A Guide to Buying Industrial Metalworking Supplies

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A Guide to Buying Industrial Metalworking Supplies

The need for, and use of, industrial metalworking supplies is not limited to metalworking industries alone, with a number of individuals requiring the same, either to undertake do-it-yourself projects, or to create some kind of artwork. In its industrial avatar, metalworking lends support to various industries, from jewellery making to automobile manufacturing to infrastructure development. Since the metalworking industry continues to grow, the demand for metalworking supplies is also on the rise, and the good thing is there is no slowdown in supply.

When it comes to buying industrial metalworking supplies, while buyers do have the age old option of turning to brick-and-mortar suppliers, they also have the option to turn online, where websites like eBay present buyers with multiple options. However, before buying any metalworking supplies, it is suggested that buyers find out about the different alternatives on offer simply because buyers have various options to choose from when it comes to buying metalworking supplies like sheet metal, bars, rods, tubing, metalworking fluids, and abrasives.

Sheet Metal

Sheet metal is easily among the most commonly sought after industrial metalworking supply because it serves as a base for a variety of finished products. Sheet metal is nothing but metal shaped into thin, flat sheets, and these sheets serve as raw material that can be bent and cut into various shapes.

Sheet Metal Thickness

Sheet metal comes in varying thicknesses, and sheet metal thickness is typically expressed in gauges. There are in excess of 30 gauges from which buyers can choose when it comes to buying sheet metal, and for a majority of the materials used in making sheet metal, the thickness increases as the gauge value decreases. In addition, buyers should know that gauge measurements are known to vary for different metals, and while the thickness of ferrous metals is illustrated in gauges, the same is not necessarily the case with non-ferrous metals. The table below shows how gauges for different materials vary when used for making sheet metal.


Steel (mm)

Stainless Steel (mm)

Aluminium (mm)

















The use of steel for making sheet metal plates is quite common, which includes galvanised steel and stainless steel. Sheet metal is also made using materials like copper, zinc, titanium, bronze, silver, aluminium, tin, nickel, and even gold.

Bars, Tubing, and Rods

A variety of bars, tubing, and rods are also required in the metalworking industry, and as with sheet metal, these can be made using different materials. When it comes to bars, commonly used materials include steel, bronze, silver, titanium, and iron; rods can be made using materials like steel, bronze, copper, and silver; and common materials used for making tubing include copper, steel, iron, silver, and zinc. Since the diameters and lengths of these bars, tubing, and rods can vary significantly, knowing just what is required and what to look for is highly recommended.

Metalworking Fluids

Metalworking fluids, or MWFs, also commonly referred to as coolants, are typically used to facilitate the metalworking process, in which these fluids help minimise heat generation, minimise wear and tear of machines and tools, and they can also help provide better finishes. These fluids also aid is washing away chipped particles, and they inhibit oxidation and corrosion.

Types of Metalworking Fluids

Buyers have various options to choose from when buying MWFs, and these comprise of simple oils like petroleum compositions as well as water-based solutions that comprise of synthetic and semi-synthetic alternatives and water soluble oils. In all, MWFs can be classified under four types, and these include synthetic fluids, semi-synthetic fluids, water soluble oils, and non-dilutable straight oils. MWFs can also come in the form of complex mixtures, comprising of additives like biocides, buffers, anti-weld agents, emulsifiers, and corrosion inhibitors. Some MWFs come with extreme-pressure additives, and these include phosphorised, sulphurised, or chlorinated substances. In addition, buyers also have the option to look for variants that come with polymer-based high performance extreme-pressure additives.

Selecting the Right Kind of Metalworking Fluid

The use of MWFs becomes complex owing to the contamination factor with other materials used in the fabrication process, and these can include metal particulate, fluids, and oils. Also, water-based MWFs can support the growth of microbes, which can lead to biological contaminants entering the fray. As a result, selecting the right kind of MWF becomes very important. The requirement for MWFs should ideally be dictated by the material that is to be worked upon, the process that is to be employed, the tools and machinery being used, as well as the desired quality. Factors, such as chemical restrictions, water quality, and the filtration type, can also have a bearing on the kind of MWF to use. While MWFs help in extending tool life and delivering higher production rates, the fact remains that certain materials don't really require MWFs, and certain alloys may require no more than a little tapping fluid.

Coated Abrasives

Abrasives used in the metalworking realm come in various forms, which include abrasive belts, abrasive brushes, abrasive rolls, abrasive discs, abrasive sheets, as well as hand abrasives like deburring rolls and hand pads. Abrasive belts can be found to fit different machines; abrasive brushes come in varying stem lengths, with different discs and bristle brushes; abrasive rolls can be found in cartridge type and cloth type; abrasive discs come in an assortment of sizes; and almost all abrasive types offer varied degrees of finishing. Their use varies as per requirement, and while some may be used in the basic evening out of surfaces, some others can be used to eliminate microscopic scratches, nicks, and bruises.

The coated adhesive types mentioned above are made up of multiple components, which include backing materials, adhesive bonds, grinding aids, and most importantly, abrasive grains.

Abrasive Grains

Abrasive grains come with different cutting capabilities, and this depends on factors like grain orientation, toughness, hardness, and shape. Grain toughness refers to how resistant a grain is to breaking or fracturing, and while alumina and zirconia are good alternatives, silicon carbide is not really a tough alternative, despite it being quite hard. The cutting efficiency of a grain is largely affected by the grain's shape; and while blocky grains produce rougher cuts, sharper grains result in cleaner cutting. Also, while blocky grains tend to produce more heat due to excessive friction, sharper grains offer cooler working temperatures.

Synthetic Grains and Natural Grains

Grains found in coated abrasives can be synthetic as well as natural. Aluminium oxide, among the most commonly used, is a synthetic grain that is very tough and durable, although it does not come with a defined crystal structure. Zirconia alumina, also a synthetic grain, is more expensive, although it comes with longer life. Silicon carbide, another synthetic variant, is known to be the hardest among all commonly available abrasives, and while it offers quick initial cutting, it also comes with a relatively short lifespan. When it comes to natural grains, some of the more commonly used alternatives include emery, garnet, flint, and crocus.

Buying Industrial Metalworking Supplies on eBay

eBay offers buyers a variety of options, not just when it comes to choosing from different metalworking supplies, but when it comes to choosing between different sellers as well because a significant number of metalworking suppliers use eBay as their online sales platform. This option of dealing with multiple sellers on a single platform not only gives buyers the ability to find out just what is available, it also gives them the ability to compare prices and look for bargains and good deals.

The variety, when it comes to the metalworking supplies made available through eBay, comprises of a variety of sheet metal, bars, tubings, rods, MWFs, abrasives, and even small metalworking supplies like rivets, screws, washers, and compression springs. eBay is also home to different kinds of used metalworking supplies, and when purchased on eBay, can help save some money.

Since metalworking supplies can be quite heavy, paying attention to the postage and packaging costs becomes important. When buying bulky supplies, looking for local sellers can help, and buyers can also come by sellers who offer free collection in person.


The demand for industrial metalworking supplies is not set to diminish anytime soon because of the wide variety of applications with which this realm is connected. In today's world, metalworking can be found in various quarters, from small, mid-sized, and large industries, to people who take upon metalworking as a hobby. While having access to the right kind of tools, like lathes and rollers, is important, so is periodical access to the right supplies, as they are the supplies that end up being used to make final products.

When it comes to buying metalworking supplies, smaller buyers should learn from buyers who place large orders, thereby enjoying lower prices because sellers are known to offer lower prices to people who buy in bulk or wholesale. The start, however, should be by establishing just what is required. For instance, when looking for sheet metal, a buyer should not only have quantity in mind, but should also narrow in on a material, as well as a desired gauge even before embarking upon a search.

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