Angle iron lends itself to a wide variety of projects, as long as you know its traits and take fullest advantage of them. To get the most out of this flexible structural material, you should keep these 10 things in mind to aid you in obtaining a quality supply, managing logistics on your end, and using angle iron—or alternatives—to optimal effect.
Good projects come from good materials. Good materials come from good suppliers. So keep these four factors in mind as you investigate your potential suppliers, so you can make the best possible decision for your goals.
1) Quality materials. If you don’t start from the beginning with a solid supply of high-quality materials, you’re going to regret it down the line—at best, you’re going to waste time closely inspecting each piece of iron for quality, at worst you’ll only realize you had low quality materials when a completed project begins seeing long-term problems. Regardless, you want to check your suppliers’ sources to make sure they’re top-notch, in full compliance with all necessary standards and expectations for your needs.
2) Flexibility. A good supplier of angle iron shouldn’t struggle to meet your demands when you need to make a slim adjustment. They may have to charge you more for the trouble, but they shouldn’t completely dead end on a last-minute request for materials, and unusual shipping requirement, or other problems. Part of being a top notch supplier is having a firm grasp on logistics—a supplier which isn’t flexible isn’t a good supplier.
3) Broad inventory. When you need other materials for a project, or decide to move over to an alternative, you don’t want to have to familiarize yourself with another company representative, go through another round of questions and answers, another headache of familiarizing yourself with policies and habits. And you certainly don’t want to have to track your relationship with another supplier. So work with companies which offer a broad inventory, suitable for the majority or entirety of your metal supply needs.
4) Knowledgeable staff. A respectable supplier of angle iron or any other structural material should be able to answer your questions about that material, alternatives, limitations, and various tricks, tips, and workarounds without much trouble. You can measure the overall quality of a supplier quite easily by investigating the depth of knowledge on display by representatives and employees of that supplier. If they don’t know anything about what they’re selling, they can’t guarantee quality, they can’t be sure they’re handling your materials correctly, and they can’t help you make the best choice of purchase.
Handling and storage
It’s easy to forget the place and time between the supplier’s yard and the completed project, making this an area rife with waste and mistakes in managing angle iron. Be certain you’re properly equipped and ready to keep your materials safe, secure, and easily accessed.
1) Safe for the metal. If you’re working with non-galvanized angle iron, you’re going to want to be especially careful with your storage, as moisture can and will result in unsightly, potentially compromising rust damage. Regardless, one third of your consideration in handling and storing your angle iron should be with regards to keeping your materials safe and sound—iron it tough, but it’s not impossible to damage, warp, and otherwise compromise.
6) Safe for your staff. However you store your materials, they need to be safe for workers. You don’t want to be responsible for a stack of angle iron coming down on an employee’s foot—or worse. Make sure you implement secure, easily accessible storage. If it encourages shortcuts and corner cutting, it’s not a safe way to store your iron, practically speaking. Which leads us into the third consideration quite nicely…
7) Efficiency. The less time you and your employees waste hauling materials into and out of your safe, secure storage, the less money you’re wasting on the whole endeavor. Make sure you consider the practical aspects of how you’ll be using your angle iron as you develop a storage and handling solution. If easing the process means investing in a few tools to do it all right, so be it—you’ll come out ahead in the long term.
Usage and alternatives
1) Traits. Angle iron offers a nice mix of traits for many projects, providing good mechanical strength, good weldability, and solid deformation properties. These traits have led to the materials use in building structures, machinery, storage containers, trailers, industrial furnaces, and dozens if not hundreds of other projects. You can use it as a primary portion of your structure, or simply to connect components.
2) Vs. C-channel. While a bit more expensive, c-channel is significantly more rugged in most applications than equivalent quality angle iron. In projects where either is viable without introducing issues of expense or simple engineering headaches, many will prefer c-channel. Thorough engineering analysis for commercial projects, or careful consideration of your specific needs for non-commercial products, will determine which you should use.
3) Vs. Square tubing. A relatively expensive alternative at similar densities and quality, it’s often beneficial to use square tubing over angle iron when you can’t properly predict forces to be exerted on your structure—angle iron is far more likely to deform under forces you’ve failed to account for in your building than square tubing. That said, don’t over-engineer and waste funds unnecessarily–make the right decision for your budget and needs.
So there you have it; 10 things you should keep in mind about angle iron, from supply to finished structure. Follow these tips and you’re certain to get more out of your iron, minimizing the waste of materials, time, and other resources over the course of your project.