Working with Stainless Steel Plate Suppliers: What to Look For

Stainless Steel Plate Suppliers

Stainless steel plate is used for a variety of applications in which durability, strength, low maintenance, and corrosion resistance are important. It’s used in the construction industry to support building foundations, as well as for the auto manufacturing, pharmaceutical, chemical, petrochemical, transport and aviation industries. Stainless steel plate is also used to provide structural support for railways, ships, military vehicles, and trucks, making it a vital component in heavy industry. Because of its importance, those tasked with sourcing stainless steel plate suppliers should carefully consider a number of factors before making that choice.

Factors to Consider for Stainless Steel Plate Suppliers

There are numerous industries and applications for stainless steel plates, with suppliers of the material tending to concentrate on either a domestic or global market. Steel service centers source domestically, providing steel goods that have been already formed and which can be used for steel goods like steel roofing or appliance housings; these will most likely supply standard forms such as stainless steel plate. Suppliers that operate globally tend to be publicly traded steel manufacturers with their main output in the form of ingots, along with semi-finished produces like slabs, billets, and blooms, though some will also fabricate standardized stainless steel plate.

Types of stainless steel plate suppliers fall into these general categories: 

  • Manufacturers: Those purchasing stainless steel plate normally buy through company salespeople or independent representatives that source from multiple manufacturers. In most cases, prices from these suppliers tend to be the lowest, unless the buyer is located in a remote locale to which transport costs are higher. However, some stainless steel plate manufacturers won’t fill smaller orders.
  • Distributors: These are alternatively known as brokers, jobbers, or wholesalers, who buy directly from several manufacturers, purchasing and warehousing large quantities of stainless steel. Suppliers that distribute for manufacturers tend to charge higher prices, though they’re capable of delivering smaller orders too. Sometimes distributors will be able to provide stainless steel plate at a lower overall cost, as their shipping charges are normally much less while their delivery time will be quicker.
  • Independent suppliers: These are smaller shops and other entities that concentrate on making specialty products for specific purposes, normally selling through sales representatives. Prices through these craftspeople are higher, though the stainless steel plate and other products they produce tend to be of higher quality.
  • Importers: These stainless steel plate suppliers operate much like a domestic distributor, though they market and sell globally. Depending on the source, they may even sell directly to those who travel to the importer’s warehouse overseas.

Due to its chromium content, stainless steel plate surfaces don’t rust easily, so stainless steel is often referred to as “corrosion-resistant steel.” It’s vital for making numerous products, including for making chemical or fuel tankers and in petrochemical plants. Stainless steel plate is also used in the chemical manufacturing, construction, food processing, and pharmaceutical industries.

What Makes a Good Supplier?

Buyers often focus on a single issue when sourcing stainless steel: the supplier’s pricing. Though it’s an important consideration, other aspects of a buyer-supplier relationship are also as, if not more, important. Stainless steel plate suppliers need to make money to stay in the business, so will often try to sell themselves as more than just providing the cheapest price.

Reliability plays a huge role when sourcing stainless steel. Suppliers should provide products on time and in good condition. Even though stainless steel is resistant to corrosion, it can still rust if not stored or handled properly. Larger suppliers aren’t automatically more reliable either. A customer of a small supplier who places large orders will likely receive more reliable service than a small customer of a larger stainless steel plate supplier. It may even make sense to use two smaller suppliers to have a backup supply than to use a single large supplier.

Another key and related factor is stability. A supplier with a solid reputation among its customers, a stable workforce, and a long history of working with stainless steel will inevitably offer a more stable source and stable businesses tend also to be more reliable. There may be certain signs too that a supplier isn’t in a stable financial position. For example, if shipments arrive earlier than requested it can mean that the supplier has a shortage of orders and is trying to speed up its cash flow.

Another factor involves location, as shipping charges are usually higher when ordering from a greater distance. Internationally-sourced stainless steel may actually end up being priced higher due to import taxes. Products ordered from a distant supplier will also take longer to arrive, especially those not near a major logistical hub. The time it takes for materials to reach the customer will inevitably also affect the output of end products. Additionally, when ordering it’s best for businesses to look into whether there’s a discount, or even free shipping, for ordering in quantity.

Other advantageous traits relate to a supplier’s capabilities. This includes offering attractive business terms, advanced technical know-how, well-trained employees, and a desire to serve their customers competently.

Project Considerations

Another consideration should be the project for which a customer is using stainless steel plate. Suppliers should be selected with care to ensure they can provide the best price and product for the project.

  • Budget: Accurate quotes are sometimes hard to come by. It’s important that both the customer and the stainless steel plate provider know the budget. This makes reaching a fair deal easier. Having solid budgetary limits also allows customers to eliminate some suppliers based on cost.
  • Scale: Often the best vendor depends on the size of a project. Some stainless steel plate suppliers can meet largescale demand better than others, able to supply large orders of stainless steel plate without much notice.
  • Timeline: It’s important that when ordering stainless steel plate, suppliers know how much and when a customer needs it. This can be done by having teams set up realistic completion dates and providing these to the supplier. This will help ensure projects are completed on schedule.

Contact the Stainless Steel Plate Suppliers at Atlantic Stainless

Atlantic Stainless supplies a selection of stainless steel plate, available in most grades and typically galvanized. We additionally offer finishing from polished standard #4 to mirrored polished #8, normally also coated with removable vinyl. Atlantic’s stainless steel plate is sold in hot rolled annealed and pickled (HRAP) condition.

The grades and services for stainless steel plate that Atlantic Stainless offers include:

  • 15-5, 17-4, 17-7, 304, 304L, 316, 316L, 301, 309, 301QH, 301HH, 301FH, 321, 330, 347, 409, 410, 430, 625 and 718
  • 8 to 26 gauge plate sheets of varying widths
  • Cuts stainless steel plate to size
  • Cutting services that include shear cutting up to 3/8 inch thick, along with high definition plasma cutting and waterjet cutting up to a half-foot of thickness
  • Finishes from 2B to polished plate
  • Polishing services

Additionally, our sales team has combined experience of over 150 years. Our expert sales professionals are available to answer any questions on stainless steel plate or other products that we supply. Whether you’re a customer around the corner or on the other side of the world, Atlantic can supply your metal needs, including close tolerances, high-temperature allows, military specifications, and other special fabrications. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.