Comparing Three Types of Steel: Cold Rolled, Cold Drawn, and Hot Roll

  • By: Charles Brown
  • Date: May 25, 2023
  • Time to read: 4 min.

In the manufacturing arena, steel is the undisputed heavyweight champion. Its versatility and robustness have made it a staple in almost every industry. But not all steels are created equal. In the race of performance, three contestants stand out: cold rolled steel, cold drawn steel, and hot rolled steel. So, let’s deep dive into the world of these manufacturing titans.

Cold Rolled Steel: The Precision Maestro

In the icy conditions of cold rolling, steel undergoes mechanical processing at temperatures lower than its hot-rolled counterparts. It’s like a cold shower for the steel, reducing the grain size, which significantly enhances its strength and toughness.

The real magic happens when the steel, like a snowflake, undergoes less distortion. It allows manufacturers to hit the bull’s eye with greater precision while shaping parts. Moreover, cold-rolled steel’s refined surface quality reduces cracks, creating a smooth canvas for further processing.

In the battle against corrosion, cold-rolled steel holds the fort, especially in salty environments or where chloride gases hold sway. Its reduced porosity levels, thanks to the lower temperature rolling techniques, keep corrosion at bay.

Cold Drawn Steel: The Shape-Shifter

Imagine pulling a piece of steel through a die to get the desired shape. That’s cold drawn steel for you! It’s akin to an artist sculpting a masterpiece, transforming the steel into a myriad of shapes while retaining its structure.

Skipping the process of “work hardening,” which involves heating and rapid cooling of the metal, renders the cold-drawn steel malleable. It’s like a gymnast, flexible yet robust, making it a darling in the manufacturing realm.

The icing on the cake? Cold drawn steel stands tall in preventing cracks during shaping, courtesy of fewer impurities.

Hot Rolled Steel: The Heat Warrior

Hot rolled steel takes the hot route, with temperatures soaring to around 900°C during processing. It’s like a mini sauna for the steel, giving it an even thickness and a uniform appearance. It emerges from the process thicker than its cold processed counterparts, given the stretching during processing.

Unlike its cold counterparts, hot-rolled steel lacks surface cracks, offering a smooth surface for further operations. But remember, it comes with a hot temper, making it less dimensionally accurate due to the high processing temperature.

Cold Rolled vs. Cold Drawn vs. Hot Rolled: The Steel Showdown

Type of SteelProcessKey AdvantagesPotential Downsides
Cold RolledSteel is mechanically processed at low temperaturesHigh precision, enhanced strength and toughness, superior surface quality, increased corrosion resistanceMore expensive due to additional processing
Cold DrawnSteel is pulled through dies to create various shapesExcellent flexibility, retains structure, fewer impurities leading to less cracksMay require more finishing work due to the shaping process
Hot RolledSteel is processed at high temperatures around 900°CUniform thickness, smooth surface for further processing, generally cheaperLess dimensionally accurate, may exhibit more stress and less strength

When deciding the right type of steel for your project, take a close look at your requirements. If precision and corrosion resistance are your goals, cold-rolled steel should be your go-to. But if you’re seeking flexibility in shaping and fewer cracks, cold-drawn steel takes the crown. And for projects that require a smooth surface and uniform thickness, hot rolled steel could be your best bet.

Remember, choosing the right type of steel is like choosing the right tool for the job. It all comes down to what you need your steel to do. So, pick your champion wisely!


Is cold drawn and cold rolled the same?

Although both cold drawn and cold rolled steel are processed at room temperatures, they are not the same. Cold rolling refers to the process of passing the steel through rollers to reduce its thickness and make it uniform. On the other hand, cold drawing involves pulling the steel through a die to give it a specific shape.

Which is better, hot rolled or cold rolled steel?

Whether hot rolled or cold rolled steel is better depends on the specific requirements of your project. If precision, superior surface quality, and enhanced strength are paramount, then cold rolled steel is a superior choice. However, if uniform thickness and a smoother surface for further processing are the key requirements, hot rolled steel might be better suited.

How thick can you get cold-rolled steel?

Cold-rolled steel can range in thickness from 0.003″ to 0.133″, depending on the steel grade and the specifics of the cold rolling process used.

Is cold drawn the same as complex drawn?

No, cold drawn and complex drawn are not the same. While cold drawn refers to the process of shaping steel by pulling it through a die, complex drawing refers to a more intricate process used to produce more complex shapes. The complexity can involve making parts with varying wall thickness, intricate bends, or intricate hole patterns.

What are the disadvantages of stiff drawn shafts?

The major disadvantages of stiff drawn shafts include the possibility of cracks forming during the drawing process due to the high stress. Moreover, they may have a less uniform grain structure, which could lead to potential weaknesses in certain areas.

What are the three advantages of cold-rolled steel?

  1. Superior Surface Quality: Cold-rolled steel has a superior surface finish as it forms fewer surface cracks during the rolling process.
  2. Greater Strength and Toughness: The process of cold rolling reduces the grain size, thereby enhancing the strength and toughness of the steel.
  3. Increased Corrosion Resistance: Thanks to the reduced porosity levels, cold-rolled steel tends to have a higher resistance to corrosion.

What is the advantage of cold-rolled steel?

One of the biggest advantages of cold-rolled steel is its high precision. The process of cold rolling allows for greater dimensional accuracy and tolerances, which is particularly beneficial for manufacturing parts that require high precision.

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