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Which is stronger – a solid steel rod or hollow steel pipe?

Published by Lucy Thurston on


When selecting a metal type for a project, you’re often left deliberating between a solid rod or hollow pipe. Whether an 8mm stainless steel rod or polished stainless steel tubing is required can be a tough call. The most integral deciding factor is the strength-to-weight ratio, meaning a hollow pipe may be the way forward. You may be surprised to learn that square hollow section steel is stronger than a rod of equal mass. With this being said, what sets steel box tubing apart from a solid steel box section?

Essentially, the strength-to-weight ratio of a hollow pipe is superior to a solid rod because of the pipe’s inertia. The inertia of a pipe is greater than that of a rod, meaning it’s not as easily changed. After all, inertia refers to a concept in which an object maintains its existing motion until a force results in a shift of direction or speed.

While one of the biggest differences between solid steel rods and hollow steel pipes is their strength, there’s much more to consider. Discover more about each solution below.

What are their uses?

Solid Steel Rod

It comes as no surprise that solid steel rods are some of the most essential components of the manufacturing industry. In fact, any industry that relies on machines also relies on solid steel rods. This is down to the material’s versatility, making it the preferred choice for aerospace, heavy earth-moving equipment, defence, pulp and paper, shipbuilding, cement, construction, fabrication, textile, and automotive industries.

What sets solid steel rods apart from many other materials is that they can be produced in almost any grade, size, shape, and type. Consequently, the precise requirements of a project can be met with ease. For instance, channel, square, hexagonal, round, and flat are just some of the available shapes for solid steel rods. The various forms can be applied in multiple ways, as detailed below.

Square Steel Rod

Square steel rods can be widely applied within the manufacturing industry for equipment, fasteners, and other machinery.

Channel and Hexagonal Steel Rod

Channel and hexagonal steel rods are renowned for their weight-bearing abilities, meaning they’re often used in the construction industry.

Round Steel Rod

Arguably the most important of all the steel rod shapes is round. Thanks to the corrosion resistance of round steel rods, they’re often applied in manufacturing. Most commonly, pieces of machinery and fasteners are crafted from round steel rods.

Hollow Steel Pipe

As previously mentioned, hollow steel pipes have a greater strength-to-weight ratio, but what does this mean for their applications? Well, hollow steel pipes are some of the most versatile materials in the marine construction and heavy civil industries. What’s more, they’re also often used in the gas and oil industries.

Not only do hollow steel pipes boast customisability, but they’re also very durable and robust. Additionally, steel is one of the more environmentally friendly choices, as it sits among the most widely recycled materials.

Hollow Steel Pipe for Transportation

One of the most popular applications for hollow steel pipes is natural gas and oil transportation, as well as sewage and water transportation. Typically, steel pipes act as a protective layer for the cables and wires in these constructions.

Hollow Steel Pipe for Structural Applications

Due to their reliability and cost-effectiveness, steel pipes are widely used in the construction industry. They often act as alternatives to metals such as iron, as they can withstand the elements while maintaining strength and durability. On top of this, steel isn’t as likely to break when subjected to harsh conditions.

What are the variations in the price?

As far as the price is concerned for each steel shape, solid steel rods are more affordable than hollow steel pipes. This is because the manufacturing costs of a steel pipe tend to be higher than that of a steel rod. For instance, a Stainless Steel (304) 6mm Round from Rapid Metals will cost you £3.80 +VAT per metre, whereas a Stainless Steel (304) Tube 6mm x 1mm Wall will set you back £9.10 +VAT per metre.

Shop Steel at Rapid Metals

Whether you need a solid steel rod or hollow steel pipe, Rapid Metals is here to help. We can provide steel cut to your desired size, allowing you to meet your project’s exact requirements. If you’re unsure which solution would be more appropriate for your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Our team of experts is always keen to lend you a helping hand in making the right metal decisions. We look forward to hearing from you and providing you with the quality products you need to make your construction dreams a reality.

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