Metal channels are closed or opened tubes formed from metal strips, usually used for some sort of structural application. Metal channels are usually rectangular-esque, but open metal channels may take on a variety of shapes, such as those that resemble the letter U, the J or the letter C. These channels are named U-channels, J-channels and C-channels, respectively. Depending on their shape and size, metal channels may be used for a wide variety of applications, including many applications in the electrical, carpentry and building construction industries. They are often used, for example, to direct electrical wiring and/or house and protect wiring from exposure, as tracking for carts, as rail guidance systems, as door trim, to support highway signs and to support modular shelving systems.
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Metal channels may be made from a variety of metal materials, the most common being steel, aluminum, zinc, brass or a combination thereof. Different materials work better or worse in the creation of different channel products. Brass and aluminum, for instance, are both popular choices for the fabrication of perforated shelving support channels. Regardless of the material chosen, the easiest and least wasteful way to fabricate a metal channel is through a cold rolling process known as roll forming. In rolling forming, instead of applying heat, a roll former applies force to shape the metal. More specifically, it engages a long series of rollers, which are designed to fit snugly around the material’s contours. Each set of rollers is slightly different than the one before it, so that as the metal passes through, it gradually changes shape. Once it passes through the final roller, which imparts the metal with its intended shape, it may be considered a channel. Often, after being roll formed, the metal channel undergoes further processing. It is, for example, frequently cut down to one or more predetermined lengths.
Additionally, manufacturers may apply finishing coats for aesthetic and/or functional reasons. Take, for example, J-channels. J-channels are commonly installed around the edges of different building components, and for this reason they are often coated to look like wood with a brown, grainy finish. In addition, since they are frequently installed on the outside of a building, they are also typically available for purchase with a layer or layers of all-weather coating.
Manufacturers can fabricate channels to meet a variety of different standards, depending on the market or markets to which they are selling their product. Usually, metal channels are standard made and may be purchased directly from a manufacturer or at a hardware store, though it is also possible to custom order metal channels if need be. Also, some channels are available in a variety of standard styles. C-channels, for example, are offered in different styles that match the different regional norms. Styles such as these include American Standard, Aluminum Association and Canadian styles. American Standard C-channels have rounded corners and sides that thin out gradually as they ascend, while Canadian style C-channels and Aluminum Association style C-channels both have rounded corners on the inside and thick walls. Also, upon occasion, two C-channels can be welded together to create an I-channel.
Some metal channels are better suited to some jobs than others. U-channels, for example, which are typically quite deep with a rounded bottom, lend themselves well as the trim around shower door glass, as repair pieces for window frames, as conduits, as railings and as components in boat accessories. They are especially useful because walls associated with these applications can be different lengths. J-channels, on the other hand, are much better suited to aesthetic applications. Mostly, they are installed as the finishing touch around gable edges, around window trim and around door trim. C-channels stand apart from the others because, in addition to being applied as trim or molding, they are often called upon to serve both joining and structural purposes. To find out more about differentiations such as these and to determine the best metal channel for your application, reach out to a trusted metal channel manufacturer. To find such a manufacturer, look no further than this page, which lists a number of talented and proven metal channel suppliers. With any one of them, you’re not in good hands, you’re in great hands.