<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-MXV94Z" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">
All Posts

How and Why Should I Design for Metal C-Beams?

9514640795_4967a82799_z.jpgWhen it comes time to reducing production costs or increasing profit margins in metal product manufacturing, the responsibility may fall to the manufacturer’s engineering team to determine how best to cut product costs without sacrificing quality and structural integrity.

Often, this cost-cutting starts with your choice of fabrication and structure profile. For example, while you may be used to producing I-beams or T-beams, C-beams (C-sections) can be an effective replacement for many projects. In ground piling applications, C-sections offer high bending in load bearing and soil friction for reliable anchoring. The C-beam maintains strength tolerances at a lower gauge than the I-beam, which results in thinner, lighter components.

If you’ve never worked with C-beam profiles before, keep reading. We’ll take you through the basics so you can determine whether it is the right choice for your design needs.

Common C-Beam Uses

C-sections are commonly used for small spans or light-duty applications, and are often formed from aluminum, steel and stainless steel. Below are some common uses to consider for C-sections.

  • Brackets
  • Cladding
  • Covers
  • Decoration
  • Framing
  • Girts
  • Grating support
  • Holders
  • Inserts
  • Joists
  • Posts
  • Purlins
  • Rails
  • Railings
  • Reinforcements
  • Rims
  • Slides
  • Standards
  • Stiffeners
  • Supports
  • Tracks
  • Trim
  • Cable tray
  • Tilt brackets

Common C-Section Applications

C-sections are used across industries such as solar, construction, agriculture and transportation. Take a look at the range of common applications for C-sections:

  • Construction building frames, bridging and truss structures
  • Conveyor rails
  • Data transmission, TV, radio and power line pylon masts
  • Gate and fence structures
  • Home appliance structures
  • Metal furniture and furniture supports
  • Solar mounting systems, ground pilings, panel support channels and PV framing
  • Module rails

What Metal Fabrication Process Works Best for Your C-Beam Project?

C-sections are commonly roll formed or extruded. How you choose to fabricate your part can make a world of difference in the overall price and fabrication time of your project. Review the following considerations to determine which process is better for your C-section part.

Related article: Want to learn more about the differences between extrusion and roll forming? Read Extrusions: The Common Engineering Fallback.


Aluminum is the most commonly extruded material, followed by materials such as ceramics, plastics and polymers. Roll forming, however, is able to handle stronger, lighter metals that extrusion cannot. The roll forming process forms parts slowly, which allows you to drop gauge your C-section without sacrificing strength.


While extrusions can produce lengthy parts efficiently, the length of the part is dependent on the amount of material in the work piece and its profile. Roll formed C-sections, however, are only limited by the coil fed into the line.

Secondary Processes

Extrusion cannot effectively produce parts with secondary processes, such as embossing, notches or slots. Before any secondary operations can happen, the extruded parts must go through a secondary aging process in an oven. During the roll forming process, on the other hand, secondary operations can be combined into one continuous progression.


In terms of cost, extrusion is ideal for low volume C-section projects when compared to roll forming. However, if you’re looking for high volume production, setup and labor costs of roll forming will bring your overall price below that of extrusion.

If you’ve never designed C-section parts, or are looking to cut your design time, download the free Standard Profile Engineering Guide for four C-section profiles, as well as Z-sections, U channels and more.

Download the Guide


Image Source: Hynes Industries

Related Posts

Top 7 Benefits of AS/RS in Warehouse Manufacturing

In today’s world, people want their goods immediately, and ordering online has become the ...

Top 5 Manufacturing Technology Trends for Design Engineers

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on December 6, 2017 and has been updated...

The Future of Manufacturing Is Here: Industrial Robots for Warehouse Operations

It was 1961. John F. Kennedy was just sworn into office, gas cost 27 cents per gallon, and...