When the C channel is placed on its side, it forms a C shape, which is where the name comes from.
A C channel is usually used somewhere where it can be fixed to a flat surface for maximum contact area and strength. Sometimes C channels will be welded together back to back to form an I-beam. This unique setup can create strong but flexible structural support.
C channels are manufactured using aluminum or other metals. Although the basic shape is the same for every C channel, there are a variety of types that can be created. An “Architectural Channel” has a very basic form with perfectly squared corners. Structural C channels come in several types, including what are known as Aluminum Association, American Standard, and Canadian.
Aluminum Association C channels are thicker with rounded corners on the inside of the channel, and they are very similar to Canadian style channels. An American Standard C Channel, on the other hand, has rounded corners and the sides gradually become thinner moving up to the top. Each type has its own advantages and drawbacks, so they are all used for different purposes. Some are utilized in molding and trim around doors and windows, while others are used for structural and joining purposes.
Many manufacturers will create customized C channels based on the specifications for your project. Sometimes a company can provide in-house engineers who will work with you to create a solution that fits with whatever you are building. Manufacturers typically make C channels in a range of standardized sizes, but they will build you a customized piece if necessary.
The manufacturing process is quite fast, as long a wide piece of metal is usually cut by a machine before entering a symmetrical press where the walls are flanged into shape. If the C channel has a unique shape with varying thickness, a mold is used and the materials are heated to press them into the exact shape needed.