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Soft plating is plating that is not suitably stiffened to take a load. Soft plate is often a factor when designing machinery seats onboard a vessel. In the even that a load will be placed in an area of soft plate additional stiffening and or headers may need to be fitted.
A soft panel is a an area of soft plate which is reserved for moving large pieces of equipment or machinery. Soft panels may themselves be stiffened, but can be easily separated from the hull or deck with welding equipment or gas cutters.