Steel and aluminum are materials found in virtually every industry for a variety of industrial and consumer products. While they look similar, there are considerable differences between the two. In this blog, we’ll discuss both materials and their differences to help you determine the best one for your application.
Strength and Malleability
Aluminum is more elastic and ductile, allowing it to be bent, extruded, or stretched without cracking or breaking. It increases strength in colder environments, although it is susceptible to dents and scratches. In contrast, steel is tough and resilient but has the added risks of rust and corrosion, as well as cracking or ripping during spinning due to reduced malleability and ductility. However, it is a much harder and more durable material than aluminum, making it resistant to bending or warping from heat, weight, or force, or heat.
Aluminum vs. steel weight is a significant determinant in which material is preferable for applications where every extra pound can decrease speed, aerodynamics, and fuel efficiency. In those applications, aluminum is clearly superior as it is lightweight, easy to handle, and less expensive to ship. When durability is the primary concern, the weight of steel makes it the optimal choice due to the high concentration of carbon that results in 5x the weight and density of aluminum. However, shape and structural rigidity are other significant factors in the strength of a material, making aluminum a viable option at half the weight of steel.
Aluminum reigns supreme for corrosion resistance without additional treatments for protection after being extruded due to a naturally occurring oxide film that is an inhibitor to rust. Various optional finishes can enhance aluminum’s aesthetic appeal, such as brushing, painting, powder coating, anodizing, painting, media blasting, polishing, or chemical washing. In contrast, steel must be treated or painted to get the same level of protection from rust and corrosion. If steel is required for applications exposed to moisture, humidity, or abrasion, it must be treated appropriately to keep it from degrading.
When comparing stainless steel vs. aluminum cost, steel is frequently less expensive per pound than aluminum. However, the price of metals fluctuates constantly depending on fuel costs, price and availability of bauxite ore and iron, and global supply and demand. The price of steel can also depend upon the type. Carbon steel and mild steel are generally less expensive, while the cost of stainless steel can exceed that of aluminum.
Quality Services From Metal Craft Spinning & Stamping
There is no one winner when comparing aluminum vs. steel. They each have beneficial qualities that make them highly desirable and widely used across numerous industries and applications. Metal Craft Spinning & Stamping has over half a century of experience supplying hundreds of customers across North America with accurate, dependable services for both aluminum and steel, including stamping, metal spinning, hydroforming, and waterjet cutting services. We use cutting-edge technology and equipment along with a company-wide dedication to quality.