5 Deciding Factors When Choosing Between Stainless Steel And Aluminum For Your Fabrication Project

Aluminum and stainless steel can be fabricated into valuable products and items for various industries. Thanks to its corrosion-resistant and lightweight properties, aluminum is widely used in the marine equipment sector. On the other part, steel's versatility makes it excellent in many industrial applications because of its non-magnetic qualities.

So, which material should you choose for your fabrication project? Well, read on for five crucial factors to consider and make an informed decision.

Heat Conductivity

Aluminum serves as an excellent heat sink, especially in automotive and computing systems, due to its exceptional thermal conductance. Stainless steel is not as good as aluminum on heat conductivity qualities. However, it possesses a higher melting point, which makes it an ideal material for broad temperature ranges.

Corrosion Resistance

Stainless steel is usually made from a blend of various elements, including chromium, iron, and copper. The addition of chromium in stainless steel gives it outstanding anti-corrosion traits. Steel, on its own, is a non-porous, ferrous material, which means it's susceptible to corrosion. For that reason, powder coating or painting this material helps enhance its corrosion resistance.

On the contrary, aluminum has significant oxidation properties, which gives it a corrosion-resistant passivation layer. The application of stainless steel is common in architectural beams and structures, while aluminum is suitable in the aviation industry, due to its lightweight and anti-corrosion properties.

Weight and Tensile Strength

Stainless steel comes in pipes, sheets, or plates and is considered stronger than aluminum. It's sturdy and doesn't warp quickly due to its durability. For that reason, stainless steel is a better option for numerous applications in the energy industry. While aluminum isn't as strong as stainless steel, it is incredibly lightweight, making it perfect for aviation and marine applications.

Material Reactivity

When working in the food industry, you will quickly realize that aluminum impacts food flavor and color, due to its high reactivity levels. However, stainless steel is inherently non-reactive upon contact with food. That's why it's the most suitable material for the fabrication of culinary equipment in the food industry.

Electrical Conductivity

While aluminum is an excellent electrical conductor, stainless steel is just the opposite. Because of aluminum's higher electrical conductance, lightweight, and corrosion resistance, it's common to find its use in vehicle radiators, AC systems, and overhead power lines.

Final Thoughts

If you are running a metal fabrication project and stuck choosing between stainless steel and aluminum, keep in mind these five essential factors to guide your decision. Both have their unique qualities regarding thermal and electrical conductivity, corrosion resistance, weight and tensile strength, and reactivity.