Aluminum and stainless steel fabrication processes are used to produce parts and structures for a wide range of industrial purposes. Aluminum is especially useful in the marine equipment field thanks to its light weight and resistance to corrosion. While not technically a non-ferrous metal, stainless steel is also prized thanks to its lack of magnetism and its versatile applications in the industrial environment. Here are six factors to consider when determining whether aluminum or stainless steel materials are best suited to your needs.
Tensile Strength and Weight
Stainless steel is considerably stronger than aluminum and is available in sheet, plate and pipe forms. Thanks to its strength and durability, stainless steel parts are preferred for many applications in the energy sector of the economy. Aluminum is not as strong as stainless steel but weighs much less, making it more practical for use in aircraft and marine vessels.
Aluminum can sometimes react with food products to cause discoloration or flavor changes. Stainless steel remains inert and inactive when in contact with most foods and can ensure the best-tasting and most appealing creations for culinary experts and food service companies in the competitive marketplace.
Aluminum is used as a heat sink for computing devices and in cooling systems for vehicles thanks to its superior thermal conductivity. Stainless steel is considerably less prone to transmitting heat. It does, however, have a higher melting point than aluminum and can be used across a wider range of temperature ranges.
Aluminum is fairly hard to weld but can often be molded or cut into the desired shapes. By contrast, stainless steel fabrication strategies typically include some or all of the following:
* Work hardening to create durable, rigid structures that stand up to long-term use
* Machining to create crisp edges and to ensure the lowest degree of chipping or cracking
* Welding to create lasting joins
The lower melting point of aluminum makes it much more versatile and malleable during the fabrication process.
Stainless steel parts are not especially good conductors of electricity. Aluminum, however, is often used to carry current in overhead power lines and can serve in much the same capacity in a variety of industrial applications.
Pound for pound, aluminum costs much less than stainless steel. If budget limitations are an issue, this reduced expense can be a significant factor in deciding between the two materials.
Working with an experienced fabrication firm like C R Industries Inc. can help your company manage its aluminum and stainless steel fabrication needs more effectively. By taking these factors into consideration before deciding between stainless steel and aluminum, you can ensure the most positive results for your ongoing metal cutting, forming and fabrication needs.