Aluminum and stainless steel are most used metals across the globe in various applications and though they look similar, they are different to each other when it comes to properties. These properties decide which metal to use in different applications. Being a beginner to metallurgy or if you are looking for some home improvement application, you need to have a clear idea about major differences between aluminum and stainless steel.
In this post, we have described 10 major differences between aluminum and stainless steel. Go through them and decide which metal you want to use in your next project:
Strength to Weight Ratio:
Strength to weight ratio is very critical while choosing a particular metal for an application. Though aluminum is not as strong as steel, it is almost one-third of the weight and hence, it makes aluminum more preferable in making aircraft components.
Corrosion or better corrosion resistance is another important factor to consider while choosing metal for applications in highly corrosive environments. Both aluminum and stainless steel have superior corrosion resistance and it makes them best alternatives in various applications. Stainless steel has iron, chromium, nickel, manganese and copper as ingredients and among all, chromium is particularly added to enhance the corrosion resistance. On the other hand, aluminum has superior corrosion resistance due to its passivation layer.
When it comes to thermal conductivity, aluminum wins the race. It is a good conductor of heat and hence, it is used in car radiators and air conditioning units. The stainless steel’s thermal conductivity is lesser compared to aluminum.
When it comes to cost, aluminum is generally less costly than stainless steel which is also one of the core reasons why it is preferred more in applications where cost is a decisive factor.
Aluminum sheet metal fabrication is easy as it is soft compared to other metals such as stainless steel. on contrary, stainless steel has wear and abrasion resistant and it makes difficult to cut and form it easily.
When it comes to welding, stainless steel is easier to weld compared to aluminum.
Aluminum becomes very soft at high temperature, above 400 degrees. However, stainless steel is still hard at higher temperatures. In industrial processes and applications where the temperature is relatively high, stainless steel is preferred over aluminum.
Stainless steel is not a good conductor of electricity. Hence, when high electrical conductivity is needed, aluminum is preferred over stainless steel. Also, aluminum is about 1/3 lighter than stainless steel.
Stainless steel has more strength than aluminum.
Effect on Foods:
When it comes to food reactions, stainless steel is less reactive with foods compared to aluminum. Aluminum reacts to foods and it might change its color and flavor.
That’s all. These differences are the deciding factors to choose aluminum or stainless steel in different applications. If you are making a DIY project at home and you don’t have any idea about which one to choose, you can ask your metal fabricator and he might guide you about the same.
Whether you choose stainless steel or aluminum to make certain parts for your DIY project, the critical thing is to hire an expert metal fabricator. You can go for MetalsCut4U.com as they are the best metal fabricators with latest technology and resources to cater your custom metal fabrication needs.