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Aluminum Vs Steel: Which Is Best Suited For Custom Metal Fabrication?

April 18, 2022

Both steel and aluminum are the widely used materials that form the backbone of the custom metal fabrication industry and the metal fabrication industry in general. While both of them offer unique sets of benefits and drawbacks, the major differences in their properties can make or break a custom metal fabrication project. Hence, it’s vital for fabricators to know about these properties before selecting a material. Here are 4 such fundamental differences between steel and aluminum. 


Difference between using steel and aluminum for custom metal fabrication


Heat Conduction Properties: Stainless steel is not as efficient as aluminum when it comes to transmitting heat. Due to its superior thermal conductivity, the latter is often utilized as a heat sink in computers and car cooling systems. However, steel offers a higher melting point than aluminum, making it more suitable for applications where wider temperature ranges are the prerequisite. 


Electrical Conductivity: Once again, stainless steel does not offer good electrical conductivity compared to aluminum. Thus, aluminum is commonly used in custom sheet metal fabrication projects that produce materials for high-voltage overhead power lines, HVAC units, and vehicle radiators. 


Resistance to Corrosion: With its high oxidation properties, aluminum is also ideal for applications involving a passivation layer, which is a protective outer coating that is created by a chemical reaction. Thus, aluminum’s high rate of oxidation actually makes it more resistant to corrosion in the long term. Conversely, steel is non-porous, making it more prone to corrosion. However, the addition of chromium in the right quantity can help mitigate this problem. 


Strength and Durability: This is where steel vastly outperforms aluminum. The main reason behind steel’s incredible strength is the presence of carbon in it, which also makes it a lot harder than aluminum. Thus, the higher the amount of carbon present in the steel, the stronger and harder it becomes. Due to this unique property, steel is fabricated into massive support structures that are used in architectural projects.


With these key differences in mind, fabricators can aptly choose a metal for their next custom metal fabrication project.


You can always count on us at Demtra Sheet Metal Industries Ltd. to provide you with the best custom sheet metal fabrication services and other essential processes for your particular project. Contact us today to learn more about everything we can do for you.