Sheet metal fabrication is a very detailed process that involves cutting, shaping, and assembling metal to create products.
The results are quality custom products that are vital operating parts in a wide variety of industries including automotive, electronics, medical equipment, and aviation. Stainless steel and aluminum are the metals used in sheet metal fabrication. While they look similar, they are different in many ways and used for a wide range of projects.
The cost varies greatly. The price of metal is continually changing, due to the various supply and demand worldwide, fuel costs, and the availability of iron and bauxite ore. Generally speaking, steel is priced less than aluminum.
Electrical conductivity is different. Aluminum is a good conductor of electricity while stainless steel is not good for it at all. Because of this, as well as its light weight properties and ability to resist corrosion, it’s common to see aluminum sheet metal used in high-voltage overhead power lines, car radiators, and air conditioning units.
The ability to resist corrosion differs. Stainless steel is made up of iron, nickel, manganese, copper, and chromium. The chromium is an added agent that helps resist corrosion. Steel is also non-porous, so that makes it more likely to corrode.
Steel needs to be painted or powder coated to prevent rust and corrosion. On the other hand, aluminum has high oxidation and is highly resistant to corrosion because of its passivation layer. Steel is often seen in architecture beams and frames while aluminum is often seen for aircraft, since it’s known for its light weight and flexibility.
Strength and malleability are different. Aluminum is commonly used across different industries because it is so pliable. It is much more malleable than steel, making it easier to bend and shape. It is harder to shape, thus is harder to work with in general. However, it is much stronger and harder than aluminum.
Weight varies. Steel is stronger and less likely to warp or bend under force, weight, or heat. It is known to be about 2.5 times denser than aluminum.
Still not sure which one is right for your needs? You can dive deeper in more research, or call CE Metal Fabrication at 360-713-1078 and we will be happy to help.