Although at first glance steel and aluminium look fairly similar, they are actually pretty different. Much of this difference relates to the innate properties of each metal as well as how each is fabricated. In fact, each material has a distinct and defined set of characteristics that determine whether it’s the right (or wrong) material for an application. In this blog, we take a closer look at aluminium and steel so you always choose the right option for your metal fabrication Perth needs.
Differences Between Aluminium and Steel
There are many differences between aluminium and steel. For example:
- Compared to steel, aluminium is pretty soft so is easier to form and cut. Steel is very resistant to abrasion and wear but it’s notoriously hard to work with and more difficult to form than aluminium.
- Aluminium tends to be less expensive than steel. Price is always an essential factor to consider when planning any aluminium fabrication Perth project. Of course, prices tend to fluctuate based on various factors such as global supply and demand, fuel costs and more so it’s crucial to check pricing among other aspects when choosing your metal.
- Thermal Conductivity. Aluminium is a far better thermal (heat) conductor than stainless steel so is often used in air conditioning units and for car radiators.
- Strength to Weight Ratio. Steel is stronger than aluminium however aluminium is a third of the weight of steel.
- Steel is made up of copper, iron, manganese, chromium and nickel. The reason the chromium is added is to provide corrosion resistance. Additionally, because steel isn’t porous, its corrosion resistance is heightened. Aluminium has a high corrosion and oxidation resistance mostly due to its passivation layer. If the metal is allowed to oxidise, the surface will change colour to white and could even pit. In certain environments, aluminium can corrode very quickly potentially causing catastrophic results.
- Steel is easier to weld than aluminium.
- Provided weight isn’t a consideration, steel is stronger than aluminium.
- Thermal Properties. Steel can be used at far higher temperatures than aluminium. In fact, aluminium can get extremely soft in temperatures of 400 degrees or more.
- Electrical Conductivity. Compared to most other metals steel is a poor conductor of electricity whereas aluminium is an excellent one. It’s because of its high conductivity, corrosion resistance and its light weight that high-voltage overhead power lines are often made from aluminium.
These are the main differences between steel and aluminium. Of course, when it comes down to the specific metal to use for your fabrication project, you will have the final choice. Also, if you’re looking for a little guidance, the team at InLine Engineering is very experienced and knowledgeable in our field. For reliable stainless steel fabrication Perth industries rely on our team to consistently deliver results. Our clients have grown to trust our expert opinion which is always backed up with robust supporting information. Contact us today for more details about our services.