For those seeking custom metal components, finding the perfect material can be a bit challenging. Some of the most commonly used metals are aluminum and stainless steel, which seemingly have a million varieties.
Are you looking to have some custom components made and need more information on cost? It depends somewhat on the specific grade, but here’s a general look at the quality and cost of aluminum vs. stainless steel for custom components.
Aluminum Vs. Steel
Two of the most often used metals -- steel and aluminum -- each have their benefits.
On the one hand, aluminum is considered superior because it is a highly malleable material. Able to create shapes and go places that steel just cannot, the soft nature of this metal makes it highly sought after for those who are working on complex projects of all kinds. Furthermore, aluminum is also corrosion resistant thanks to anodization, unlike regular steel, which often has to be treated in order to prevent corrosion. Additionally, at almost 1/3 of the weight of steel, aluminum is also the lighter of the two materials.
On the other hand, steel is a much stronger material than aluminum, making it preferable for those who are working on projects that require a sturdier material. Furthermore, you can try certain grades of stainless steel if you want a material you can easily weld. Moreover, steel has the upper hand with regards to thermal properties as steel can be used at much higher temperatures, while aluminum becomes almost too soft to work with at around 400 degrees.
The Cost of Aluminum Vs. Steel
Although steel is one of the toughest and most sturdy metals available, it’s also typically the least expensive.
While the costs of materials and commodities tend to fluctuate with time, on the whole, steel is actually cheaper per pound than aluminum. This is because there is typically a higher raw material cost associated with aluminum than steel. Aluminum can cost 20-30% or even up to 60% more than stainless steel, depending on what the materials are being used for.
Ready to Decide?
Overall, while aluminum and steel each have their unique benefits, steel is both the stronger and cheaper of the two. However, the perfect type of steel for any given project depends on the custom metal components required for your specific project.
As such, it’s best to discuss your choice(s) of metal with your fabricator before submitting a design.