Metal Fabrication Resources by Blackstone Advanced Technologies

The Cost of Aluminum vs. Steel in Sheet Metal Fabrication

Both steel and aluminum are used for making heavy-duty applications such as vehicles, buildings, machines, utilities, and more. Even if you are buying materials in sheets for shells, insulation, or something else, it's important to note that one type of metal isn't universally better than the other.

 


Prices Of Steel And Aluminum
 
The prices of aluminum and steel both change depending on the time you buy as well as the distributor, so sometimes steel will be more expensive, and other times, it will be aluminum. This is due to the supply and demands of aluminum and steel which cause prices to rise or lower. In recent times, aluminum has been known to be the pricier of the two, more often than not. With that said, the quality of both materials is pretty much the same, but they work in drastically different ways from one another. Here are some instances of when to buy either material for your projects.
 
When To Buy Steel:
 
If You Need Something Heavier.
If your application is meant to be heavy, you'll want to choose steel. Steel overall weighs roughly three times as much as aluminum, making it ideal for heavy and slow-moving applications. Boats and marine vehicles often go with steel for this reason.
 
If You Need Something Durable.
Steel is overall more durable than aluminum. That means it is much harder to dent and puncture, especially in sheet form. Steel also doesn't bend like aluminum, so those that pick steel can enjoy its strength and resiliency.
If You Need Insulation.
 
Steel is simply a better insulation over aluminum. It can keep hot or cold air inside or outside of the thing that it was made for with no penetration. Steel is commonly great for pipes to transfer hot or cold liquids, or working in hot or cold environments.
If You're Short On Money.
 
If you are tight on money, need to buy a metal now, and do not have a certain preference, you can get steel when it is more affordable than aluminum.
 
When To Buy Aluminum:
 
If You Need Something Lighter.
Aluminum is the material of choice for many vehicles for a number of reasons. Firstly, aluminum is lightweight while still being a hard material. Thus, aluminum can allow cars to still move fast and maneuver as intended. Cars as well as planes are known for being made of aluminum.
 
If You Don't Want Rust Or Corrosion.
Barring stainless steel, steel in general can rust or corrode much faster than aluminum, so if your products depend on looking flawless or appealing, you will tend to fare better with aluminum. Aluminum is great for vehicles as it can be painted to flaunt flashy colors and not rust for a while.
 
If You Need Something More Elastic.
Whereas steel can break, aluminum can bend, keeping it intact and usable despite any and all deformations. Aluminum is much easier to dent or bend, but there are times in which this is an advantage over steel than a disadvantage. If steel snaps in pieces, then it is virtually unusable and very difficult to restore. Therefore, aluminum will tend to be easier to repair.
 
If You're Short On Money.
Like steel, if you are on a small budget and need to buy a metal right away, aluminum can work for general-purpose applications.
 
Conclusion
 
Steel and aluminum are two types of metals are not often used interchangeably. Steel is a heavy and strong metal that can take a beating, whereas aluminum is light, rust-resistant, and doesn't break as easily. Take each trait for steel and aluminum into account when purchasing sheet metal. Depending on what you need the metal for, getting the cheaper metal at the time isn't always the better option.

 

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