But what’s the difference between the two materials, and when should you choose one over the other? Here we’ll look at the properties of each metal for an idea of when to choose aluminium or stainless steel.
When to Choose Aluminium Instead of Stainless Steel
1. If Weight is Crucial
Aluminium is much lighter than stainless steel, which can be advantageous in applications where weight is a concern. This makes it particularly useful in the transportation industry, such as for aircraft and automobiles.
2. If You Require Electrical Conductivity
Unlike stainless steel, which is a poor conductor of electricity, aluminium conducts electricity very well. This makes it suitable for a range of electrical applications, such as in wiring and electrical components.
3. If You Want a Malleable Metal
Aluminium can be easily formed and shaped, making it ideal for applications where complex shapes are required. It’s easier to work than stainless steel because it’s easier to cut, bend, and manipulate. It starts to get soft at just 204°C.
When to Choose Stainless Steel Instead of Aluminium
1. If Strength is Paramount
Stainless steel has a higher tensile strength than aluminium and can withstand higher stress and load. This makes it suitable for applications that require high strength, such as structural components in construction or heavy machinery.
2. If Corrosion Resistance is Crucial
Although both stainless steel and aluminium have properties that make them resistant to corrosion, stainless steel takes the lead. Aluminium has good rust prevention, but stainless steel has added chromium which gives it good protection against many types of corrosion. This can be useful in applications where the material will be exposed to harsh environments or corrosive chemicals.
3. If You Require High Temperature Resistance
Stainless steel can withstand high temperatures better than aluminium. Stainless steel has a melting point of 1371°C, while aluminium has a melting point of 660°C and starts to get soft at just 204°C. This makes stainless steel more suitable for use in high-temperature applications, such as engines and exhaust systems.
4. If Aesthetics Matter
Stainless steel has a shiny, polished appearance that is often preferred for decorative or architectural applications. In contrast, aluminium has a dull finish that may not be considered as aesthetically pleasing.
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We stock a vast range of aluminium and stainless steel, with a variety of bars, sheets and extrusions to choose from.
Any of our stocked metal can be cut to size if required, making us a primary supplier of metal for bespoke projects. We supply a variety of industries and companies, from small businesses to large corporations.