Aluminum and steel are both popular materials that are used to manufacture building materials, household goods, and custom products. If you own a manufacturing plant and are having difficulty deciding if a new product will benefit from the addition of aluminum or steel components, learn more about the materials and how they compare against each other.
Non-Renewable and Fully Recyclable
Both aluminum and steel are mined. Bauxite is extracted from the ground and refined into aluminum oxide. Steel is made up of iron ore, oxygen, and other natural metals. It is then smelted in a blast furnace. Both metal types are non-renewable. This means that once materials are mined, they will not regenerate.
Both metals are fully recyclable, however. It may entice you to use either of these materials during the production of goods, since these types of metals can be considered environmentally friendly and practical.
Aluminum is resistant to corrosion and will not require the use of any special coatings. Steel products are susceptible to corrosion. Steel that contains chromium is referred to as stainless steel. The chromium provides resistance to rust. Steel that does not contain chromium is referred to as plain steel. This type of metal will require the use of a rust inhibitor. Paint or powder coatings are often applied to steel surfaces. Either type of coating will protect steel that is going to be exposed to moisture.
Strength and Malleability
Steel is harder than aluminum. It is less likely to warp or bend than aluminum. It is a heavier metal type that may not always be useful for a desired application. When strength and weight are important factors, steel may be the product to use. If a material is being used for cosmetic reasons and a unique shape needs to be used for the metal addition, aluminum may be more suitable to use during production.
Both metal types can withstand harsh environments, but aluminum will be more likely to show signs of wear. Marks in an aluminum surface are possible, if care isn't taken to preserve the condition of the metal.
Aluminum is a malleable metal. It can be shaped into a wide range of layouts. This makes this metal type suitable for the production of custom goods that are going to contain unique dimensions or intricate details. Steel is suitable for the production of flat panels or custom materials that contain basic shapes.