Introduction:

Metal fabrication is all around you, and the possibilities are almost endless. The fabrication process involves manipulating metals in order to create something new. Metal fabrication processes play a significant role in our economy. Without it, we couldn’t power our electrical systems or manufacture the parts that keep our houses, kitchens, businesses, computers, and vehicles running. It is true that fabricated metal products are common, but fabrication is also a critical part of the manufacturing process. It’s used in a wide variety of products for almost every industry, from paper clips to plane parts. In 2020, U.S. fabricated metal production reached nearly $353 billion USD.

Across the industrial sector, an extensive range of metals and alloys are used to fabricate industrial components. Metals are chosen according to factors such as tensile strength, formability, weight, resistance to corrosion, and cost. An exclusive group of metals is used in metal fabrication services which include stainless steel, mild steel, aluminium, brass, and copper.

The limitations and strengths of aluminium and stainless steel affect metal fabrication significantly. The difference between the two can help you determine the most appropriate for your project as a potential client. It is not a new fact that steel and aluminium are two of the most important materials. This is not just true in the construction and manufacturing industries, but also in other sectors. This blog explains whether aluminium or stainless steel is better for metal fabrication services in Melbourne:

 

ABOUT STAINLESS STEEL:

A stainless-steel alloy is a ferrous alloy containing 11% chromium and comes under the corrosion-resistant steel category. In addition to its heat resistance, stainless steel is also anti-corrosive. The main constituents of stainless steel are iron and carbon. However, it also contains several other alloying elements, chromium being the most important.

 

ABOUT ALUMINIUM:

Aluminum has a low density and is non-ferrous. To a certain extent, aluminium can be found in nearly all vegetation, animals, and rocks. Aluminum is the primary metallic component of bauxite ore, a sedimentary rock mixture found in the Earth’s crust. As a non-ferrous metal, aluminium derived from bauxite ore is soft and pliable. To fabricate products, they must be alloyed with silicon, zinc, magnesium, copper, and manganese, among others.

 

COMPARISONSTAINLESS STEEL Vs. ALUMINIUM

1) Heat Resistance: 

The excellent thermal characteristics of stainless steel make it an ideal material for high-temperature applications. Aluminium begins to weaken at temperatures over 200°C, while stainless steel remains strong at temperatures up to 400°C. Aluminium’s tensile strength increases as the temperature decreases, while steel becomes brittle at low temperatures.

2) Electrical and Thermal Conductivity:

Thermal conductivity should be considered when comparing the two. It is important to understand this property when choosing a metal for an application that requires heat transfer. Aluminum is a better conductor of electrical and thermal energy than stainless steel. Aluminium is ideal for power lines because of its high electrical conductivity, lightweight, and corrosion resistance. Consequently, aluminium is a great material for applications requiring heat, such as heat exchangers, car radiators, and air conditioning units.

3) Cost:

Compared to stainless steel, aluminium is more affordable. A number of factors support this, including the natural abundance of the material, the growth of the ore market, and the ease of manufacturing. In contrast, stainless steel is a bit expensive due to the alloying metals such as copper, manganese, iron, chromium, and nickel. Aluminum is a cheaper option for manufacturers on a budget. Furthermore, aluminium products, such as railings and beams, are lighter, making them easier to install, therefore reducing product damage costs.

4) Corrosion:

 Iron, chromium, nickel, manganese, and copper make up stainless steel. Adding chromium ensures corrosion resistance. In addition, since it is non-porous, it has high corrosion resistance. It is possible for aluminium to corrode rapidly in some extremely acidic or base environments, leading to disastrous results.

5) Workability:

Due to its relative softness, aluminium is easy to cut and shape. Stainless steel can be difficult to work with due to its resistance to wear and abrasion. Welding stainless steel is relatively cost-effective, easier to learn, and more forgiving than welding aluminium. The welding process for aluminium requires more skill and cleanliness, but aluminium parts are lighter and more corrosion-resistant. Compared to aluminium, stainless steel is 2.5 times heavier and much stronger. Due to its sensitivity to oxides and hydrocarbons, aluminium welding can be challenging to perform.

6) Strength:

 Compared to stainless steel, aluminium is lighter, denser, and stronger. In spite of its one-third weight, aluminium has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than stainless steel. Because of its lightweight and high strength-to-weight ratio, aluminium fabrication, is excellent for various aerospace and automotive parts and assemblies, increasing fuel efficiency while improving load capacity. In contrast, stainless steel is preferred by fabricators for structural components as well as the design and architecture of structures.

7) Weldability:

 In comparison to aluminium, stainless steel fabrication is relatively easier to weld if your application requires welding. This is largely due to aluminium’s high thermal conductivity and low melting point, which make it difficult to work with.

8) Recyclability and Environmental Impact:

 The recyclability of stainless steel is well known. The global recycling rate of steel is among the highest. As a result of its magnetic properties, it is easy to recover from waste streams for recycling. No matter how many times steel is recycled, its properties remain unchanged. Despite steel being the most recycled material, aluminium is the most recyclable. The value of discarded aluminium in your recycling bin is higher than that of any other material. It is estimated that nearly 75 per cent of aluminium produced in the U.S. is still in use today because aluminium is a true closed-loop recyclable material. 

9) Industries:

Aluminium leaches and dissolves in food, and is difficult to clean due to its tendency to scratch and dent. Because stainless steel is strong, durable, and resistant to bacteria and germs, it is used extensively for kitchenware, cutlery, and appliances.

10) In Terms of Fabrication Methods:

Although welding Aluminum is difficult, moulding and cutting it to produce the desired shape takes the least amount of effort. Meanwhile, stainless steel is the ideal choice for fabrication when crisp edges are needed and cracking is to be avoided. If you want to create the longest-lasting joints, you need to use stainless steel when welding. Likewise, stainless steel is the best material for fabricating rigid and durable structures that remain functional for a long time. 

Aluminum has a double linear expansion coefficient compared to stainless steel. As a result, it is more suitable for restricted welding. Another striking difference between stainless steel and aluminium is that aluminium’s colour does not change as it approaches its melting point. Compared to stainless steel, aluminium is more malleable and elastic. However, aluminium is easily dented and scratched. Metal is therefore unsuitable for heavy-duty applications. 

Conclusion:

That’s it-a quick overview of the key differences between aluminium and stainless steel. In addition to having its own advantages, each material is better suited to certain applications than others. From the discussion above, it appears that depending on your needs, you should choose stainless steel or aluminium for metal fabrication. In situations requiring higher cohesive strength, stainless steel is always recommended. In terms of weight and precision, aluminium is the best choice. In order to select the best material for your next metal fabrication project, keep these key points in mind.

Looking for metal fabrication services in Melbourne? Founded over 30 years ago, Ju Chen Welding has gained extensive industry experience and provides quality stainless steel fabrication in Melbourne. Throughout the years, Ju Chen has offered aluminium fabrication services in western suburbs and stainless steel fabrication in northern suburb projects varying in size and scale. Ju Chen places a high priority on customer service in addition to quality workmanship. As a result, Ju Chen always meets deadlines and completes projects on time or ahead of schedule. Our expertise and outstanding customer service have made us a trusted and reliable partner for clients across Australia. For more information about our fabrication capabilities with stainless steel and aluminium, please contact us today!