Every fabrication project starts somewhere—usually with a design or CAD mockup. But before that idea can become something real, an important choice needs to be made about the type of metal that’s going to be used to craft it. Often, the choice comes down to aluminum vs. steel fabrication in Phoenix, AZ.
Aluminum and steel are the two most abundant fabrication metals in the world today for a number of reasons. First, they’re both very inert and can hold up to just about any application. Second, they’re strong and durable, providing longevity to fabrication projects. Finally, they’re easy to work with in a way that allows them to be rolled, stamped, milled, cut, joined and more.
But what makes them different from one another? Why do some projects benefit from steel, while others are best comprised of aluminum? The answers lay in comparing the two side by side. Though their differences are simple, they can have a fundamental impact on the way a fabrication project turns out:
- Cost: First and foremost to consider is cost. Though costs fluctuate constantly on metals of all types, steel and aluminum have fundamentally different costs comparatively. Aluminum is almost always going to cost more because the raw price of the ore is going to be higher. Steel, on the other hand, is exceptionally abundant, making it easier to come by and therefore cheaper to work with.
- Weight: The real difference between the two materials is their weight. Aluminum is substantially lighter than steel. In fact, steel outweighs aluminum by a density of more than 2:1. For applications that demand lighter materials, aluminum is a must-have. If weight isn’t an obstacle, however, steel is a smart alternative.
- Durability: Metal has inherent durability, but steel especially has the strength to ensure quite a lot. This is why it’s often a foremost option for fabrication projects. Aluminum is also strong, but in a different way. Aluminum withstands things like rusting and corrosion, and offers better shape strength than steel—meaning it can be fabricated into different shapes without compromising its integrity.
- Practicality: Depending on the type of project, aluminum or steel fabrication in Phoenix, AZ may be an inherently better choice. For example, steel may be a smarter metal for a massive outdoor fabrication project, while aluminum may be perfect for a smaller, more intricate application. Looking at the nature of the project versus the characteristics of the two metals will aid in making the best choice.
Let’s also not forget about the workability of these two metals, such as welding them or cutting them! Before your fabrication project gets off the ground, the smart thing to do is to consult with a fabrication specialist about what the ideal options might be for your specific project.
Taking into account the variables above, along with the properties and demands of your project, will enable a fabricator to put you on the right path to the right material. Ultimately, this leads to saved costs and better outcomes.