When the topic of metal fabrication comes up, the conversation is usually dominated by steel. Steel is perhaps the most versatile metal available to metalworkers and represents a huge chunk of all fabrication projects in the industry. And, given the cost and benefits associated with steel fabrication in Phoenix, AZ, it’s no wonder most people just assume it’s the best material for the job.
But steel isn’t the only material out there! In fact, there’s a diverse range of materials used for metal fabrication. Picking the right one all depends on the application and the expectations for whatever is being fabricated. Let’s take a look at some of the most prevalent metals used for fabrication and where they’re best applied:
- Steel: We’ve obviously touched on steel, but it’s worth noting that there are carbon and stainless steel varieties out there. Carbon steel is thicker and heavier, and is often used for fabrication applications that’ll need to stand up to harsh conditions or brutal wear. (Think of HVAC ducts or storage tanks.) Stainless steel is steel infused with chromium, which keeps it from rusting. It’s more expensive than carbon steel and best applicable for sanitary conditions.
- Aluminum: Aluminum is extremely lightweight and flexible, and is a popular alternative to stainless steel. It resists corrosion, making it also acceptable for applications that demand a cleaner metal. It tends to be more expensive. Aluminum is most associated with projects where weight concerns are paramount, such as aerospace fabrication projects.
- Copper: Copper is a raw ore and very pliable, making it a great option for a host of different fabrication projects. It’s most applicable for projects where sanitation is important, such as plumbing or cookware. It has antibacterial properties, but can be prone to corrosion if not properly shielded.
- Iron: Iron tips the scales as the heftiest raw material used in fabrication, but with that heft comes a whole lot of durability. Iron products are built to last and can endure just about anything thrown at them. Perhaps the best example of iron’s capabilities and practicality is a cast iron cookware pan.
Now, even beyond these classic staples, metal fabrication can encompass a variety of other materials. Gold and silver are ripe for fabrication, but used much less consistency because of their raw value.
There’s also alloys to consider, which represent the fusing of two or more metals. A great example here is manganese steel, which is a steel alloy that includes 13 percent manganese. It has great workability and is extremely strong, retaining the properties of steel while benefiting from the manganese addition.
Finally, we’ve got the uncommon metals. Metals like titanium, chromium, Inconel and more are all viable for metalworking projects, but for one reason or another, aren’t often used. Sometimes, poor workability is the barrier. Other times, the cost of using these materials is too high. Or, even more commonly, steel or another alloy will deliver the same benefits at a fraction of the cost.
Metalworking is a field of diverse materials. The next time you’re thinking about fabrication, realize that it goes far beyond steel fabrication in Phoenix, AZ.