Aluminum Vs. Steel
When you're making a decision on what is going to be the best material to use for your project, there are a few things to consider. We all know that aluminium and steel are the two most popular, so we thought we'd dig a little deeper and give you some unbiased information that will help you on your way to your dream build or finding the right supplier/manufacturer.
So Let's Start with the main difference...
- Steel is made from alloys of iron and carbon.
- Aluminium is made from bauxite, which is ground into a paste called alumina. This is then smelted with cryolite and induced with an electrical shock - you then have aluminium.
Cost is always an essential factor to consider when discussing materials in manufacturing. The price of aluminium and steel are always fluctuating depending on fuel costs, global supply & demand and of course availability, however, steel is generally cheaper. In raw material form, aluminium is approximately 3 times more expensive than steel, therefore, you can expect to see this price difference in most products, for example, steel versus aluminium trailers.
Strength & Malleability
Aluminium is more elastic and malleable than steel, so can be used in a lot more variety of products and in more creative ways. Aluminium can create shapes that steel simply cannot. Steel is very tough and resilient in terms of strength, however, cannot be pushed to the same limits as aluminium without cracking or ripping. Steel's strength comes from its carbon component. The more carbon, the stronger the metal.
Aluminium is corrosion resistant and simply won't rust. It creates a passivation layer that helps it resist oxidation. Steel usually needs to be painted, galvanised or chem-treated to protect it from rusting or corrosion, especially if exposed to a humid, wet or abrasive environment.
Weight & Density
Steel is harder than aluminium. Aluminium dents and scratches more easily than steel. Steel is strong and less likely to warp, deform or bend under weight, force or heat, however the trade off of this is that steel is much heavier than aluminium. Steel is approximately 2.5 times denser than aluminium.
While you may be tempted to go with the cheaper material for your project, it’s important to weigh all factors. When designing a custom shape or profile, using aluminium is surprisingly inexpensive because of the affordable tooling costs.
Here at Xtreme8 Trailers, we like to use both aluminium and steel, and depending on the individual project, environment and purpose of the product, we always give our best recommendations based on experience and knowledge.