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Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel and Their Uses in Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

June 26th, 2017 · No Comments

At Thomas Engineering Company, we’re able to process virtually every metal for our precision stamped parts. From the delicate copper parts we fabricate for the electronics industry to the resistant stainless steel parts we manufacture for the automotive industry, TEC uses a wide range of metals and metal alloys. For complex, thin stamped, precision-based parts, Thomas Engineering Company can be your go-to fabricator with our high quality services in metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

In some cases, there are parts that could be made from several differing materials to the same effect, given their purpose. It’s important to compare those materials to determine whether or not the materials would have a different effect. While aluminum and stainless steel are very different metals, there are times when either could be used in a single application. TEC engineers often know from experience, skill, and training which metal to choose, but a basic comparison can be helpful on occasion.

Aluminum

Aluminum is much less expensive than stainless steel, and at a third of the weight of stainless steel, aluminum is useful in lightweight applications for parts that don’t need the heavy-duty strength of stainless steel. That being said, aluminum is still a strong metal in its own right, for example, with parts that don’t demand a higher weight-to-strength ratio.

Aluminum also has naturally high resistance to corrosion and oxidation. However, if aluminum reaches the point where it begins to oxidize, or if it’s exposed to extreme acids or bases, it may rapidly lose structural integrity.

Aluminum is softer and more workable than stainless steel, allowing for more variety in parts without compromising other properties. Additionally, aluminum is a good conductor of electricity, making it ideal for complex parts in the electronics industry that will endure low heat environments.

Stainless Steel

Because it’s stronger and heavier than aluminum, stainless steel can be used in higher stress applications. Stainless steel parts can also be exposed to much higher temperatures and corrosive environments than aluminum parts, though it doesn’t conduct heat or electricity well. Stainless steel is less workable than aluminum because of its hardness, but it can be more easily welded into altered parts.

Overall, there are many cases where there are parts that could be made from stainless steel, but would be more efficiently stamped with aluminum. For example, many automotive parts that traditionally were made from steel are now made from aluminum. There are also many cases where stainless steel is more ideal for a certain part despite its higher price.

Basic comparisons of metals such as this comparison between aluminum and stainless steel can be helpful to the customer and TEC engineers when planning and designing parts. For more information about the materials we use for precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501.

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