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Aluminum and Steel: Which’s a Better Product for You
Time: 2024-02-19
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Aluminum and steel are two metal materials that we often use in industry and construction. The two materials have different uses and properties due to their different chemical compositions. Let us understand through this blog post what are the differences between aluminum and steel?

What Is Steel?

Steel refers to the general term for iron-carbon alloys with a mass percentage of carbon between 0.02% and 2.11%. In addition to carbon, this material also contains small amounts of manganese, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur and other elements. Steel with a carbon content of less than 1.7% is called carbon steel; in actual production, steel often contains different alloying elements, such as manganese, nickel, vanadium, etc., depending on its use.

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Aluminum is essentially a metallic element, appearing as a silver-white light metal. It is ductile and its content in the earth’s crust ranks third after oxygen and silicon. It is the most abundant metallic element in the earth’s crust.

Physical properties and chemical properties

From the perspective of density: the density of aluminum is about 2.70 g/cm³, which is relatively low; while the density of steel is usually around 7.85 g/cm³. This means that the same volume of aluminum is much lighter than steel.

Ⅰ Hardness of Aluminum and Steel

Although aluminum alloys are stronger, they are still slightly inferior to steel. The hardness of aluminum alloy can usually reach 120-150HV, which is relatively low. In comparison, steel is stronger and harder than aluminum alloys. Steel is denser and generally harder than aluminum alloys. For example, the Brinell hardness of No. 45 steel without quenching is about 300, which is much higher than the hardness of aluminum alloy. Steel is also very strong and can withstand large amounts of pressure and weight.

Ⅱ The difference between thermal conductivity properties

The thermal conductivity of steel is only 50W/(m·K), while that of aluminum is about 220W/(m·K), which makes aluminum an excellent heat exchange material. For example, fin materials, CPU radiators, computer cases, car radiators, etc.

Ⅲ Environmental Impact of Aluminum and Steel:

The production process of aluminum is more energy-intensive  than steel, but from an overall life cycle perspective, aluminum can reduce energy consumption and emissions during transportation due to its light weight.

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Ⅳ Some differences in application areas between aluminum and steel:

  • First of all, aluminum is widely used in aviation manufacturing, electronic products, architectural decoration and other fields because of its light weight, high strength, and good electrical conductivity. Aluminum can be used to make aircraft, automobiles, electronic equipment casings, etc., and can also be used to make doors, windows, ceilings and other building materials.
  • Steel is widely used in manufacturing, construction, automobile and shipbuilding and other fields because of its high strength, good wear resistance and corrosion resistance. Steel can be used to manufacture bridges, buildings, ships, heavy machinery and other products that need to withstand heavy pressure or friction

In summary, aluminum and steel each have their own advantages and limitations, and the choice of material depends on the specific application requirements.

Quanshuo Metal Materials is a manufacturer that has passed ISO9001:2015, TUV, SGS, and CE certification. It mainly produces Aluminum and Stainless Steel, etc., with an annual output of 300,000 tons. Looking forward to your inquiry.

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+86 13027616811