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10 Differences Between Aluminium and Stainless Steel

Aluminium and Stainless Steel might look similar, but they are actually quite different. Keep these 10 differences in mind when deciding which type of metal to use in your next project:
aluminum vs. stainless
1. Strength to weight ratio. Aluminium is typically not as strong as steel, but it is also almost one third of the weight. This is the main reason why aircraft are made from Aluminium.

2. Corrosion. Stainless steel is made up of iron, chromium, nickel, manganese and copper.  The chromium is added as an agent to provide corrosion resistance.  Also, because it is non-porous the resistance to corrosion is increased. Aluminium has a high oxidation and corrosion resistance mainly due to its passivation layer.  When aluminium is oxidized, its surface will turn white and will sometimes pit. In some extreme acidic or base environments, Aluminium may corrode rapidly with catastrophic results.

3. Thermal Conductivity. Aluminium has a much better thermal conductivity (conductor of heat) than stainless steel. One of the main reasons it is used for car radiators and air conditioning units.

4. Cost. Aluminium is typically cheaper than stainless steel.

5. Workability. Aluminium is fairly soft and easier to cut and form. Due to its resistance to wear and abrasion, Stainless can be difficult to work with. Stainless steels are harder and are especially harder to form than aluminium.

6. Welding. Stainless is relatively easy to weld, while Aluminium can be difficult.

7. Thermal properties. Stainless can be used at much higher temperatures than Aluminium which can become very soft above about 400 degrees.

8. Electrical Conductivity. Stainless steel is a really poor conductor compared to most metals. Aluminium is a very good conductor of electricity. Due to its high conductance, light weight, and corrosion resistance, high-voltage overhead power lines are generally made of aluminium.

9. Strength. Stainless steel is stronger than Aluminium (provided weight is not a consideration).

10. Effect on Foods. Stainless steel is less reactive with foods.  Aluminium can react to foods which may affect color and flavor.

Don’t have time to read the blog?

Watch the video below to find out the 10 differences between aluminium and stainless steel:

Metal Supermarkets


Metal Supermarkets is the world’s largest small-quantity metal supplier with 125 brick-and-mortar stores across the US, Canada, and United Kingdom. We are metal experts and have been providing quality customer service and products since 1985.

At Metal Supermarkets, we supply a wide range of metals for a variety of applications. Our stock includes: mild steel, stainless steel, aluminium, tool steel, engineering steel, brass, bronze and copper.

We carry a wide range of shapes including: bars, tubes, sheets and plates. We can cut metal to your exact specifications.

Visit one of our 8 locations in the United Kingdom today.

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