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Extruded Profiles: Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel

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When you're searching for the extruded metal profiles it often comes down to a showdown; aluminum profiles, versus stainless steel profiles. Don't worry, deciding between the two doesn't have to be a puzzle. There are factors to consider including the advantages, weight considerations and of course your constraints.


Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel

Both aluminum and stainless steel have their place in the world of manufacturing for extruded profiles and panels. Aluminum enters as the cheaper competitor, but its lightweight – nimble and not as strong as its counterpart in stainless steel. In terms of strength, stainless steel is the heftier contender with a higher yield strength and point load carrying capacity that puts aluminum on the ropes.

Now, the puzzle gets tough and tough when the stainless steel throws a curveball. It's pricier than aluminum, but not just to give a run for your money. It's got that heavyweight title for durability and strength. Plus, it's the undisputed champ in the ring of corrosion resistance. It can even outlast copper, forming a protective oxide layer that says, "No more corrosion, please!"


Comparing Aluminum and Stainless Steel in Extrusion

When deciding what materials to use for extrusion, the choice between aluminum and stainless steel can be very challenging. Various factors determine this decision. In order to help you make a clear choice for your specific needs, we’ll explore these two materials more in-depth.


Environmental Responsibility

We’ve all heard that aluminum takes way more energy to make than stainless steel. And that’s true. Aluminum leaves a heavier carbon footprint over its lifetime compared to stainless steel. You might want to opt for stainless steel if you want to prioritize being environmentally responsible.


Weight and Strength

There’s one big factor when it comes to weight that you have to consider. Aluminum has a much wider range of options than stainless steel does. That alone makes it versatile and appealing as a material for lightweight but sturdy components. The weight of your finished product comes down to the kind of alloy you choose with aluminum, like 6061-T6, 6061-T651, AA2024, and AA6061 give you the ability to control how heavy or light your project is.

Stainless steel on the other hand only really has two popular alloys which are 304 and 316. These tend to be heavier than the ones stated before but their corrosion resistance sets them apart from the rest. This gives stainless steel an advantage in places where environmental conditions are super harsh like marine hardware and plumbing.



When deciding on material, finance is something that plays a big role in your decision making. Stainless steel is well known to have durability and long-term service. They can keep up with the test of time, this lowers the cost of having to replace it in the future.

On the other hand, aluminum is much cheaper. It costs less to make and doesn’t require much maintenance. The way it’s built makes it light. If you decide to go for a budget efficient project, balancing weight could give you room for more things.


Performance and Precision

For industries where tight manufacturing tolerances are needed, precision and performance are very important. Aluminum is usually picked when it comes to this area because of its lower maximum yield strength compared to stainless steel. Its substance makes it easy to manipulate into different shapes.

If what you need however are materials that can be machined and welded easily, then 6061 T6 aluminum would be a great choice. On top of that, it also suits heavy duty components such as bookcase bases and trash compactor casters. Stainless steel would be the go-to if you need intricate finishes and complex shapes. It’s rusts resistant so this won’t affect anything during welding or if you change your mind on design in the future.


Take Away

Now, if you prefer a lightweight appearance aluminum is the choice. It works wonderfully when portability is a priority.

However, if you value durability and strength like a champion stainless steel is the winner. It stands tall against the challenges saying goodbye to rust and corrosion. Need help making your decision? Feel free to reach out to us for advice on your project!

There you have it! The ultimate comparison, between aluminum and stainless-steel profiles. Now it's time for you to go there and select the winner that best suits your project. It's best if you have an understanding of your projects. There are just areas where aluminum may not be your best option, but it doesn’t mean your steel is going to fail you too.