Whether you're looking to add a metallic element to your kitchen benchtops at home or are in charge of a production facility that creates metal products, you probably need to decide between aluminum and steel. Both are often readily available and, while steel may often be thought of as the stronger option, aluminum has many benefits that are often overlooked when it comes to metal parts, benchtop covering, and the like. Note a few differences between aluminum and steel so you can decide the best metal for your project or production facility.
Most metal will need to be fabricated for a project; this can mean cutting with shears or welding. Aluminum is easier to cut and bend, so if you're creating a benchtop or other such metal product at home, aluminum can be the better choice. However, because it's so soft, aluminum is much more difficult to weld and may not withstand heat as much as steel. That being said, you often need to melt or heat steel in order to bend or cut it or attach different pieces. If your production line means having to cut and bend metal and you don't want to invest in welding equipment and trained personnel or heat bending, aluminum is the better option.
Weight and strength
Steel is considered stronger than aluminum since it's not easy to bend it out of shape, but note that aluminum is far lighter than steel. If you're creating projects for home, note if you might need to brace up your home's frame or other components to support the weight of steel. Even for kitchen benchtops, this can be a factor to consider. For a production facility, if you don't need the added strength of steel, you need to consider the cost of shipping parts and finished products like outdoor furniture, fencing, and other items that can be made with aluminum rather than steel.
Thermal and electrical conductivity
Aluminum conducts electricity far better than steel so it's often a better choice for any product that needs an electrical charge or circuit, such as circuit boards and motors. However, it doesn't conduct heat as well as steel. This actually makes it a better choice for parts and pieces that should remain as cool as possible, such as car air conditioners and radiators or that benchtop for your kitchen. The heat surrounding these pieces won't affect aluminum as quickly or easily as it would with steel, keeping the piece cooler.