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What is the Difference Between Stainless Steel and Aluminum?


Stainless steel is a corrosion-resistant alloy and does not rust even with saltwater or water at high or low temperatures. Stainless steel has chromium which helps in the process of passivation. With the help of chromium, a thin layer of chromium oxide is created by reaction with oxygen in the atmosphere, and the oxygen also gets dissolved in water in small quantities. This thin layer prevents additional corrosion by hindering the diffusion of oxygen to the surface of the steel and stopping the spread of corrosion to the complete metal. The thin layer has self-repairing properties. The corrosion resistance due to this layer depends on the chromium content mainly. Stainless steel is available in different grades and its corrosion depends on the environment in which it is used. Different grades of stainless steel are suitable for different environments.  

Stainless steel has several Shapes, Lengths, Sizes, and Grades including 304 Stainless, 316 Stainless, Sheets, Floor Plate, and Perforated Sheet. Stainless steel has the following characteristics:

  • Corrosion Resistant
  • Cryogenic Toughness
  • High-temperature resistance
  • Durable and lasts longer
  • Low magnetic permeability
  • Lower maintenance
  • Recyclable
  • Higher Strength and hardness
  • Attractive appearance
  • Higher Ductility
  • Ease of fabrication

Stainless steel is used in different forms including plates, sheets, bars, wires, and tubes which are used for manufacturing several products such as machines, kitchen appliances, cookware, surgical instruments, automobiles, aircraft, tools, and cutlery, and even in building construction and commercial kitchens.


Aluminum is a shiny and silver, corrosion-resistant alloy that is light in weight and has high strength at low temperatures. Just like stainless steel, there is a thin layer of oxide on aluminum which is meant to protect it from the air so, which means it is non-reactive to air but if this layer is damaged or removed the aluminum can burn by reacting with the oxygen in the air. The thin layer of oxide prevents corrosion by hindering the diffusion of oxygen to the aluminum and stopping the corrosion. Aluminum is obtained by the process of electrolysis. It is the most cost-effective method to refine metals at the highest purity and usually, aluminum is obtained by using this technique.

Aluminum is available in several Shapes, Lengths, Sizes, and Grades including 6061 Aluminum, 6063 Aluminum, Channels, Channels-Sharp corners and Aluminum Beam or Aluminum I beam. Aluminum has the following characteristics:

  • Corrosion Resistant
  • Light Weight
  • Reflective and Shiny
  • Electric and Thermal Conductor
  • Durable and lasts longer
  • Non-magnetic
  • Sound and shock absorbent
  • Non-toxic and odorless
  • Recyclable
  • Higher Strength at low temperatures
  • Attractive appearance
  • Non-sparking
  • Higher Ductility
  • Ease of fabrication

Aluminum is used in different forms including angles, sheets, channels, wires, and beams which are used for manufacturing several products such as aircraft and automobile parts, window and door frames, plumbing accessories, batteries, traffic lights, electronic equipment, roofs and ceilings, support for different structures and interior and exterior applications.

Differences Between Stainless Steel and Aluminum

Stainless Steel and Aluminum look quite similar but they have several differences listed below:

  1. Strength: Stainless Steel is considered superior to Aluminum when it comes to strength.
  2. Corrosion: Stainless steel contains chromium which makes it highly corrosion-resistant because when it reacts with the environment chromium oxide is formed which creates a layer over the metal in order to prevent rust and corrosion. On the other hand, Aluminum is considered to have high oxidation. It has good resistance to corrosion because of the passivation layer, however, in extreme conditions and environments, it can corrode rapidly as compared to stainless steel.
  3. Weight: Aluminum is lighter in weight as compared to Stainless steel.
  4. Thermal properties and conductivity: Aluminum is considered to have an excellent thermal conductivity as compared to stainless steel however stainless steel is considered more suitable for high-temperature applications because Aluminum tends to get softer at very high temperatures and stainless steel is high-temperature resistant metal.
  5. Cost-Effective: Aluminum is more cost-effective as compared to stainless steel.
  6. Welding: Stainless steel has better weldability properties than aluminum.
  7. Electric Conductivity: Aluminum is considered one of the good conductors of electricity when it comes to metals. Stainless steel has poor electric conductivity.