Aluminium, Steel

Steel vs Aluminium: Which Is Better in Extreme Temperatures?

steel vs aluminium

There’s a lot that goes into choosing the right metal for the job: you need to think about its weight, strength, how easy it is to work with, and much more. If you choose a metal that doesn’t fit the bill, you might have to pay for costly replacements after it cracks or warps. In the worst-case scenario, it could even collapse completely, posing a real danger to the people and property around it.

An important thing to consider is how well your metal will hold up under the temperatures it will be exposed to. This is especially true if it’s going to be used in very hot or cold environments, as extreme temperatures can take a serious toll on the strength and stability of some metals.

Since 1994, MG Metals have supplied high-quality, custom-cut metal to people all across the UK. In the comparison below, we delve into the heat and cold resistance of both steel and aluminium to help you determine the right material for your project.

Is Steel or Aluminium Better for Hot Temperatures?

Generally speaking, steel tends to be a better option for hot temperatures. This is mainly thanks to its high melting point – steel melts at around 1,370°C to 1,510°C, whereas aluminium melts at about 660°C.

The higher melting point of steel is due to factors like its greater atomic mass, strong metallic bonding, and more complex crystal structure. As a result, steel is commonly used in furnaces and engines in industries such as defence, oil, and gas.

However, there’s one reason you may want to choose aluminium over steel in hot conditions: aluminium has much higher thermal conductivity. This means it transfers heat more efficiently, which can be useful in situations where effective heat dissipation is key.

Is Steel or Aluminium Better for Cold Temperatures?

If your structure is going to face more cold than heat, it’s generally a good idea to go with aluminium instead of steel. This is because aluminium doesn’t get as brittle as steel in lower temperatures, making it much longer lasting. In fact, aluminium even becomes stronger in the cold – a phenomenon known as “cold working” or “cold deformation.” This occurs because of changes in the crystal structure, reduced thermal activation of atoms, and a more refined grain structure.

Aluminium’s cold resistance makes it a great choice for industries that are commonly working in low temperatures, such as the aerospace and marine sectors.

First-Rate Steel and Aluminium Components, Custom-Cut for Your Project

Looking to source metal for your next project? MG Metals have all the high-quality components you could possibly need, all custom cut to match your exact specifications!

We offer a wide selection of metals, including:

Whether you’re in need of a steel sheet or a brass bar, we’re here to deliver it to your location, exactly when you need it.

Not sure which metal is the best fit for your project? No worries. Our metal specialists have supplied steel and aluminium for projects of all sizes, from small-scale structures to massive multi-site builds, and are more than happy to provide advice on the best metal for your specific job.

If you’re ready to get started, you can get a quote online or call us on 01794 521070 today. We’re looking forward to working with you!