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Difference Betwee Steel and Aluminum

Steel vs Aluminum

Unless you are well versed in the language of metals and their usage, you probably won’t think much about the difference between steel and aluminum. As a matter of fact, the first thing that pops into a person’s head when faced with this question is ‘Is there any difference at all?’ Well, there most certainly is. To provide you with a more comprehensive answer, let’s define each of them separately.

Aluminum is a low density metal that is often used because of its innate ability to resist all sorts of corrosion. It is often used in the construction of buildings, transport vehicles as well as in the aerospace industry where many structural components have aluminum and its alloys as bases. It is lightweight, soft yet durable, malleable and ductile. Its appearance can range from something silvery to those that carry a duller gray tinge to it. This depends upon the roughness of its surface.

Steel on the other hand is an alloy which is primarily made up of carbon and iron. Whilst carbon may be the most common alloying material used for iron, there are also a variety of other elements that can be used. This includes chromium, manganese, tungsten and vanadium. Basically, carbon is added as a type of hardening agent which subsequently prevents any dislocations within the iron atom crystal lattice from separating and sliding past each other. Much like aluminum, it is also used in various construction purposes such as in the creation of tools, machines, automobiles, weapons as well as ships.

As mentioned above, both metals are often used for building all sorts of transportation. The most common of which would be the bicycle. So, how does steel compare to aluminum on this aspect? Well, most professionals would tell you that steel is the best choice. But of course, this depends upon the quality. Cheap steel can be found in various mass market stores and these are certainly not as good as higher grade ones. Most folks also like the ‘feel of steel’ which is often described as a sense of durability and stability when one is riding the bike.

Aluminum, however, is favored by other rides because of the fact that it is very lightweight. It is about ½ the weight of steel. It might have the advantage of being lightweight but when it comes to strength, it only has about 1/3 of steel’s strength. Needless to say, in order to make it as strong as steel, more materials would be needed which often results in stiffer rides. But then again, the choice still depends upon the particular rider’s preferences. After all, each rider would have different priorities. With that said, it is always good to know the differences between the options available.

Now that you are well aware of the difference between steel and aluminum, it’s time you learnt of a way to tell them apart. Yes, at first glance the two may not seem all that different but there is one simple test that should show you which one’s steel and which is aluminum. This is what’s referred to as the magnet test. Basically, aluminum in all its various forms is not magnetic. Steel, on the other hand, is magnetic. However, there are types of it that aren’t. The difference lies in that particular type of steel’s microstructure. Nonetheless, this is still a very good way of determining which is which. Besides this, you may also compare their weight. Remember, aluminum is much lighter than steel. Simply looking at them might not tell you much because they can also be quite similar in appearance depending on how they were polished.

Steel and Aluminum are both commonly used in construction as well as building transportation such as bikes and automobiles.
Steel is much stronger than aluminum.
Aluminum is significantly lighter than steel.

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