Key Factors in Choosing the Right Metal for Your Project
The metal processing industry uses a variety of materials and processes to create reliable, high-performance products for various applications. But the best metal depends on the specific application and the unique requirements and specifications of the final product.
In this guide, our experts at Meta Fab, Inc. want to help you choose the best metal for the job by detailing specific factors for your consideration. Below, we show you what to look for in the selection process, as well as key features that affect your workload.
Selecting the Right Metal for Metal Fabrication
Before selecting materials for your manufacturing process, take the time to carefully consider the specific application requirements and environmental issues that your product may face. Also, consider material properties, such as machinability, weldability, and more.
Machinability refers to how easy it is to cut (machine) a specific metal type. The easier it is to cut metal, the less cost there is in your project. However, you also want to make sure that cutting your metal of choice produces satisfactory results.
Steel offers some of the easiest machinability. At the other end of the discussion, stainless steel features some of the hardest machinability. As such, you can expect to need advanced cutting components to complete the metal’s cutting process with favorable results.
As its name suggests, weldability refers to the metal’s natural ability to weld to similar metals and materials. There are multiple types of metal that you can weld together, allowing you to achieve the desired final outcome in your project.
Therefore, you should ask yourself how easy is it to weld the metal that you’re considering for use in your project. Essentially, does the metal require a lot of prep to get it to where you can weld it?
Moreover, will it require advanced tools and welding techniques? If so, you’ll need to factor in the additional costs that go into doing so. If you want the easiest metal to weld, steel is your best option.
Next up is ductility, which has to do with a metal’s ability to take other shapes (deformation) without fracturing. Any metal that is capable of being pressed and formed without suffering fractures is considered ductile.
Virtually all metals are ductile with the right amount of heat application. And herein lies the potential concern. If you need an extraordinary amount of heat to complete this part of the metal’s fabrication, you can expect additional costs and equipment.
If you are operating on a tight budget, you may want to opt for a metal that requires minimal heat to form and press, such as aluminum.
Spend any amount of time around metal, and you’ll know that it tends to corrode over time and under the right circumstances. It lends to reason, then, that corrosion resistance refers to what end a metal can resist corrosion.
Oxidation and exposure to chemicals lead to corrosion. Therefore, if your project’s end result puts it in the company of such exposure, you need to consider a type of metal that withstands corrosion better than others.
Tensile strength is the maximum stress or tension that a metal type can withstand before it becomes permanently damaged and fails. Basically, tensile strength refers to a metal’s measure of how much stress it can withstand.
Moreover, tensile strength serves as a good standard for measuring the stability of metals. And once you know what to expect from various types of metal in this regard, it will be a lot easier for you to choose the right metal for your project.
For comparison, aluminum has some of the weakest tensile strength of all metals. Stainless steel, on the other hand, has some of the best.
Is your metal of choice versatile enough to work with other materials if your project calls for it? Obviously, you don’t want to choose a type of metal that will cause you problems during the fabrication of your project.
A project that is strictly made of the metal you’re choosing is a different story. Clearly, you don’t have to worry about such interactions with other materials. But if you’re building, say, a house, it’s important that you go with a metal that’s long-lasting, durable, easy to work with, and versatile.
Depending on the project, you may need the most expensive metal — one that features high resistance to corrosion and optimal tensile strength, for example. But if you’re fabricating something simple and less essential, you may be able to get away with using a cheaper metal.
Most Common Metals Used in Fabrication
As we noted above, there are various types of metals to consider in your project, from aluminum to stainless steel and more. Below, we briefly discuss the most common metals you’re likely to come across in your quest for the right material.
Steel is made of carbon and iron. Carbon is the main alloy material, and its content determines the steel’s tensile strength and hardness. Steel is widely used in weaponry, machinery, and construction.
What’s more, steel types consist of stainless steel and carbon steel, each of which has its own uses in various industries.
Copper is known for its electrical conductivity, ductility, and corrosion resistance. As such, this metal’s use is common in industrial and marine environments.
This metal is ideal for applications involving low temperatures, like refrigerators. Aluminum is light and durable, yet it does not work well at temperatures above 392°F (200°C).
Magnesium is a type of metal that is known for its low density. This makes it a popular choice among vehicle parts and aircraft manufacturing.
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Do you need expert assistance with your project? At Meta Fab, Inc., we specialize in a number of professional services centered on metal fabrication in Hillsboro, Oregon. Whether you need help in the beginning stages of your project or in the final assembly or delivery, you can count on our experts to help you bring your project to life.