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Aluminized Steel vs. Stainless Steel

Instructor: Matthew Bergstresser

Matthew has a Master of Arts degree in Physics Education

Steel is a metallic alloy of iron and a few other elements. In this lesson, we will compare and contrast aluminized steel and stainless steel based on the elements in them and their properties.

Steel

It is a safe bet that you relied on steel today in some fashion. If you were in a vehicle, steel was used in the car's body and exhaust. If you live or work in a high rise building, steel makes up the building's structure. If you ate your meals with metallic utensils, you were holding steel! Steel is a metallic alloy of iron mixed with different amounts of carbon. In this lesson, we will go over two types of steel called aluminized steel an stainless steel.

Aluminized Steel

Can you guess what is mixed with iron to make aluminized steel? If you answered, ''aluminum'', you are correct! The most common method to make aluminized steel is to clean steel and then dip it in molten aluminum that contains a small percentage of silicon. When the aluminum-dipped steel is removed from the molten aluminum it is allowed to air dry. Three layers are created in this process. The innermost layer is the steel core. Outside of that is aluminum and the outermost layer is oxidized aluminum. This thin oxidized layer protects the inner layers from corrosion. Let's now focus of stainless steel.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is iron that contains a minimum of 10.5% chromium. There are other percentages of chromium used along with various percentages of nickel, molybdenum, titanium, silicon, manganese, nitrogen, carbon, and copper. All of the different combinations of these elements with iron results in over 50 varieties of stainless steel. The stainless steel with the highest percentage of chromium offers the most corrosion-resistant stainless steel. There are ten steps required to make stainless steel, which is a much more involved process than making aluminized steel. Now let's compare properties of aluminized steel and stainless steel.

Appearance

Stainless steel is very shiny and is used as a material for items where aesthetics are important such as moldings on cars and jewelry. You may have recognized stainless steel used in the construction of buildings. For instance, a glass door may have a stainless steel handle or windows might have stainless steel moldings. Aluminized steel does not shine as nicely as stainless steel.

Stainless steel watch
watch

Strength

Stainless steel is significantly stronger than aluminium steel, which is why stainless steel is used when ascetics and strength are required. Stainless steel is also more resistant to corrosion compared to aluminized steel. When the structure of an object is important it is imperative that not only the building material be strong, but corrosion resistant. It is possible that the aluminum layer in aluminized steel may peel off or flake off exposing the unprotected steel inside. This can lead to rust forming on the steel and ultimately possible failure.

Bike racks need to be strong and corrosion resistance since they are outside
bike_rack

Stainless steel is also commonly used to make kitchen sinks and surgical equipment due to its resistance to corrosion.

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