Material selection: Switching up the status quo
June 26, 2018

In our first guide to material selection, we discussed the metals we use and their properties.
But what about swapping out one material for another?

Why choose aluminum over steel or other ferrous metals?

The most obvious benefit to aluminum over other alloys is that it’s much lighter than any ferrous metals. Aluminum is approximately a third of the weight of a steel alloy, which allows designers the flexibility to design parts and assemblies at a lower weight compared to steel or other metals.
This is important where the end-product has a maximum weight specification, but needs more weight in specific locations to enhance performance or safety. The lighter weight of aluminum allows the designer the flexibility of using heavier components where needed, without impacting the overall maximum weight requirements.


Aluminum’s other benefits include:

Corrosion resistance. Being a non-ferrous metal, when aluminum corrodes, it creates a light powdery coating that does not eat through the part like the typical ‘rust’ on a ferrous metal.
Its machinability is better than other metals. Because aluminum is inherently softer than other metals, machining cycle times are much faster and don’t wear out cutting tools as quickly. This reduces the cycle time needed, making parts more economical to machine.
Thermal conductivity. Aluminum has a much better thermal conductivity (conductor of heat) than ferrous metals. This is one of the main reasons it is used for car radiators and air conditioning units.
Electrical conductivity. Aluminum is a very good conductor of electricity. Due to its high conductance, light weight, and corrosion resistance, high-voltage overhead power lines are generally made of aluminum.


Our in-house alloys
We have several commonly-used alloys in our facility:

356.1 and A356.2 General Purpose Aluminum
These two are commonly used in a wide variety of products. The 356.1 is made from recycled product, while A356.2 is non-recycled aluminum, often referred to as virgin material.
413.1 High Fluidity Aluminum
A recycled aluminum that is frequently used on highly aesthetic and thin-walled castings.
ZA-12 Wear-Resistant Zinc Alloy
Zinc is a strong material, most commonly used for our customers who are seeking out a high level of wear- or corrosion-resistance.
If you’re uncertain about what type of material to use, the experts at Custom Castings are here to help. We have the resources to guide you to the best possible decision.
319.1 Legacy Grade Aluminum
One of our lesser-used alloys, its use is driven by the customer.
Categories: Knowledge