Choose Aluminum

Aluminum is one of the world’s most abundant metals and is therefore very cost-efficient. High strength-to-weight ratio combined with extraordinary corrosion resistance and flexibility make aluminum a desirable solution for  product design. Aluminum is cost efficient and meets the production needs for a variety of uses.

 

ALUMINUM
EXTRUSIONS

ROLL FORMED
STEEL

COPPER
EXTRUSIONS

MOLDED
PLASTIC

WOOD

VINYL

Strength (Tensile) Very good mechanical properties. Very high mechanical properties. Average to low mechanical properties. Wide variation in properties from .08 to .8 tensile strength of aluminum extrusions for glass filled compounds. Good compressive properties; variable with the species of wood and moisture content. Low mechanical properties.
Density Lightweight: about 1/3 that of copper or steel. High density; high pounds per cubic foot. About three times heavier than aluminum. Very lightweight; about 60% the weight of aluminum. Very lightweight; about 1/3 the density of aluminum. Very lightweight; about 60% the density of aluminum.
Strength-to-Weight Ratio Very Good. Good. Low. Low-good.  Low-good. Low-good.
Corrosion Resistance Excellent; it can be further increased, along with enhanced appearance, through anodizing or other coatings.  Poor; usually requires protective coatings for corrosion service. Excellent.  Excellent; choice of compound and color important for weatherability (UV). Not directly applicable; decomposes in the presence of some acids. Excellent; high resistance to alkalis and salts but is attacked by organic solvents and strong acids.
Formability Easily formable and extruded in a wide variety of complex shapes including multi-void hollows. Formable to net shapes, and extrusions provide for the placement of metal where it's needed.  Readily formable; thinner cross-sections than aluminum extrusions; metal cannot always be located where best used in design. Excellent formability and easily extrudable. Formable to net shapes.  Easily formed or molded into complex shapes. Poor; cannot be routinely formed.  Easily formed or molded into complex shapes.
Electrical Conductivity Excellent; on a pound for pound basis, twice as efficient as copper, used in bus and electric connector applications.  Poor; cannot usually be used as an electrical conductor. Excellent thermal conductivity. Poor; used as an insulator, high dielectric capability.  Poor; cannot be used as an electrical conductor. Usually cannot be employed as an insulator. Poor; electrical and thermal insulating characteristics.
Thermal Conductivity Excellent; ideal for heat exchanger applications. Poor; cannot usually be used as a heat exchanger. Excellent thermal conductivity; second only to silver in industrial applications. Poor; low coefficient of thermal (heat) transfer. Poor.  Poor.
Finishing A near limitless array of finishes can be applied including mechanical and chemical prefinishes, anodic coatings, paints and electroplated finishes.  Protective coatings such as paint finishes are employed along with electroplated finishes. A variety of coatings and platings can be employed.  Color can be integral with material as well as plated, painted, and hot stamped. Paint and stain coatings can be employed. Color can be integral with material. 
Recyclability High scrap value; routinely reprocessed to generate new extrusions.  Low scrap value. Very high scrap value. Routinely reprocessed but loses properties; reprocessed material is added to new stock.  Low scrap value. Low scrap value; routinely reprocessed.
Tooling Economics Extrusion tooling is relatively inexpensive. Generaly, a simple shape will cost only a few hundred dollars. Short lead times for tooling construction. Typical tooling cost are thousands of dollars. Long lead times are required. Inexpensive tooling costs for extrusions.  Tooling is expensive; generally in the thousands of dollars. Long lead times required. Very inexpensive.  Relatively inexpensive.
Energy Savings Lightwight aluminum extrusions can offer energy savings for transportation vehicles.  Life time energy requirements for wrought steel vehicle components are twice those for aluminum components.  In transportation vehicles, copper is less energy-efficient than aluminum. Savings for vehicles, processing, insulation.  In certain applications. Can offer energy savings in appropriate transportation applications.
Combustibibility Non-combustible; does not emit any toxic fumes when exposed to high temperatures.  Non-combustible; does not emit any toxic fumes when exposed to high temperatures.  Non-combustible; does not emit toxic fumes when exposed to high temperatures. Combustible; may emit toxic fumes when exposed to high temperatures.  Combustible; emits toxic fumes while burning.  Combustible. May emit toxic fumes when exposed to high temperatures.