Comparing Steel and Aluminum Tool Parts

By  |  0 Comments

Getting any kind of startup off the ground requires luck, determination and a lot of upfront costs. A startup that requires expensive and specific tools to get started can seem even more daunting. Which is why, when ordering parts for specific and complicated machinery, a common practice is to order prototypes, or cheap molds of specific parts made to order, in order to test them out. When doing this, the most important decision is what material to use: aluminum or steel.

Steel and Aluminum Tool Parts

When to Choose Aluminum

The obvious advantage of molding your tools out of aluminum is that they would be cheaper and faster to produce. This would allow you to produce prototype parts for testing or other tool parts very quickly and cheaply. When starting out, and especially with tools that won’t be frequently used, this is enough of an advantage to justify using aluminum instead of a sturdier material like P20 steel. Unfortunately, aluminum does not hold up as well to things like heat, extended use or changes in temperature. This means that frequently used parts will wear down easier and need to be replaced. If you use aluminum to make these parts you will be spending more money on replacement parts in the long run.

When to Choose Steel

The main alternative to aluminum is to use steel when molding new tools. P20 is the type of steel most commonly used in the industry and is harder and more heat resistant than aluminum. It is more expensive but can hold up to more wear and tear over time, saving you money in the long run. The cost of molding parts out of steel and aluminum are close enough that steel becomes the better option if you know the part you need will be used frequently. However, steel requires more maintenance to ensure that it is holding up. If your tools will only be run once every few months or so, then the steel could rust.

When prototyping P20 steel and aluminum are your most common options when choosing material for your molds. Aluminum is cheaper and does not rust; this may be best for tools that will be used less frequently or that can be replaced easily. Steel is a costlier but more reliable option, but may not suit your needs. Smaller setups that are run less frequently won’t be able to take advantage of the durability that steel offers.