Steel or Aluminium – Which Is Right for You?
Within the industrial sector, items can be forged from a number of different materials. Each company will have a good explanation for favouring one material over the other, just as each client will have their own reason for having a material preference, as well. How a manufacturing company determines which material is better suited to your needs, is based on a number of factors including the layout and configuration of your workplace, atmospheric conditions that are common to your workplace, weight limit and personal budget, among others.
Both metals, steel and aluminium have their own unique set of benefits and drawbacks, making them ideal or less ideal for certain applications, which will be discussed here.
For the majority of the twentieth century, steel was the number one choice when it came to manufacture of industrial safety equipment such as mobile work platforms and other similar apparatuses. The reason for this was its unrivalled strength and durability; two essential qualities for any piece of equipment that is subjected to considerable use for long periods of time. Steel also has a very high resistance to bending, further adding to its desirable attributes. While aluminium is similarly durable to steel, for basic elements that need to support the weight of workers, such as steps, steel is the only option for structures that are tasked with supporting multiple tonnes.
Although steel has superior strength to aluminium, it also weighs more than two times as much. This extra weight gives it an enhanced ability to withstand the daily rigours of an industrial environment, but also makes structures that are made from steel more difficult to erect, configure and relocate around the workplace. If you require to have a steel-built device transported to an elevated position, you’ll certainly need more than an ordinary step ladder and may need to consider hiring a special crane to hoist it up there. Along with the cost of hiring the crane, there’s also various other expenses that may be incurred as well.
Unlike aluminium, designing more complicated steel-built structures is more difficult and requires more time. There’s also less margin for miscalculations. The additional build times coupled with less design flexibility can lead to increased expenses, which make aluminium a better choice. Despite its ability to support substantial weight and withstand the hardships of a busy industry workplace, steel is more susceptible to rusting, which if it takes hold, will quickly render the equipment unsafe and unusable in the workplace. To prevent unwanted rusting, all steel based equipment must be galvanised.
Although steel undoubtedly has a number of important advantages that are favourable to those operating in the industrial markets, many fabricators were still on the hunt for something different. Over time, aluminium established itself as an excellent choice for many purposes. Weighing less than half of what steel does, aluminium is far more portable, allowing personnel to quickly assemble, configure and transport it around the workplace. The reduced weight also means that it costs company less to deliver it to you, which in turn, allows you to save on delivery costs.
Aluminium is much easier to mould than steel, enabling fabricators to design elaborate structures that fit your precise size and shape requirements. Along with the added benefits of these attributes, aluminium also possesses comparable strength properties to steel. It may not be able to hold same tonnage of weight that steel can, but for work safety platforms, it’s often a more than capable solution.
Finally, aluminium has the advantage of being impervious to rusting, so there’s no chance of the structure’s strength and safety rapidly deteriorating before your very eyes. Its structural integrity won’t be compromised when exposed to rain, snow or salt air (a problem for work environments that are close to the ocean), among other atmospheric precipitation. For all these reasons listed here, aluminium is the most sensible option for all structures that merely need to support the weight of workers, such as platform ladders and mobile access platforms.
Ensure you select the correct work platform for your needs, by getting in touch with a specialised manufacturer of industrial safety equipment.
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