At first glance, the question doesn't really seem obvious - but on many occasions it can actually make sense to choose between steel and aluminum. Here you can find out what advantages and disadvantages both materials have when compared to one another, and when it makes sense to consider them.
Let's look at an example: chainrings for a bicycle. When it comes to durability, steel certainly seems to be more abrasion-resistant and harder, although aluminum can also be hardened. The weight advantage of aluminum (3: 1) probably only plays a role in extreme cases. Technically and theoretically, the advantage here is clearly on the side of steel.
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The practical experience of most professional cyclists is exactly the opposite. In practice, wear seems to be much higher on the steel ring than on the aluminum chainring. The experience is borne out by many.
Other advantages of aluminum
Aluminum is extremely stable, but weighs only a third compared to steel. It can also be hardened and is available in many high-strength alloys. In many areas, the strength values of hard alloys are sufficient for use.
Aluminum is naturally corrosion-resistant, protects itself and is also insensitive to temperature fluctuations. It is UV-resistant, hygienic and magnetically completely neutral. It is easy to shape, powder-coat or anodize.
Comparison between aluminum and steel
|durability||very high||very high|
|Malleability||generally very high||partially (depending on the type of steel)|
|Weight||very low||twice as high for workpieces|
|Processing options||practically all possible, hardenable surface||partially restricted (depending on the type of steel), hardenable surface|
|Weather resistance||very high||high for corresponding steels, otherwise low|
|corrosion||no||possible (also with stainless steel under certain circumstances)|
|resistant to temperature fluctuations||even more stable at low temperatures, less high temperature resistant||stable even at low temperatures, but with a higher melting point|
|Thermal conductivity||very good||mediocre|
|Hygiene and food safety||very good||very good|
|Aging||Insensitive to weathering, UV-resistant, completely corrosion-resistant||some varieties have good corrosion and acid-alkali resistance|
|ecology||high energy consumption in extraction, but 100% recyclable||Extraction less ecologically questionable|