What material should I choose for my project and why?
Mild Steel (H36 HR P&O Steel, P&O): This is a heavy, general purpose, bendable and laser grade material used for most general fabrication needs and suitable for automotive and structural applications. It is slightly slower to machine than aluminum and has a mid to high material cost. Mild Steel does not have any sort of corrosion resistance. It should be painted, powder coated or plated to prevent rust and oxidation.
Stainless Steel (303 & 304): Can be more expensive and harder to machine than mild steel and aluminum, but will provide some of the nicest finishes available. Project cost will vary largely depending on the size of the part(s) and processes involved.
Aluminum is a good light-weight, corrosion-resistant material. Aluminum can usually be machined at faster rates than steel. Mid-range material costs. Ideal for many aerospace and automotive applications where corrosion resistance and weight are large concerns. Aluminum can be anodized to give it further corrosion resistance as well as a unique and usually shiny colored appearance. Colors available are quite varied. Ask about associated costs and lead times when considering anodizing.
- 5052 Aluminum (for laser cut pieces): used with laser cutting jobs to prevent cracking in applications where parts will need to get bent or formed
- 6061 Aluminum: used in applications where complex bending or forming aren’t necessary
- 7075 Aluminum: used for lathe and mill work, slightly stronger and higher cost material than the other two aluminum grades