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Choosing The Right Metal For Your Project

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  • Metals, Corrosion, Steel, Fabrication, Welding
  • Posted date:
  • 01-09-2022
Choosing The Right Metal For Your Project

This article looks at your options when choosing the right metal for your project. Find out more about selecting the right metal for metal fabrication.

Key Factors in Choosing a Metal

Metals are an incredibly versatile building material suitable for numerous purposes. But choosing the right material for the job is an essential consideration, which can be difficult given the wide variety of metals and alloys, each with different functionality. 

When figuring out which metal will be best for you, first consider the needs of your particular project and compare these to the properties of different appropriate materials and metals.

Selecting the Right Material for Metal Fabrication

Alongside applying the metal in the project or manufacturing process you're undertaking, you also need to consider the environment and conditions your finished product will exist in. 

This will tell you what metal properties you need to have. But when it comes to metal properties, what do we mean? Here are a few examples and how they could affect your choice of metals.


Machinability means how easy a particular metal is to cut or machine. Essentially, the easier a metal is to machine, the less time it will take up during your metal project. 

But, naturally, you want the metal to hold its shape after being cut. For example, steel is very easy in terms of machinability, while stainless steel is one of the hardest metals to cut. 

Therefore, if you want a seamless machining process, you will need advanced cutting equipment to get the most out of your metal.


Weldability refers to how well types of metal weld to similar metals. 

Of course, there are ways to weld any two metals together, but some metals work best together, so it all depends on your project goals. You need to figure out how easy you want your welding job to be in terms of your project and time constraints. 

If a metal requires a lot of work or preparation to be welded successfully, it might not be your best choice. You'll also need to consider your welding equipment and whether it suits the metal you want to use. Again, steel is one of the easiest metals to work with for welding.


Ductility is the ability of a metal to be turned into different shapes without breaking or fracturing into pieces. 

Generally speaking, almost all metals can be pressed or bent into other shapes without breaking and can therefore all be considered ductile. 

Of course, heating any metal will help it to become more ductile and easier to shape, so long as you have the right heating equipment. However, if you want an easier option, aluminium is the easiest metal to reshape without needing any specialist heating gear.

Corrosion Resistance

Avoiding corrosion is essential when working with metals, given how often metals tend to corrode and suffer from rust in many instances. 

Therefore, having a corrosion-resistant metal, to begin with will put your product in the best position to last for years to come. Two of the most common ways corrosion occurs are exposure to harsh chemicals and oxidation. 

So, since you can't really avoid oxygen, if your final product will be in the same environment as harsh chemicals, you need to pick a metal that offers high resistance to corrosion.

Tensile Strength

Tensile strength means the maximum amount of force or stress a particular type of metal can withstand before it breaks. 

While this tells you how much stress you can put the metal under, for example, if you are using it for structural purposes when building, it also tells you how stable the metal is. This is very handy to know, given that you will then know what to expect from the metals in your selection process. 

Two examples from either end of the scale include stainless steel and aluminium, with the latter being one of the weakest metals and the former being one of the strongest.


Versatility is also a very important thing to consider when choosing metals and other materials. 

Having a metal that works well with other metals and materials is incredibly useful in any fabrication project, with the opposite being nothing but a nuisance. If your project only requires you to work with metal, then versatility isn't too much of an issue. 

However, if you're going to be using lots of different materials together, then versatility can really make the difference when choosing a type of metal.


Cost is one of the more common considerations that people make when choosing a metal for their project. If you're making a metal component crucial to another part of your project, then you don't want to be frugal when choosing the right metal. 

Alternatively, if the piece you're making isn't as vital, or you're on a strict budget, you can probably get away with choosing a more cost-effective type.

Common Metals Used in Fabrication

Again, there is a wide variety of metals to choose from when working on a sheet metal fabrication project. While this may sound good, since you'll have plenty of metals to choose from, remember that each of them will have something to offer that other metals don't, and you will need to determine which elements of these different metals suit your needs best.

However, given that many metals exist in fabrication processes, to help narrow your search, we've listed here a few of the most common metals used in fabrication processes.


Steel offers a wealth of positive attributes and is possibly the favourite metal for fabricators. However, there are various steel types to choose from, including:

  • Stainless Steel - This form of steel has an incredibly high tensile strength and is very resistant to corrosion. This is possible due to the nickel and chromium mixed into the alloy. It can also take various finishing styles, opening your aesthetic material options. With high formability and ease of fabrication, stainless steel is incredibly popular.
  • Cold Rolled Steel - Like most types of steel, cold rolled steel is very strong and stiff. It's also much cheaper than other options, making it the perfect choice when fabricating general-purpose components or needing a reliable, cheap metal. While you can improve its corrosion resistance with a powder coating, cold rolled steel isn't suited to outdoor uses.
  • Galvanised Steel - This form is also known as "pre-plated steel", given that it is usually manufactured with a protective coating. This makes galvanised steel incredibly corrosion resistant. It is also highly ductile, making it perfect for reshaping.


Aluminium is one of the most malleable, low-weight, and corrosion-resistant metals. This makes it one of the better metals for reshaping into metal components or enclosures. Its strength-to-weight ratio makes it suitable for various uses; however, it is not as strong as steel. Therefore, if it's strength you need, you can use a thicker gauge of aluminium. It's also one of the easiest metals to apply a finish to, whether painting it, adding a chrome plate or a powder coating. There are two main alloys of aluminium: 5052 and 6061, both of which are easily machinable.


Copper is one of the most flexible and malleable metal choices and offers great thermal and electrical conductivity. It's also very corrosion resistant, given that it forms a protective oxide layer. Copper is also very aesthetically pleasing, but it tends to clinch to tools, given its softness.


Magnesium has a very low density, making it ductile and easy to work into new shapes. This makes it a popular choice for metal fabricators in certain industries where complex components with exact dimensions are needed through the design process, such as in aircraft and motor manufacturing or when producing medical instruments.

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