Anodized Aluminum or Stainless Steel for Printed Identification Parts

Stainless steel with Etching

With over two and a half decades in the business of printing industrial labels, name plates, fascia panels, and related products , there has always been this question thrown on us repeatedly, especially when a new part is being created or an alternative to an existing part is being considered.

On which one should we have our print, is it Anodized Aluminum or Stainless Steel and its thickness.   

How do you choose, what are the parameters, what could be the implications of choosing a wrong substrate, out here we have made an attempt to provide all the details we possibly can with our years of experience. We hope you can read, and this helps in making the right choice .

Most importantly we would like to let you know that yes we do print on both the substrates and are not inclined to lean towards either of the them.

Aluminum Digitally printed

The application of the part plays a key role in decision making, lets start with understanding where it is placed, is the part and the print exposed to harsh environments, physical risks of vandalism such as scratches, dents etc. does the environment contain abrasive chemicals , high moisture levels .

Lets note that high moisture levels do not trouble both Stainless Steel or Anodized Aluminum , both remain un harmed or simply do not corrode irrespective of moisture levels. 

However when it comes to vandalism , bends, dents , Stainless steel proves to be tougher when compared to Anodized Aluminum, if the application calls for a part which is not expected to bend and withstand bends and dents to a longer extent it would be stainless steel which stands out as a winner. 

If the part requires holes, cut outs and in specific shapes, Anodized Aluminum is the best option as its much easier to handle cut and finish. Anodized Aluminum is indeed the best choice considering its strength and light weight.  

How important is the print content, being able to read what’s printed after a couple of years outdoors indicates the quality of the part and in the turn the entire equipment / machinery. In terms of printing colors, graphics with long durability Anodized Aluminum stands way ahead of Stainless Steel, the printing into the anodic pore which is sealed beneath the surface gives long lasting durability . Printing colors and graphics is never a challenge and rather much easier a task when compared to printing on Stainless Steel.

Stainless Steel has a much tougher surface which makes printing a hard task , the printing can be achieved either by laser marking or chemical etching. While chemical etching is a process of a bygone era using harmful chemicals , the print also has limited durability and doesn’t hold up long when exposed to outdoor conditions. Laser marking however lasts longer however with no coloring. This works especially when the content is just a number and expected to last for ever.

Stainless steel With laser engraving

To make things hopefully a little more easier, lets look at 2 applications and mark out the advantages and disadvantages of both Anodized Aluminum and Stainless steel

  1. Name Plate or an Operator Console on a machine

  2. Asset Number Tag

Anodized Aluminum

Stainless Steel

Easy to print graphics with durability outdoors

Complex & time consuming to print , not very durable in outdoor conditions

Light and easy to cut, finish 

Heavy and need high end machinery to cut and finish

Cheaper

Expensive

Can bend or get dented lot easier if vandalized

Much stronger and harder to vandalize

Complex to Weld

Easy to weld 

Laser Markable 

Laser Markable 

Stainless steel with Etching

For a name plate , an operator console Anodized Aluminum would be a lot better choice considering the ease to print, finish and handle, however for an asset tag it appears laser marked Stainless Steel would be best suited considering a harder , tougher surface to withstand any vandalism , easy to weld which makes it quite impossible for anyone to remove. 

At Kinelectro Lines , with all the experience with customers from different market segments we clearly understand and believe that there is no blanket rule , one size is for the one measured, to each is their own as applications , operations etc., are all varied. 

 

By explaining and quoting examples our intention is to only help in your decision making, however do feel free to send us your questions , queries, we will do our best to understand , suggest, provide samples and more to ensure that you get the best parts for your equipment’s / machinery.

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