Extruded Aluminum Cabinets:
Aluminum extruded cabinets are rust-resistant without the use of a primer or E-coating. In most applications, the strength of extruded aluminum is stronger than fabricated sheet metal. Extrusions have a more consistent geometry compared to fabricated sheet metal. Specific aesthetics and mechanical features are part of the extrusion and don’t require a secondary operation. These details can be intricate compared to fabricated sheet metal. Aluminum offers more strength per pound. Aluminum will strengthen in colder temperatures.
It is more costly, wasteful, and time-consuming to make a production change to an extruded part. A new tool will need to be created. The parts already extruded would be scrapped. The process starts over. There is more investment in tooling and a minimum amount of extrusion purchased compared to fabricated sheet metal. Structural aluminum is more expensive than steel and will require thicker material to make up for the strength difference.
Fabricated Aluminum Sheet Cabinets:
Aluminum sheets are rust-resistant without the use of primer or E-coating. Fabricated aluminum cabinets can be made in smaller quantities and are flexible with production changes. Aluminum is more flexible and elastic than steel. Because it is flexible, it is easier to design aesthetic details or intricate features. Not as intricate as extruded aluminum. Aluminum will strengthen in colder temperatures.
This is the weakest of the cabinet construction methods. Will require steel tubing and steel plates added for the structure to pass wind load speed requirements. There is less geometric consistency with fabricated parts and a higher reject rate.
Fabricated Steel Sheet Cabinets:
Fabricated steel cabinets can be made in smaller quantities and are flexible with production changes. Steel sheet metal fabrication is stronger than aluminum sheet metal. Steel sheet metal can provide enough structure to pass the highest wind load ratings in the United States without adding additional materials and cost. Typically, steel is pound-for-pound less expensive than aluminum.
Steel fabricated parts require the use of primer or E-coating to help prevent rust before painting. Steel will rust over time and compromise the structure if not taken care of. Touching up any exposed metal with paint is the only way to extend the life of steel. Weight density of steel is 2.5 times greater than aluminum. Much heavier for transportation compared to aluminum.