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High-Spec Metals for Small-Scale Manufacturing

Most business owners of small-scale manufacturing operations would love to use premium materials in all their products, but they have to consider costs, manufacturing timelines, material performance, and countless other factors. High-spec materials may be ideal, but small-scale manufacturers must balance the perfect choice with the practical one.

Products need to be affordable to manufacture, but they also need to be durable. Potential customers must see those products as high-quality and worthy of purchasing. They might base that decision on an attractive appearance, impressive product claims, or advanced materials.

It’s important to understand both the product requirements and the end user’s priorities as well as manufacturability when you choose materials for your product. Quality raw materials can be easier to process and create less scrap. You may save money in the long run by using more premium materials.

High-Spec Steel and Aluminum for Small-Scale Manufacturing

Steel and aluminum are the most common metals used in small-scale manufacturing, but sometimes you need something more advanced than the standard alloys. There is a steel or aluminum alloy for almost every application, whether you need strength, corrosion resistance, or improved machinability.

Below are some examples of high-spec grades of steel and aluminum used in small-scale manufacturing.



316 Stainless Steel

  • Superior corrosion resistance
  • Known as “marine grade” stainless steel for its resistance to saltwater corrosion
  • Standard for marine applications
  • Equipment in the chemical, paper, mining, food, medical, pharmaceutical, and petroleum industries

7075 Aluminum

  • Strongest commercial grade of aluminum
  • Good ductility, fatigue resistance, and corrosion resistance
  • High-stress structural applications
  • Rock climbing equipment, bicycle components, inline-skating frames, and hang glider airframes

Mic-6 Aluminum

  • Designed for dimensional stability, surface finish, and precision machining
  • Resists distortion during machining and temperature changes
  • Machining applications that require precise control of tolerances and dimensions
  • Measurement equipment

Other High-Spec Materials for Small-Scale Manufacturing

eyond steel and aluminum, there are other metals with high specifications for any application. These materials have advantageous properties like low weight, high strength, or resistance to temperature changes.

A few of these exotic metals and superalloys are detailed below.




  • Excellent strength-to-weight ratio
  • Resistant to heat, water, chemicals, and corrosion
  • Biocompatible
  • Mechanical components that require high strength with minimal weight
  • Jewelry, eyeglass frames, and implanted medical devices


  • Highly acid- and corrosion-resistant
  • Some alloys are ideal in extremely low-temperature applications
  • Oil and refinery operations
  • Some high-end musical instrument hardware like guitar strings and woodwind valves


  • Resistant to oxidation
  • Unlike most exotic nickel-based alloys, it is forgeable, cold workable, and weldable
  • Used in chemical processing applications
  • It’s becoming common in the geothermal and solar energy industries


  • Retains its dimensions despite temperature changes
  • Ideal for minimizing thermal expansion in variable temperatures
  • Electrical components, circuits, timepieces, and sensors


  • Heat- and corrosion-resistant
  • Can maintain its tensile strength in temperatures as high as 2,000°F
  • Jet engine exhaust systems, turbine blades, rotors, seals, and combustors that operate in extreme environments
  • Natural gas processing
  • Exhaust systems in high-performance vehicles in the auto industry


  • Corrosion-resistant, especially in seawater
  • Durable
  • Good electrical conductor
  • Marine engineering
  • Coinage
Science Fact: High-spec metals like titanium are so durable and corrosion-resistant that they’re used not only in spacecraft but also in hip replacements.

Understanding Metal Strength in High-Performance Materials

In the realm of high-performance metals and special metals, understanding metal strength is crucial, especially when dealing with extreme environments. Special metals like high-performance alloys offer varying levels of yield strength, tensile strength, and compressive strength, making them ideal for diverse applications. For instance, in extreme environments, high-performance materials need to maintain integrity under stress. Yield strength, a key property of these alloys, indicates the stress level a metal can withstand without permanent deformation. This is critical in production, where metal components are expected to endure without failing.

High performance metals, including various alloys, also exhibit significant tensile strength, essential for applications requiring metal to resist breaking under tension. Compressive strength is another vital trait of these special metals, showing how well they can withstand squashing forces. In processing high-performance materials, understanding these strengths ensures the right metal is chosen for the task. This knowledge is especially important in industries where high performance is non-negotiable, such as aerospace or automotive, where metals are subjected to intense conditions yet must perform reliably.

Common Metals and Finishes in High-Performance Manufacturing

In the manufacturing of high-performance materials, selecting the right metal and finish is key to ensuring both functionality and durability. High-performance metals like stainless steel, alloy steel, and aluminum are among the top choices in various industries. Each of these metals and alloys brings unique properties to the table. For instance, alloy steel, enhanced with different elements, is known for its strength and durability, making it suitable for high-performance scenarios.

In production, the finish applied to these metals is equally important. For high-performance applications, finishes like anodized, powder-coated, and galvanized are commonly used. An anodized finish, for instance, is particularly important for aluminum alloys, providing corrosion resistance and aesthetic appeal. This is essential in high-performance environments where metals must resist wear and tear over time.

Special metals like titanium and copper also play a significant role in high-performance manufacturing. Titanium, known for its strength-to-weight ratio, is ideal for aerospace and medical applications, while copper is indispensable in electrical applications due to its conductivity. The choice of metal and alloy, combined with the appropriate finish, ensures that the final product can withstand the rigors of high-performance applications, maintaining integrity and functionality in various environments.

Cost-Effective, Local Supply of High-Spec Materials

High-spec metals are in demand by small-scale manufacturing shops in the San Francisco Bay Area. However, it’s not always easy to find these metals at affordable prices, especially if you need a small quantity or a one-time purchase. Manufacturers can source these alloys at low costs through a local metal recycler and supplier specializing in verified metal remnants.

Industrial Metal Service specializes in the “ultimate recycling” of high-quality metal remnants. The recycled metals are verified using x-ray fluorescence technology to supply shops with the materials they need without sourcing expensive new metals directly from a mill. For more than two decades, we’ve built a reputation as a reliable local supplier of high-spec aluminum, steel, copper, titanium, and exotic alloys for small-scale manufacturing operations in the Bay Area.

Published by IMS Team

Industrial Metal Service has decades of experience and over 1.1 billion pounds of metal sold and recycled. Our founder, Jeff, has spent his life in the industry and prides himself on offering fair, efficient, trustworthy, knowledgeable, outstanding customer service. We offer metal salesmetal recycling pickup service, and other associated services, such as precise metal sawing, machinery teardown, and warehouse cleanupGive us a call and we’ll get it done.