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Stainless Steel vs Mild Steel

Published: 15/01/2019

When making large batches of components it would be hard to argue that making the part out of steel with zinc plating wouldn’t be cheaper than making it out of stainless steel.

However, in lower quantities, the stainless steel version could be the most cost-effective option.

303 Stainless Steel 20mm Diameter
£8.10 per metre

Mild Steel 080A15 20mm Diameter
£3.45 per metre

(Price’s correct at time of publishing. Material costs will vary over time.)

If a turned component was 10mm long, allowing for parting off and holding you would get approximately 70 parts per metre. 

That is a material cost of 11.6p each for the stainless steel and 4.9p each for the steel. This gives you just 6.7p each to zinc plate, or just £4.69 for a batch of 70. 

Here is an example:

  Material Cost (Each) Plating Cost (Each) Quantity Machining Cost (Each) Total Cost
Stainless Steel 11.6p N/A 70 £1.00 £78.12
Mild Steel with Zinc Plating 4.9p 30p 70 £1.00 £94.43


If you are ordering in low quantity, there could be a minimum order charge for plating. Also, by using stainless steel you will take advantage of reduced lead time as it doesn’t require the zinc plating process.

To see if we could cut your manufacturing costs whilst still delivering on quality, contact us today.