Aluminum is a light weight, silver-colored metal that can be formed into almost any shape. It can be rolled into thick plates for armored tanks or into thin foil for wrappers. It may be drawn into wire or made into cans. Aluminum is the third most abundant element in the earth’s crust after oxygen and silicon and is a comparatively new industrial metal that has been produced in commercial quantities for just over 100 years. Pure aluminum is soft and has little strength and small amounts of elements like copper, magnesium, zinc etc., are added to give strength. Other notable benefits are:
- Resistance to corrosion – a thin protective layer is formed when exposed
to the atmosphere and this prevents surface rust.
- Chemical resistance
- Easily machined
- High strength to weight ratio – weighs about one-third as much as copper
- Good electrical conductor
- Excellent conductor of heat
- Reflects heat and light
- Readily formed
- Can be drawn
eMachineShop allows you to design custom aluminum parts using: Bending … Blanking … Pressure Die Casting … Sand Casting … Counter boring … Counter sinking … Drawing … Drilling … Fine blanking … Honing … Knurling … Laser Cutting … Milling … Photochemical Milling … Plasma Cutting … Reaming … Band sawing … Shearing … Threading & Tapping … Turret Punching … Turning (lathe) … Waterjet Cutting … Welding and Wire EDM.
After iron and steel, aluminum is the most popular metal used for many applications including:
- Transportation: The combination of lightness, strength and malleability makes aluminum the ideal material for transportation applications. It is used in automobiles, airplanes, railways and marine applications and also for making fuel-efficient engines in cars and trucks. Its low weight reduces fuel consumption and emissions.
- Air travel: Strong aluminum alloys take the extreme pressures and stresses involved in high altitude flying. Wafer thin aluminum panels keep the cold out and the air in. Many internal fittings like the seating on airplanes are made from aluminum or aluminum composite in order to save weight and thus save fuel, reduce emissions and increase the aircraft’s payload.
- Vehicles: A high proportion of the shock inflicted by an automobile in a motor vehicle accident is absorbed primarily by its aluminum structure.
- Packaging and food processing: It is non-poisonous, which allows for non-acidic food to be safely wrapped in thin sheets like foil and cooked in vessels. Aluminum cookware is easy to lift, requires considerably less heat than stainless steel or cast iron and utensils heat up quickly and evenly.
- Construction: Aluminum facilitates the construction of corrosion-resistant and low maintenance cost buildings. All kinds of aluminum products are used for new construction as well as renovation and due to its strength and lightness, it is used in earthquake prone zones. It is also a good reflector of light,and is often used in lighting fixtures.
- Electrical transmission lines: This very versatile metal can be drawn into thin wires which are often used in products such as light bulbs and telephone wires. Most of the high voltage overhead transmission and distribution lines over long distances are also made of aluminum.
- Medical applications: Aluminum is hygienic and easy to sterilize, so it is preferred for many medical applications.
- Other applications: Also used in rocket fuel, paints, inks, knitting needles, refrigerators and electronic products.