The material that you choose to use in the creation of your parts and products says a lot about the type of company or business that you run. Many manufacturers are choosing to use environmentally-friendly materials, such as aluminum, in the creation of the products in order to appease consumers and reduce costs for production. There are many advantages of using aluminum and most are directly related to the natural life cycle and properties of aluminum that make it such a popular choice. For a raw material that only makes up eight percent of the Earth’s crust, we have found more ways to use, re-use and keep re-using aluminum than any other material on the planet.
It All Starts With Bauxite
What in the world does bauxite have to do with aluminum? Well, bauxite is the primary base in the production of aluminum. Studies have estimated that there is enough bauxite present in the world to last us another 200 to 400 years. Of course this figure does not take into account the amazing rate of aluminum recycling that is done around the world. As the amount of recycling increases on a global level, the number of years that our current bauxite supply could potentially last continues to increase as well.
The biggest bauxite deposits on earth are found closely located to the equator in countries such as Brazil, Jamaica, Australia and Surinam. The main components found in bauxite are aluminum oxides, iron and silicon, which is formed when certain rocks that contain aluminum begin to decompose. The bauxite is immediately refined into what is known as alumina. This process typically happens very close in proximity to the actual mine where the bauxite was extracted from in the first place.
The alumina is then produced into aluminum through molten electrolysis. This process is usually done in countries that have a lot of electricity because a lot of it is required to achieve the desired results. It usually takes a double portion of bauxite to create a single portion of alumina and a double portion of alumina to create a single portion of aluminum. An example of this would be two pounds of bauxite for every pound of alumina and two pounds of alumina to produce one pound of aluminum. In metric measurements, two kilograms of bauxite for every kilogram of alumina and two kilograms of alumina for every kilogram of aluminum that is produced.
The Cost-Effectiveness of Aluminum
Even when it is produced directly from bauxite, the return on investment for the production of aluminum is very high. While raw materials used to create aluminum to be used in rod and bar aluminum or other types of standard aluminum extrusions requires very large amounts of energy to reduce the alumina to aluminum, the energy that is expended is recouped many times over through the reduction of weight in vehicles that require less fuel to operate, which is just one example of aluminum being used in one industry.
When it comes to recycling, aluminum really pays off. This is where the advantages of using aluminum become blatantly clear. Scrap aluminum is a very valuable resource that can be recycled an unlimited number of times. All scrapped aluminum can be recycled and turned into new custom or standard aluminum extrusions because of the innate properties of aluminum that allow it to retain its strength regardless of the number of times it is recycled. Recycled aluminum only requires a mere five percent of the original energy required to make aluminum from raw materials.
The Life Cycle of Aluminum
Because aluminum is so easy to recycle, so cost-effective in its production and, because consumers have been trained to recycle it frequently, aluminum has become the perfect environmentally-friendly material. During the meltdown process, very little aluminum is lost and increased awareness about recovery, sorting and separating the aluminum from other metals in scrap metal facilities has helped the volume of aluminum that is recycled effectively each year to increase. The more that we can keep using this awesome metal in the development of standard aluminum extrusions to create cylindrical, rod and bar aluminum parts and products, the more we will be able to take advantage of the inherent properties of aluminum.
To find out more about using aluminum materials to create products and parts for manufacturing or to place an order for custom or standard aluminum extrusions, call Silver City Aluminum in Taunton, MA at 508-542-7200 or use our handy contact form online to reach one of our design technicians. With all of the advantages of using aluminum in mind, many more manufacturers will be turning to this earth-friendly material to create their products.