When it comes time to choose the material that you will use for the parts, pieces or products that you want to manufacture for your business, which metal will you choose? Second only to steel, aluminum is the most popular and widely used metal in the United States – and most likely, around the globe. There are so many different ways that aluminum can be used and there are so many different industries that rely on this metal to achieve their goals. From transportation to automotive, aerospace to skyscrapers, beverage containers to window frames, the uses and applications of custom and standard aluminum extrusions are limitless.
The Advantages of Using Aluminum
In order to understand why this metal is so widely used, it pays to take a look at some of the advantages of using aluminum. First off, it is very light when compared to other popular metals, such as iron or steel. In fact, the weight to strength ratio of aluminum is extremely low, making it an ideal choice for the automotive industry, which is trying to increase fuel mileage by lightening the payload of its vehicle designs. It also has excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, making it idea for many service industry uses. Aluminum will not rust if exposed to the air like steel, in fact, it creates an oxide layer to protect itself from exposure to moist air and other corrosive situations.
Raw aluminum – even in the billet form that is used for custom and standard aluminum extrusions – is very soft compared to other metals, making it ideal for extruding. The amount of pressure and pre-treatment required to extrude this metal into custom aluminum products is much less than what it would be for steel. The extrusion process strengthens the aluminum, making it more durable and able to be used in structural design. There are actually three primary methods used to strengthen aluminum, which includes mechanical methods, such as extrusion; solid solution strengthening and precipitation strengthening. Of all the methods used to strengthen aluminum, extrusion is by far the most cost-effective.
The Ways That Aluminum is Used
While we won’t be able to list all of the ways that custom aluminum products are used today in this article, it is helpful to go over a few of the most common applications that people see and use every day. In fact, many do not even realize just how frequently they use aluminum on an average day, nor do they realize all of the advantages of using aluminum and how it can be beneficial to their lives.
- AEROSPACE – The satellites that we use each and every day for communication and entertainment are built using custom and standard aluminum extrusions. The International Space Station was built using custom aluminum products to reduce the weight of the finished product and to provide superior service and long-lasting durability. Airplanes, space shuttles and other aerospace products are all made with aluminum.
- MEDICAL – When most people think about metals used by the medical industry, they think of stainless steel. However, aluminum is used all throughout the medical industry in the form of equipment, equipment stands, wheelchairs, crutches and other similar types of products. Painting aluminum products helps to provide them with texture and an aesthetic appeal that most patients and consumers appreciate. The advantages of using aluminum, including the low weight to strength ratio and natural anti-corrosion abilities, make it perfect for medical use.
- TRANSPORTATION – Another industry that is looking to reduce weight in order to increase fuel mileage is the transportation industry. Trucking manufacturers are always looking for ways to lower the overall weight of their vehicles, semi-trucks and utility vehicles that are always in high demand. The same holds true for public transportation, such as buses, trains and shuttles, all of which could lower the weight, cost and gas consumption for their vehicles through the use of custom aluminum products.
- AUTOMOTIVE – Similar to the transportation industries, the automotive industry benefits from the light weight, high strength and cost-effectiveness of this metal. Painting aluminum products – or finishing them with a powder-coating or anodized finish – enhances the look and feel of the metal, as well as boosts the anti-corrosion properties of this popular metal.
- MARINE – For many, many years, the marine industry has counted on aluminum for railings, decks, hardware, accessories and much more.
Contact Silver City Aluminum to find out more about our industry solutions. If you work in the automotive/trucking, marine or lighting industries, we can help you get an edge over your competition by assisting you in getting the custom products, parts and materials that you need in a much faster, shorter lead time than you will find anywhere else. Talk to our customer service agents or speak with one of our experienced technicians who specializes in these industry solutions to find out more. Call us today at 508-542-7200.