Aluminum is the third most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust, and the third most abundant element overall.
No other metal can compare to Aluminum when it comes to its variety of uses. Some uses of aluminum may not be immediately obvious; for example, did you know aluminum is used in the manufacturing of glass?
Aluminum is incredibly popular because it is:
- Resistant to corrosion
Aluminum is also theoretically 100% recyclable with no loss of its natural properties. It also takes 5% of the energy to recycle scrap aluminum then what is used to produce new aluminum.
The most common uses of aluminum
The most common uses of aluminum include transportation, construction, electrical and consumer goods.
Aluminum is used in transportation because of its unbeatable strength to weight ratio. Its lighter weight means that less force is required to move the vehicle, leading to greater fuel efficiency. Although aluminum is not the strongest metal, alloying it with other metals helps to increase its strength. Its corrosion resistance is an added bonus, eliminating the need for heavy and expensive anti-corrosion coatings.
While the auto industry still relies heavily on steel, the drive to increase fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions has led to a much wider use of aluminum. Experts predict that the average aluminum content in a car will increase by 60% by 2025.
High-speed rail systems like the Shinkansen in Japan and the Maglev in Shanghai also use aluminum. The metal allows designers to reduce the weight of the trains, cutting down on friction resistance.
Aluminum is also known as the ‘winged metal’ because it is ideal for aircraft; again, due to being light, strong and flexible. In fact, aluminum was used in the frames of Zeppelin airships before airplanes had even been invented. Today, modern aircraft use aluminum alloys throughout, from the fuselage to the cockpit instruments. Even spacecraft, such as space shuttles, contain 50% to 90% of aluminum alloys in their parts.
Buildings made with aluminum are virtually maintenance free due to aluminum’s resistance to corrosion. Aluminum is also thermally efficient, which keeps homes warm in winter and cool in summer. Add the fact that aluminum has a pleasing finish and can be curved, cut and welded to any desired shape, it allows modern architects unlimited freedom to create buildings that would be impossible to make from wood, plastic, or steel.
The first building in which aluminum was widely used was the Empire State Building in New York, built in 1931. Today, aluminum is regularly used in the construction of high-rise buildings and bridges. The lighter weight of aluminum makes it easier, faster and more convenient to work with. It also helps reduce other costs. A building constructed of steel would require much deeper foundations due to the added weight, which would drive up construction costs.
Notable modern buildings made from aluminum include the Bank of China headquarters in Hong Kong and Zaha Hadid’s London Aquatics Centre in London.
Although it has just 63% of the electrical conductivity of copper, aluminum’s low density makes it the best option for long distance power lines. If copper was used, support structures would be heavier, more numerous, and more expensive. Aluminum is also more ductile than copper, enabling it to be formed into wires much more easily. Lastly, its corrosion-resistance helps protect wires from the elements.
In addition to power lines and cables, aluminum is used in motors, appliances, and power systems. Television antennae and satellite dishes, even some LED bulbs are made of aluminum.
Aluminum’s appearance is the reason it is used frequently in consumer goods.
Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and flat screen TVs are being made with an increasing amount of aluminum. Its appearance makes modern tech gadgets look sleek and sophisticated while being light and durable. It is the perfect combination of form and function which is critical for consumer products. More and more, aluminum is replacing plastic and steel components, as it is stronger and tougher than plastic and lighter than steel. It also allows heat to dissipate quickly, keeping electronic devices from overheating.
Apple uses predominantly aluminum parts in its iPhones and MacBooks. Other hi-end electronics brands like audio manufacturer Bang & Olufsen also heavily favor aluminum.
Interior designers enjoy using aluminum as it’s easy to shape and looks great. Furniture items made from aluminum include tables, chairs, lamps, picture frames and decorative panels.
Of course, the foil in your kitchen is aluminum, as well as pots and frying pans which are frequently made from aluminum. These Aluminum products conduct heat well, are non-toxic, resistant to rust, and are easy to clean.
Aluminum cans are used to package food and beverages. Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been using aluminum cans since 1967.
Metal Supermarkets is the world’s largest small-quantity metal supplier with over 80 brick-and-mortar stores across the US, Canada, and United Kingdom. We are metal experts and have been providing quality customer service and products since 1985.
At Metal Supermarkets, we supply a wide range of metals for a variety of applications. Our stock includes: stainless steel, alloy steel, galvanized steel, tool steel, aluminum, brass, bronze and copper.
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