What are Aluminum Beams?

Aluminum beam is an I-Beam formed from aluminum; it is typically used in applications that require strength but where weight is a significant consideration. Due to aluminum’s light weight, especially when compared to other structural beams (such as steel), the final product or structure’s weight is greatly reduced.

This type of beam also carries a significant advantage when it comes to corrosion resistance over steel structural beams.

There are two types of aluminum beam:

  • Aluminum Association
  • American Standard

What is the difference between these two beam types?

American Standard beams are I-Beams with more traditional tapering in the flanges and rounded edges. These beams, often referred to as Standard I-Beams, typically have narrow flanges.

Aluminum Association beam is an I-Beam with thicker flanges than Standard I-Beams and are straight rather than tapered.

How are aluminum beams made?

Aluminum beams are manufactured using extrusion, where metal billets are forced through a die to create the desired long shapes – this can be done heated or at room temperature, depending on the specific requirements.

After passing through the die, a worker will often anodize or temper the beam. Anodizing is a chemical application that ensures a strong, chemically bonded outer oxide layer is present to prevent corrosion; tempering is a heat treatment process that increases the beam’s strength.

Depending on the final use, you would cut to size or bolt, rivet or weld together the final lengths.

What are their applications?

Aluminum beams are structural beams designed to support themselves over a long span.

However, the most defining factor of an aluminum beam is its relatively low weight. For an aluminum beam to share the strength of a steel I-Beam, it would have to be much larger but weigh only half as much.

As such, an aluminum beam is best suited for applications that require materials with moderate strength and low weight.

The American Standard beam is typically used in the building and construction industry. Typical applications include structural components for commercial sites and residential homes such as rafters, awnings, trailers, overhead supports and walkways.

Aluminum Association beam products tend to be more versatile as the thicker, straight-edged flanges allow for easier connections and fitting. These can be used in structural components, but can also serve as the foundational material for frames, brackets, base plates and machine parts.

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