+1 718 303 2335
+7 800 500-60-04

Uses of Aluminum

Uses of aluminum

The uses of aluminum are omnipresent and universal. It is the second most used metal after iron and the most abundant metal in the Earth's crust. Though it’s never found by itself in its pure form and has to be extracted through a rather complex process, it can be found in almost all industries.

Items made of aluminum are everywhere. Throughout our history, humans have produced an enormous amount of aluminum, and about 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use.

List of Possibilities with Aluminum Usage

What is aluminum used for? Listing all the kinds of its application in detail is nearly impossible. Buildings, boats, airplanes, cars, home appliances, packaging, computers, mobile phones - they all benefit from aluminum's superior properties in design, durability, corrosion resistance, and lightweight strength.

Aluminum is a highly demanded material, and here is a list of the most common ways it is applied.
  • Architecture and Construction

The strength-to-weight ratio makes it particularly useful as a structural material that weighs up to 65% less than steel. The usage of aluminum as a construction material is an important part of contemporary architectural styles. Lightweight aluminum alloys are often applied to hold the weight of facade glass. Due to its flexible and malleable nature when properly combined with other components, aluminum is used for supporting architectural structures. 

The sustainable future of construction is inconceivable without aluminum. Aluminum products made of alloys resistant to atmospheric influences, corrosion, and harmful effects of UV rays are used in extreme conditions. Its ability to reflect up to 95% of sunlight contributes to cooling "green" buildings and increasing energy efficiency.

Indeed, modern skyscrapers are seldom built without aluminum. The unique properties and qualities of aluminum, including the numerous aluminum alloys, challenge the imagination of designers, architects, and engineers to create new styles. 
  • Transport

All types of land, sea or air transport use it to some extent, not only as external material but also as part of mechanical components. The best example of its use in the transportation industry is aircraft, where aluminum is preferred due to its relatively low cost and weight.

Compared to steel, aluminum can reduce the weight of a vehicle by 40% without compromising strength. Transport requires less energy when lightweight materials are used. Therefore, lightweight aluminum helps to increase fuel efficiency in a wide range of vehicles - from cars to armored tanks. Indeed, the use of aluminum in road vehicles offsets more than 90% of all greenhouse gas emissions associated with aluminum production in North America.
  • Kitchenware

Perhaps the largest of the daily uses for aluminum is in food preparation and preservation. After stainless steel, it is the most used material for the manufacture of knives, containers, pots, and other kitchen utensils. It is also heat-resistant, which is why it is usually put in an oven as part of food preparation.

Aluminum foils are made of extremely thin sheets (even less than 0.01 millimeters thick) that are used to wrap almost any dish due to their malleability.
  • Packaging

Most food and beverage cans are made of aluminum. Sauces, gravy, beer, juices, fish, vegetables, and sausages come in aluminum packaging. Add to this that an estimated one-third of all food in Europe is wasted, which raises the importance of efficient preservation of food and drinks, for example by using aluminum.

Packaging is not limited to food, virtually any material can be stored in aluminum containers for easy transportation; be it glue, paint, or insecticide.
  • Electricity

Despite not being the best conductor of electricity, aluminum has several advantages over other materials such as silver, gold, and copper. The advantages of aluminum, once again, are mainly low cost and weight. It also has high corrosion resistance and is easy to weld, making electrical installations more durable and easier to repair.

Aluminum is widely used in high voltage towers, where power lines must be light, flexible, and as economical as possible.
  • Household Devices

Aluminum has become a powerful material in the manufacture of household appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, washing machines, and ovens.

The reason why the utilization of aluminum is so popular in this field is that this material is heat resistant, durable, and very lightweight. Moreover, aesthetic trends greatly favor designs made with aluminum.
  • Computer Components

Some components such as processor cooling radiators or graphics cards have aluminum as the main element.

In the case of radiators, the thermal and corrosive resistance of aluminum alloys make them material the best fit to keep computers in good thermal condition.

  • Furniture

Aluminum components can be found in furniture whose main material is wood, glass, or some other non-metal. Plaques, office desks, doors, park benches, leather chairs, etc. Many of them are made with aluminum.
  • Jewelry

Multiple jewelry products are made of aluminum due to its exceptional moldability. Being a cheap and malleable metal, aluminum makes jewelry more affordable.
  • Lithography

In industrial uses, lithography is the one that especially depends on aluminum, engaging it in practically all of its needs. The lithium sheets, with which plates are made, are made with an aluminum base. Most lithography plates are made of grained aluminum, usually anodized and then silicated.

  • Solar Power

Aluminum is playing a major role in solar power systems. One of the latest innovative applications of aluminum is photovoltaic devices that convert light into electricity. These devices can be integrated directly into a building's electrical network. The most modern photovoltaic systems can be integrated directly into the aluminum facade. The integration of renewable energy devices in the buildings of densely populated urban areas is a critical solution for achieving zero energy waste.

Impact of Aluminum Usage on World Economies 

According to economic analysts, aluminum is one of the few raw materials that affects every person. Aluminum is the metal that has the strongest economic impact on the United States, the industry directly employs over 166,000 workers and indirectly supports 494,000 workers. It generates over $70 billion in economic output directly, plus it brings forth $102 billion in economic output (data taken from the American Aluminum Association).

Aluminum is currently the second most widely used metal in the world, beginning to be commercially produced in 1886. In 1900, the yearly production of aluminum was only 6,800 metric tons, but by 2015 the yearly production already reached 58,500,000 metric tons.

Uses of 6xxx Series Alloys

Alloys of the 6xxx series contain silicon and magnesium as alloying elements. In general, the weldability, corrosion resistance, machinability, anodizability, the electrical and thermal conductivity of these alloys are good. Applications include electrical conductors, bicycle frames, bridges, railway carriages, masts for sailing ships, and extrusion profiles. BK-ALPROF manufactures products - beams, tubes, T-bars, angles, etc from high-quality EN AW-6060 and EN AW-6063 alloys, coated with a protective oxide layer. These two alloys are especially suitable for decorative anodizing and are praised for high corrosion resistance and extrudability.

Conclusion: Uses of Aluminum are Ubiquitous

As a lightweight, recyclable, and very versatile material, aluminum uses are almost endless. This metal plays a major role in everyday life. The strength of pure aluminum is insufficient in many cases, so combinations with other elements such as copper, iron, zinc, or silicon are broadly applied to increase hardness and other properties.

Aluminum extraction is a very expensive and energy-consuming process. However, the downsides are offset by aluminum’s high strength, low weight, good conduction of electricity and heat, corrosion resistance, and ease of casting, which, in the long run, makes it more economical than other metals.

Strong, lightweight, and recyclable, aluminum is material unique in meeting the needs and challenges of the 21st century.