Aluminum is a widely used metal, second only to steel. The extraction process of aluminum from bauxite ore requires a lot of energy, making aluminum more expensive than steel. Pure aluminum is soft. During production, aluminum is alloyed to improve its mechanical properties and formability. High-strength aluminum is used in technical applications in industries such as furniture, automotive, and aerospace.

Aluminum also possesses excellent surface properties. It has a smooth and non-toxic surface that does not allow air, water, or light to pass through, even when used as a thin protective layer. This makes aluminum highly suitable in the packaging industry to protect the contents, especially in the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical sectors. Aluminum is also an efficient thermal conductor, especially at low densities. While this is advantageous for food packaging, beverages, and cooking utensils, contact with aluminum can feel cold, which can reassure users that they are using a valuable metal material.

There are two main types: forged and cast. Although they share many similar characteristics, forged aluminum alloys are often used in the form of sheets and extrusions. Forged aluminum bottles are thinner and lighter, approximately 1/10th the weight of equivalent glass bottles. However, aluminum is still considered a premium product due to its high cost and limited manufacturing capability. The extrusion process allows for the rapid production of aluminum bottles. The remarkable flexibility of aluminum alloys helps create differentiation by combining bright metallic aesthetics with new forms.

The production of aluminum requires a significant amount of energy. This makes aluminum production economically viable only with abundant and inexpensive electricity. The process begins with the heating of bauxite ore to produce aluminum oxide (also known as alumina). Subsequently, through the electrolysis process – developed from the late 19th century and known as the Hall-Héroult process – pure aluminum is separated from oxygen (which accumulates on the anode to form carbon dioxide gas).

However, recycling aluminum is a much more efficient method compared to using virgin materials. This process only consumes about 5% of the energy required for producing aluminum from virgin sources, and it is carried out at lower temperatures – the melting point of aluminum is 660°C (1,220°F), while only emitting approximately 5% carbon dioxide gas.

Recycled aluminum is often combined with various other components to create alloys, making the properties of mixed recycled aluminum incomparable to pure aluminum. To maintain optimal properties, sorting different types of aluminum is necessary before recycling.

ALUMINIUM ALLOY IN ARCHITECTURE AND CONSTRUCTION
ALUMINUM IN PACKAGING

Aluminum is the top choice for packaging in the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries due to its versatility. Beverage cans and spray bottles are often created using methods like stamping and extrusion, while ultra-thin aluminum foil is used for tubes and blister packs. The tight seal of aluminum keeps products fresh and protected from light and oxygen.

Printing and coloring are achieved through offset and digital techniques, resulting in visually appealing and high-quality packaging. Another significant advantage of aluminum is its high recyclability, which helps minimize waste and conserve resources.

However, sorting and recycling aluminum require attention because different types of aluminum may not be compatible with each other in the recycling process due to the diversity in alloy composition.

ALUMINUM ALLOYS IN cookware

Aluminum is widely used in kitchenware, much like cast iron, steel, and copper alloys. The choice depends on personal preferences and cooking methods. Aluminum conducts heat more efficiently than steel but is not suitable for induction cooktops. It is easily cast into complex shapes and less prone to corrosion than iron. The surface of aluminum can be coated to enhance durability and scratch resistance. Non-stick coatings are also employed to prevent food from sticking and facilitate easy cleaning, but care must be taken to avoid scratching.

ALUMINUM ALLOYS IN THE TEXTILES

In the textile industry, fabrics are often combined with a thin layer of aluminum to create fashionable clothing or flame-resistant garments. These garments can be made from steel wire mesh or from tough, abrasion-resistant fabrics.

The process of creating aluminum-coated fabric typically involves vacuum deposition or thin rolling. Vacuum deposition is a process where the metal is heated until it vaporizes and then condenses onto the fabric. Thin rolling involves combining thin aluminum foil with a plastic film under high pressure. Both methods result in a thin and flexible coating, making the clothing comfortable to wear.

Vacuum-deposited metal coatings usually pop back when bent, while thin-rolled aluminum foil typically undergoes permanent deformation, helping to differentiate between the two types.

ALUMINUM ALLOYS IN PRODUCTS, FURNITURE, AND LIGHTING

Aluminum is favored for its sleek metallic gray appearance and impressive mechanical properties, making it prevalent in high-end products, furniture, and lighting fixtures. Aluminum is suitable for structural components such as tables, chairs, and desk lamps, as well as intricately designed sculptures by renowned designers. Its durability allows for outdoor and public use, making it an ideal material for mobile accessories as well. In recent years, the use of aluminum in consumer products has seen a significant rise, especially in electronic devices like laptops and smartphones. The 6 series alloy is the most popular due to its balance of strength and formability. While manufacturing aluminum alloy parts often requires more time and cost compared to plastic, they are significantly sturdier and more durable. Various shaping processes, including extrusion and CNC machining, are utilized to create aluminum products with desired shapes and sizes.

ALUMINUM ALLOYS IN AUTOMOTIVE AND AEROSPACE

In the mid-20th century, aluminum alloys became the most crucial materials in the modern automotive and aerospace industries. Alloys such as type 2 and 7, known for their high strength, are used for applications like chassis, casings, supports, and seating. Meanwhile, types 3, 5, and 6 are typically applied to less critical components.

Although aluminum has dominated in passenger aircraft for many years, recently, composite materials have challenged this position. Advances in materials and manufacturing have reduced the cost of composite materials, making them cost-effective and applicable. These materials, particularly carbon fiber-reinforced plastics and polyetheretherketone (PEEK), offer superior mechanical properties and can be tailored to specific needs.

Aluminum alloys also suit many automotive components. Cast aluminum is often used for wheels, engine blocks, and drivetrain parts, while forged aluminum is suitable for chassis and body frames. Substituting aluminum for cast iron or lightweight steel helps reduce the overall vehicle weight, providing numerous benefits in terms of performance and safety.

Aluminum alloy joining techniques can be carried out through welding, adhesive bonding, or riveting, depending on the specific requirements of the application. However, aluminum may fatigue under cyclic loading, so careful design and testing are necessary to ensure safety and performance.

ALUMINUM ALLOYS IN SPORTS

High-strength aluminum alloys offer a near-perfect balance of mechanical properties, making them an ideal choice for various types of sports equipment. The benefits of aluminum in sports, along with other advantages, reflect the advancements in the automotive and aerospace industries. In these industries, significant investments in material technology have been made to create increasingly lightweight and reliable structures. Conversely, the sports industry pushes aluminum alloys to their limits, opening up new prospects for development in the future.

ALUMINUM ALLOYS IN ARCHITECTURE AND CONSTRUCTION

Since the early 20th century, aluminum alloys have been widely used in architecture and construction. Initially, this application was slow – aluminum was mainly used for decorative purposes, and the first major structural application was the Empire State Building in New York, completed in 1931 – but it later expanded. Today, about 20-30% of aluminum alloy production is used for architectural projects, second only to steel. Aluminum alloys are applied in a range of projects, from lightweight structural elements, facades, interiors, and decorations, to reflective coatings on roofs and thermal insulation. Aluminum alloys are suitable for both commercial and residential projects, with the most common types being 3, 5, and 6. Type 3 is often used in sheet form, while type 6 is suitable for extrusion, opening up many design opportunities, making aluminum structures prevalent in modern architecture (such as window frames, louver doors, etc.).

Aluminum alloys directly compete with steel, wood, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Although these materials each have their own advantages, steel is heavier and more prone to corrosion than aluminum; wood has many variants and is difficult to manufacture into complex shapes; and PVC is less rigid and has a lower strength-to-weight ratio, while facing challenges regarding sustainability.