Aluminium is used a lot in construction, industry and various other sectors. But what makes aluminium such a popular metal for all sorts of applications? Read all about the characteristics and properties of aluminium in this blog.
Lightweight, strong and easy to work with
Aluminium is a lightweight metal with a density of 2.7 kg per dm3. By way of comparison, aluminium is about three times lighter than steel. Despite this, aluminium is a strong, tough and elastic material thanks to its low density and light weight. This relative strength makes aluminium well-suited for a variety of applications in all sorts of sectors.
Here's an interesting titbit about aluminium: Despite its relative strength, the metal can be excellently formed to take on any desired shape. Using various (machining) techniques, aluminium profiles, plates and pipes can be shaped as desired. And the material is also easy to work with: milling, cutting, drilling, bending, welding, rotary die cutting, machining; it's all possible.
Aesthetics are also important. In addition to the above options, aluminium is also very well suited for powder coating or wet coating in any desired colour. This gives the material the right appearance and allows it to be stylishly used in various environments.
Excellent conduction and reflection
Aluminium has powerful conductive properties; the material is a good conductor of both heat and electricity. This makes it a useful metal for applications in cooling systems and heating systems.
Another practical aspect is that aluminium offers effective protection from electromagnetic radiation. This is related to aluminium's conductivity. The stronger a material's conductive property, the better its protective capability.
Aluminium is also characterised by a high reflective ability. Both visible light and heat radiation are strongly reflected. This is useful when the material is used for various heating technologies.
Corrosion-resistance and durability
One of the most important properties of aluminium is its ability to project itself from corrosion. When it comes into contact with oxygen, a thin layer of oxidation forms naturally on the material. This layer ensures that the aluminium is protected from the effects of outdoor air. If damaged, the oxidation layer can restore itself because the damaged area is re-exposed to oxygen and reacts to this by forming more oxidation.
Aluminium's corrosion resistance can be significantly improved by anodising the aluminium. Anodisation is an electrochemical process used to apply a thicker oxidation layer on the material. Anodisation of aluminium is also an excellent manner to beautify the material.
The durability of aluminium is determined by several factors. The previously mentioned corrosion resistance is one of the factors that increases aluminium's durability. The corrosion resistance also helps ensure the material's long life span. Aluminium lasts for many decades in construction and industrial applications, especially if the corrosion resistance is reinforced.
But is aluminium really at the end of its life span after some 60 years? That's when the material once again proves its strength, thanks to its recyclability. Because aluminium can be recycled without any loss of quality, it can be used again and again. The vast majority of the aluminium can be recycled at the end of its life span. Reuse is more efficient than new production. That's because secondary production consumes 95% less energy than primary production.
This reuse, combined with its long life span, makes aluminium a durable material. Certainly if you realize that aluminium is the most abundant metal on Earth, with a prospect of commercially viable quantities far into the future.
Aluminium: the final score
All of these characteristics make aluminium a versatile and durable material. Want to find out more about the above-described properties? On this page we provide more detailed information about aluminium's various characteristics.
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