The Advantages of Aluminum

An aesthetically appealing, silvery-white metal that is accessible, lightweight, durable, and infinitely recyclable, aluminum is an abundant and versatile material that is favored for an array of end applications, which range from design and architectural uses such as decorative detailing, structural elements, and construction to automotive and aviation design. While its inherent benefits were not harnessed until the 19th century when developments in chemistry and the advent of electricity brought its rewards to light, aluminum has evolved from a precious metal to a ubiquitously used design material in a short amount of time. The information that follows explores a handful of aluminum’s advantages.

It is extremely versatile

With a high strength-to-weight ratio, good ductility and malleability, high corrosion resistance, and good mechanical properties, aluminum’s inherent properties make it a popular metal for a wide range of uses.. It is also prevalent for end products such as signage, pipes, chains, cans, packaging, and shelving.

Photography Courtesy of Cascade Architectural

It is abundant in the earth’s crust 

Aluminum is the third most common element on earth and can be found in bauxite deposits as aluminum sulphates. For design and architectural purposes, aluminum is typically extruded as thin, long pieces of metal using electrolysis or electrolytic reduction.

It will not rust

Since aluminum has virtually no iron in its composition, it does not rust. This is because of the fact that rust is iron oxide, and most aluminum has virtually no iron in its composition. Aluminum does oxidize but this protects the underlying unoxidized metal. When the alloy is exposed to water, a film of aluminum oxide forms quickly on the surface. The hard oxide layer is quite resistant to further corrosion and protects the underlying metal.

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It can be easily recycled and reused

Aluminum is infinitely recyclable—on average aluminum is sold with approximately 60 percent postconsumer recycled content and nearly 75 percent of all aluminum produced is still in use today. The process typically involves melting down the used metal before forming or molding it into a desired end product, and the reused aluminum will not lose its qualities.

Photography Courtesy of Cascade Architectural

It can lead to reduced carbon emissions

Some forms of the highly abundant metal can lower both carbon emissions and energy costs. And for architectural projects, using aluminum building materials can often times help a project qualify for LEED points.

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