Aluminum has been used in industrial and consumer products since early in the 20th century. Its combination of lightweight, high strength, conductivity, and appearance quickly made it a favorite material choice in many industries once its manufacturing processes were developed. Now aluminum can be efficiently extracted from its ore and processed in custom engineered refractory services foundries and used in many applications.
Aluminum is sleek and shiny, making it a favorite material of designers. Of course, aluminum foil and packaging for food products are found in most kitchens, but aluminum is also used to make furniture and home décor items. Living room tables and kitchen dishes made of aluminum make a home look modern. Picture frames and lamps add a reflective element. Designers use aluminum in products such as watches and phones because it is lightweight and reasonably affordable.
An airplane fuselage is, at its most elemental, an aluminum tube. Using aluminum in aircraft allowed humans to achieve flight. It is much lighter than steel and also strong. Early aircraft — including the plane used by the Wright brothers — were not made of aluminum. It was too expensive and difficult to procure. A custom aluminum engine provided enough weight savings over steel automotive engines, though, to get their plane in the air. Even modern spacecraft are made primarily of aluminum because of its high strength-to-weight ratio.
The Empire State Building was the first building to be made with a significant amount of aluminum. Aluminum is still used in building construction for many reasons. As with consumer goods, aluminum has a look that many find attractive, so it is often used on visible building surfaces. Aluminum also does not burn, so it is ideal to use to meet fire safety requirements. Aluminum is also highly durable and requires minimal maintenance, making it a financially prudent choice for buildings.
Aluminum is a popular material for many reasons. Several of aluminum’s attributes — low weight, high strength, a shiny finish — are attractive qualities in many industries, making it used across a large spectrum of manufactured products.