Did you know that Aluminium is the most abundant metal in the world? Yep! Not gold, not silver, not even iron, which is the most commonly used by many. It is also the second most abundant chemical substance next to oxygen and silicon. We see it and hold it almost every day while we use transportation to work, as we ride the elevator, as we eat our meals using our utensils three times a day, and pay for it afterwards with coins at hand.
Because of its unique properties, varied uses of aluminium are hailed by manufacturers. As it covers 8% of the earth’s surface, the second-most in-demand metal in construction next to steel, once was prized more than gold. But because the people learned how to mass-produce it, that in 2018 approximately 12 million tonnes were made available for the world, it had become readily available for purchase.
Properties of Aluminium
Let’s look closer at why aluminium is in demand:
- Aluminium is three times lighter than iron, yet its durability is comparable to that of steel.
- It is both ductile and malleable that it can be produced into thin sheets.
- It is odourless, non-magnetic, and non-toxic.
- It is an excellent conductor which makes it non-combustible and fire-resistant.
- The combination of its properties makes it corrosion-resistant as its surface is protected by an extremely thin yet sturdy layer of aluminium oxide.
- It is 100% recyclable and reusable because aluminium itself and its alloys may be melted without compromising its mechanical properties.
Aluminium in Construction:
Among many uses of aluminium, construction highly demands its production. It became part of the industry then, in the early 20th century. Primarily used for decorative detailing and structures for the Art Deco in 1920, its use led to achieving a breakthrough in 1930 through the Empire State Building’s interior and iconic spire.
From then on, aluminium is used for roofing because of its ability to be produced in thin sheets. While steel develops rust, aluminium doesn’t. Or at least, not the way we know.
The thing is, aluminium corrodes. And the aluminium that we always see have corroded already resulting in its quick response to oxidizers in the atmosphere. And so, it immediately develops a passive layer of aluminium oxide, covering the pure metal protecting it from further surface corrosion.
Because aluminium is less dense than any other non-ferrous metal and is pretty sturdy if it’s alloyed with other metals, it becomes favourable for architects to use. Its high strength to weight ratio makes it much preferred when being fixed into buildings using fewer fixings as compared to other metals like iron. One common application of aluminium is as a facade of a building.
Being a good heat radiator, it can be produced in sheets which can be used for cladding and extrusion for the panel framework. Furthermore, anodized frames require minimal maintenance and longer resistance to wear and tear. If you’re planning on building long-span roof systems to cover large areas such as halls and auditoriums, aluminium is pretty much a good investment.
Aluminium’s ductility and malleability enable it to conform to any visualized shape, perspective, outlook, and exterior through anodizing. It is due to these properties that aluminium is a favourite material used by architects for an architectural cladding. The leeway and freedom they imagine can be achieved with the help of the white metal, as to how aluminium is also called, in achieving practicality of a building’s construction and its design at the same time. Building exteriors with large wall panels with lesser joints required have resulted in time-efficient installation because of aluminium.
Other construction areas:
Involvement of aluminium in construction isn’t just limited to buildings or skyscrapers. Aluminium also contributed remarkably to transportation, aviation, infrastructure, and packaging. Because of it, these structures remain sturdy, functional, and long-lasting, helping a lot of people with jobs, mobility, and accessibility.