What is Aluminum?
Aluminum is a metal that makes up 8% of the planet’s crust in a compound called alum or potassium aluminum sulfate. Aluminum is not a pure metal that you can just dig up. It is a combination of other natural elements that are combined to make more of an aluminum compound.
Aluminum is vastly used to provide tools and equipment like those manufactured in friction-stir welding productions and more. Aluminum is one of the oldest metal used in U.S. manufacturing industries and more.
Aluminum within the earth’s core is an ore called bauxite that is refined to produce aluminum alloys or oxide and common aluminum products that we use daily. Aluminum alloy is a chemical compound consisting of other elements to increase its strength and durability. The main elements that create aluminum alloy products are:
- bauxite (alumina)
Aluminum is also a sulfate mineral which is why in its near natural state is the 13th element on the periodic table. Next to oxygen, aluminum is the most common chemical element. Aluminum’s kissing cousins are natural crystalized gems like sapphire, ruby, emerald, and aquamarine. Sulfates are used to purify our drinking water, in certain medical prescriptions, in much of our cosmetics, and much more.
Aluminum alloy elements are enhanced through a heating and cold production treatments. The aluminum composite heating system ends with a rapid cooling that freezes the atoms that make up the alloy elements and keeps them in place. An aluminum alloy cold treatment begins with freezing and then going through a fabrication method to make it stronger for certain aluminum productions.
Industries Using Aluminum
Aluminum is vastly used in varied industries, and this is where MegaStir friction-stir welding is so important. Some of the industries where aluminum is used includes:
- Aluminum foil products and packaging
- Electrical advancements like aluminum air-batteries and translucent aluminum development
- Electronic appliances
- Manufacturing of aluminum cans
- Consumer Goods (Ex. Furniture accessories, food, and beverages)
- Others (production of advanced scientific technology like solar and nanotechnology).
Aluminum alloys are manufactured in category series depending on the type of industry usage. Each series identified below can be used in cross-industry applications. The aluminum characteristics include:
1xxx: the purest form of aluminum that is used in electrical productions, chemical equipment, and telecommunications as in our cellphones. This series does not ever corrode and retains a high conductivity ratio.
2xxx: this series is a wide-range temperature alloy. Aluminum alloys are used in aerospace and aircraft industries for welding.
3xxx: this is a medium strength alloy that is used in manufacturing cooking utensils, office equipment, building trims, and heat exchangers like car radiators, furnaces or home radiators.
5xxx: this aluminum alloy series works in any industry where welding is performed, like space, a marine environment, the railway industry, construction, the automotive industry, and general machinery businesses.
6xxx: this series is a great commercial aluminum alloy that is used in the aerospace industry and the military for machinery parts. It is made of a high and medium strength alloys. It is also used in varied metal shop building industries.
7xxx: this aluminum/zinc series contains the highest strength in alloys, yet it is a lightweight alloy. It is mainly used in the aerospace industry, making bridges, and sporting equipment and construction.
America produces less aluminum than many other nations. The largest supplier of varied aluminum and aluminum alloy is China. Aluminum markets and their off-shoot resources are also growing in Brazil, India, Africa, Russia, and South East Asia.
The U.S. Commerce Department reports that 90% of our aluminum is imported. American companies making aluminum goes where manufacturing electricity is cheaper, like Iceland. Older aluminum companies like Alcoa is seeing resurgence through friendly tariffs. Indiana manufacturing companies are firing up their smelting plants.
Properties and Future of Aluminum
The properties of aluminum make it one of the more popular elements. Aluminum is very popular because of the following:
- Non-flammable with no release of gases
- Recyclable – aluminum is called the ‘green’ metal
Aluminum is the material of choice for modern road vehicles. Using aluminum as the body for today’s cars and trucks promotes safety, fuel economy, and produces eco-friendly emissions. The use of aluminum is here to stay and it is proven that its use is improving our lives. Aluminum compounds like powder and salt are also used in medicine to treat ulcers, kidney infections, and in various vaccines.