The Properties of Aluminium play an important role in its transformation to one of the most significant and versatile materials on earth. The properties of aluminium are acquired from its ability to form aluminium alloys on combining with chemical elements. These aluminium alloys got unique properties that can be customised for various applications.
What is aluminium?
Aluminium is a silvery-white lightweight material that makes up for more than 8% of the earth’s core mass. It is the 13th element of the periodic table. and is the third common element on earth other than silicon and oxygen. Aluminum is available in the form of aluminium sulphates.
Manufacturing process of aluminium
The primary raw material used for producing aluminium is Bauxite. Extracting a tonne of aluminium requires 5-6 tonnes of bauxite. Aluminum is manufactured in two phases: the Bayer process of refining the bauxite ore to produce aluminium oxide. Aluminium oxide is processed in smelters to produce aluminium. The process of extraction of aluminium from bauxite is known as electrolysis or electrolytic reduction.
Properties of aluminium.
Aluminum is one of the most commonly used building material. Aluminum is the preferred choice for a lot of applications because of its unique and valuable properties.
a) Light weight properties of aluminium
Aluminium is lightweight and is 1/3rd the weight of steel and is one of the lightest materials in the world. Even though aluminium is lightweight it is very strong and corrosion-resistant. Because of its lightweight properties, aluminium can reduce the dead loads on a structure and optimise the design. This optimisation can reduce costs in a lot of applications.
b) Corrosion Resistant properties of aluminium
Aluminum is corrosion-resistant, due to the formation of a thin oxide film on its surface. This film acts as a barrier and prevents corrosion.
c) Non magnetic properties of aluminium
Aluminum is non-magnetic and a very good conductor of heat and electricity. Because of these properties aluminium is used for power transmission cables, computer components, LED lights, etc
d) Flexibility in moulding and fabricating
Aluminum is processed in both cold and hot conditions. It can be easily pulled, moulded, rolled, and extruded very easily. Similarly, aluminium can be formed into thin sheets of even 4-micron thickness.
They can be welded and fabricated to any shape. Aluminum is used for making sophisticated aircraft parts to foils for wrapping. Considering the flexibility of fabrication into any shape aluminium forms an integral part of the construction sector for facades, skylights, green building structures, doors, and windows, etc
e) Aluminium alloys
Aluminum forms a huge variety of alloys in combination with a lot of chemical elements. Even the smallest change in the percentage of ingredients can change the metal properties. This gives the much-needed flexibility for usage in various conditions. Aluminum zinc alloy is used for making computer and mobile components, similarly aluminium with silicon is used for manufacturing alloy wheels and automobile components. A small percentage of elements can vary the properties to any extend.
f) No toxic and odourless
Aluminum is non-toxic and orders less. Hence it is used extensively in the food processing and beverage industries.
g) Strength at low temperatures
Aluminum can retain its strength even at very low temperatures wherein steel tends to get brittle in low temperatures.
Aluminium can be coated/finished using any colour in line with the objects colour scheme.
Aluminum is a hundred percent recyclable. The recycled product has all the qualities of a virgin product.
j) Reflective properties of aluminium
Aluminum posses very good reflectivity. Hence it is used for roofing sheets and Light shades. Aluminum roofing can reflect heat and cools the ambient temperature.
Applications of aluminium in construction sector
Aluminum can be welded, fabricated, painted, and moulded into any shape and forms. They are lightweight and can be lifted and erected very easily. Because of these unique qualities, aluminium is one of the most versatile, significant, and cost-effective materials used in the construction sector. The most important use of aluminium is in the form of extrusions. Extrusions are fabricated/jointed to form doors, windows, and partitions, frames of facades, skylight structures, green buildings, aluminium structures, etc. Aluminum extrusions are coated/painted to match the colour scheme of the building/structure. Because of these qualities, aluminium is the most popular material used extensively in the construction sector.
Aluminum itself is non-corrosive due to the formation of thin oxide films on the surface for protection from corrosion. Then why you need a coating for aluminum.
a) Enhance the look and appearance
Mill finished aluminium is dull in colour and may not always match with the building/structure’s colour scheme. On the application of the coating, the aluminium structures can match the colour scheme of buildings/structures. Designers/architects proposes the type of coating and colour to be applied after analysing the utilities, environment, and colour schemes. A coating matching with an appropriate colour scheme can enhance the appearance and look of structures/buildings.
b) Increase the Corrosion resistant properties
Most of the cases the oxide film on the surface of aluminium is sufficient to take care of corrosion. In some cases, the structures need an extra protection from corrosion. Similarly long exposure to moisture and water can damage the natural oxide film. The coatings can increase the thickness of oxide film and can provide an extra layer of protection which in turn enhance the protection against wear and tear, handling defects, and corrosion.
c) Hardness of members
Coatings can increase the hardness of the materials and protect the material from excessive wear and abrasion encountered on transportation, loading, fabrication erection, etc. Coatings also protect the structures against possible wear and abrasion when used in high traffic areas.
d) Dye marks
Mill finished aluminium have dye marks. Coatings cover these dye marks and makes the surface look smooth and even.
Coatings increase the reflectivity of aluminium and hence used for roofing sheets and light covers.