Around 200 years ago, Aluminium was discovered. Since its discovery, Aluminium has set a strong foot in the building industry.
After the technological development aluminium alloys were widely accepted in structural applications. After steel, Aluminium is considered as the second-best choice in building, it is widely used in commercial sectors.
In this article we will cover why Aluminium is effective and useful in the construction industry. How it can benefit the modern building industry. The blog will also cover the advantages and disadvantages of using Aluminium in the construction business.
Introduction (Why Aluminium)
As we have maintioned earlier, Aluminium after steel is considered as a second-best option in structural applications. It is widely being used in the construction business and household dwellings. In the United Kingdom alone around 40% of Aluminium alone is being used in the construction industry in a year. Which estimates to roughly 150’000 tonnes per annum, out of which 65’00 tonnes are being used in extrusion and the remaining 25’000 tonnes are being utilized in the making of sheet material.
Aluminum is widely used in windows, roofing, cladding, curtain walling, and structural glazing, prefabricated buildings, architectural hardware, H&V, shopfitting, and partitions. It is also widespread in the market of plants, and scaffolding.
WHAT MAKES ALUMINUM SO VALUABLE IN CONSTRUCTION?
From seeing the stats, it is indeed very much clear that Aluminium is a widely used metal in the construction industry.
There are a whole bunch of reasons why builders find Aluminium as a reliable source for construction. Here are some reasons why.
Firstly, one of the most catching qualities of Aluminium is its high strength to weight ratio. This specific quality is itself very beneficial for the construction industry. This characteristic has many advantages such if Aluminium is used in the infrastructure of the building it will be able to bear the heavyweight of glass spans, an important consideration in the making of offices and skyscrapers. This ability allows more usage of glass, which can allow more sunlight to come into the building and who does not want to work in the natural light.
Secondly, Aluminium offers airtightness. The cracks which can appear in the material from which the window frames are built are the main source of air leakage, this can disrupt the cooling and heating systems, Aluminium offers air tightness and therefore air cracks won’t be a problem if you have aluminium window frames installed.
Airtightness leads to the other major advantage of using aluminium, that is its durability. Aluminium is a corrosion-resistant element which is why the life of products made from Aluminium has a longer life than other materials. Anodized Aluminium can be easily polished and is incredibly long-lasting. This characteristic can specifically cut down maintenance costs. Aluminium can withstand harsh weather conditions whether its humid or dry.
Aluminium alloys are also widely accepted because of their appearance. Because of Aluminium responsiveness to polishing, it can be polished in an aesthetically pleasing way. Most importantly, Aluminium, after the anodizing process, can be dyed in any colour. This can be achieved by immersing it in the warm bath of colouring agents. Because Aluminium is aesthetically pleasing, it is fun to work with and builders use them for decorative purposes.
Aluminium offers great strength but is very lightweight. This reason makes it extremely easy to work with Aluminium. Aluminium alloys can be easily welded, forged, and extruded. It can be used in various ways.
From the support structure of the building to the decorative features, you will find Aluminium everywhere because of its versatility.
WHAT ALLOYS ARE COMMONLY FOUND IN BUILDINGS?
Alumina is relativity low in strength as compared to alloyed aluminium. As a result, to make it preferable for the extrusion and other manufactured components Aluminium is alloyed to improve the strength. Most heavily alloyed Aluminium is still, however, 92% pure.
The two mainstream alloys used in the construction and building market are 5000 work-hardened magnesium and 6000 heat-treated magnesium-silicon alloys. 6000 series alloys are easily extruded and are therefore used widely in the engineering of more complex designs. Manganese alloys, for example, 3103 and silicon alloys such as LM6 are widely accepted in the construction market.
Every product, the element has different properties and qualities. It entirely depends on the designer what kind of product they want and what are the key qualities they are looking for.
While looking for an Aluminium alloy, the designer is offered a wide range of qualities varying from high strength, low density, high-temperature resistance, better forming, and connecting ability, etc. the appropriate choice for extrusion is the use of 6000 series alloys, but it must be made sure that what is the nature of the task that it is being used for.
Take an example of the 6063 T5 Aluminium it offers good extrudability, is corrosive resistant, and offers a great finish which makes it feasible to use in fenestration. Each market has its own requirements and high knowledge of the metal is required to achieve the desired results. In the end, we do not want to end up with a product that does not meet our ends
Advantages of using aluminum in building construction
From the above, it is quite clear that Aluminium must be the first choice while considering building something. Aluminium is versatile and therefore can serve many purposes. The most notable one being, in this era where ecology is being compromised, is I’s eco-friendly nature.
Pure Aluminium is low in strength therefore not suitable for building but alloy elements such as copper, silicon, and magnesium can come in handy in this situation. When the element is alloyed the strength is increased. The alloying process changes the mechanical and physical properties of the element to help it achieve the requirements. Demanded in the market.
Aluminium can be dyed in any colour after being polished which is why it is widely accepted for decoration purposes. Aluminium treatments can increase in corrosion resistance.
These are water and corrosion resistant and offers great resistivity to harmful UV rays.
Aluminium’s surface after polishing can be finished in such a way to beautify the material for decorative purposes. To ensure smoothness and to achieve a perfect finish it is pre-treated to enhance its corrosion resistive quality. Anodizing and painting are two main ways of finishing the surface.
Aluminium is mainly preferred because it is a lightweight metal, the weight of the metal is around 2.71 g/cm3, which is 3 times less than the weight of steel. This makes Aluminium easier and cheaper to transport than most of the other metals.
This characteristic combined with alloying metals can improve the strength of Aluminium and therefore it can be more beneficial and useful. This reason allows Aluminium sheets to be used in vehicle paneling and decorative purposes
Aluminium is preferable to other metals because it is light weight yet offers the same strength as steel which makes it greatly beneficial in the construction market. Why burden yourself with a heavy metal when you can get the same strength in lightweight metal. By using Aluminium, the product, you are trying to build or extrude will not be of low quality, instead, it will be good in structural strength.
Aluminium naturally produces a protective covering, which is why it has great corrosion resistance ability. The natural coating which is formed on top of the surface is extremely thin and is formed when Aluminium is naturally oxidized. This layer is basically the barrier that is required to resist corrosion. On top of this anodizing and painting also adds an extra layer and helps in protection against corrosion.
Aluminium is 100% recyclable metal. And in the process, it does not loose any of its qualities. It is more cost-friendly to use recycled metal during production processes, than using metal that is extracted straight out of the ground.
Aluminium reusability is considered extremely important in the construction market because builders prefer deconstruction over demolishing. Choosing deconstruction is always preferred because using the recycled metal helps in cutting costs, reduces landfill costs, and reduces environmental damage that can result from the extraction of the metal.
It is a great heat and electrical conductor. Although it is not as efficient as copper, it still can in half of the weight of copper provide the same amount of electrical resistance which makes it a better option than copper. It is the preferred metal in the power lines industry. Secondly, it is used in heat sinks widely because it is a great conductor of heat.
Odourless and Impermeable
Even the thickest sheet of Aluminium is impermeable. It does not have any sort of added taste or smell to it, which makes it a first choice in being used in the pharmaceutical and food packaging industry.
Studies have been carried out to prove that Alloyed Aluminium is very beneficial in the construction industry. Furthermore, the studies have proven that treatment and polishing materials are all neutral.
From what we have maintained above in the blog, it is quite clear that Aluminium is a great metal for building, extruding, and decorating.
Looking at the metal from a very technical point of view it is very easy to say that Aluminium can provide endless benefits to the construction industry, it contains extraordinary properties which in themselves are very important in construction.
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