Since aluminum’s price reduction and its properties having been effectively studied, it has been instrumental in the building industry. Technological developments triggered the acceptance of aluminum in structural applications. Aluminum is broadly used in household dwellings and commercial constructions as it’s the second-best choice after steel. Did you know that 25% of globally produced aluminum is used in construction? The UK uses about 40% of aluminum annually in the construction industry – that’s roughly 150 000 tons a year.
History of Aluminum Utilizing in Construction
Aluminum was discovered about 200 years ago. It was widely used for different limited applications across various industries. At the beginning of the 19th century, aluminum was nearly unused in the construction industry since it wasn’t produced in sufficient volumes and was very expensive. Around the 1920s, the electrolysis process was a game changer as it cut down aluminum costs by 80%.
This made the metal extremely popular for finishing domes and roofs, used in wall panels and drains, and for decorative purposes. Built in 1931, the Empire State Building (the prominent New York skyscraper and the tallest building worldwide up to 1970) was the first building that showcased the proper utilization of aluminum in construction. Metal was used in every basic structure of the building and interior spaces. The building’s fresco on the walls and lobby ceiling are the calling cards made of 23-karat gold and aluminum.
In the 1940s, aluminum’s application in architecture and construction was predominantly used for plane production. This is where it earned the unusual nickname – winged metal. However, aluminum became more popular in constructing bridges and high-rise buildings in the mid-twentieth century.
Aluminum was increasingly used in making window frames, doomed roofs, panels, and other ornaments and widespan constructions. In this modern day, aluminum is used in making roofs, translucent panes, staircases, solar protection, furniture, siding, doorframes and windows, air conditioning systems, and heating systems, among others.
Specific Production and Application
Aluminum products are formed by pressing soft aluminum through a particular die of holes of a specific section during extrusion. Extrusion helps aluminum machining parts manufacturers achieve maximum accuracy in product sizes. Aluminum is also compatible with anodizing and polishing, a highly valued quality by designers.
Anodizing provides intensive anticorrosive protection for aluminum. Anodizing consists of several electrochemical processes for forming a tough corrosion-proof film for aluminum oxides and metal surface preparation. Polishing is equally essential as it prepares aluminum products for other finishing procedures. Anodizing and polishing processes create an artificial colorless film with a high absorption capacity for painting – a necessary strategy for decorative purposes.
Numerous aluminum products are widely used in various industries.
Civil engineers frequently use aluminum ingots and billets in processing windows, stairs, roof sheets, floating ceilings, doors, wall panels, and much more. Magnesium-silicon 6ххх alloys are better extruded in their billet form, which is why they offer a broad scope of manufacturing the most complex architectural shapes.
Cold- or hot-finished flat rolled products produce wire, slab, and aluminum sheets. Builders use aluminum for different purposes, including making windows, cladding, structural glazing, architectural hardware, shopfitting, roofing, curtain walling, prefabricated building, H&V, and partitions.
Other engineers use the gridshell technique common in modern architecture for building exhibitions, trading, and entertainment, among other pavilions. This similar technique is used in making large-scale structures such as covered pools, stadiums, and other sports facilities.
Some actual aluminum applications in the construction industry include;
- The construction of the Aviamotornaya underground station ceiling in Moscow
- Using anodic aluminum raised plates in constructing the State Kremlin Palace and the Russian Academy of Sciences
- The construction of skyscrapers like the Crystal Centre for Sustainable Urban Development in London, the Empire State Building in New York, St Mary Axe in London, GT Tower East Location in Seoul, Moscow-City in Moscow, and The Co-operative Group in Manchester
- The construction of pavilions such as the Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, The Sage Gateshead in Gateshead Quays, Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, and the Dzintari Concert Hall in Yurmala
- The construction of stadiums such as Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, the London Aquatics Centre in London, and The Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi
What Makes Aluminum So Valuable in Construction
Aluminum’s stats show that it’s the most preferred metal in the construction industry. There are numerous reasons why builders regard aluminum as an authentic source for construction.
For instance, aluminum’s strength-to-weight ratio is an unmatched quality. This means that it offers excellent strength, although it’s significantly lightweight. The property makes the metal appealing for the infrastructure of the building since it can accommodate the heavy weight of glass spans. It is an essential consideration in making skyscrapers and offices. The characteristic allows more glass usage, which permits more sunlight into the building, making it conducive for people to work with natural light.
Aluminum also offers airtightness. Cracks that appear on window frames made of other materials are the leading cause of air leakages that can disrupt the heating and cooling systems in a building. Installing window frames made of aluminum will offer airtightness, making the air cracks unproblematic.
Aluminum is reputable for its durability features. The metal is resistant to corrosion making aluminum products last longer than other materials. Anodized aluminum is incredibly long-lasting and can easily be polished. This property can quickly minimize maintenance costs. Sill on costs, aluminum is a 100% recyclable metal. During recycling, it doesn’t lose its qualities. Its recyclability characteristics make the production processes more cost-friendly.
Aluminum alloys are credited for their appearance. Aluminum responds well to polishing which allows aluminum machining parts manufacturers the opportunity to polish the metal in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Most importantly, aluminum can be dyed in any color after the anodizing process. This is achieved by immersing the aluminum part in a warm bath of coloring agents. The metal’s exquisitely pleasing characteristics make it fun to work with, and that’s why builders use it for decorative purposes.
Aluminum structures have a minimum design service life of 80 years. During this lifespan, it can be subjected to any climatic conditions, and it doesn’t lose its properties in temperature ranges of –80 °C to 300 °C. Aluminum structures are slightly prone to damage in fires. However, it becomes tougher at low temperatures.
Furthermore, it’s effortless to work with aluminum. Aluminum alloys can easily be forged, extruded, and welded. Aluminum is also a versatile metal, and it can be used in numerous ways, including making support structures and decorative features.