Aluminium is a widespread and well-known chemical element and is used in countless applications. It is often found where the heavy metals copper or iron could be used as an alternative. The decision in favour of aluminium depends on various factors. Its density, for example, is many times lower than that of heavy metals. For this reason, aluminium is often referred to as a so-called light metal.
In its pure form, the metal is not particularly strong. However, its strength can be increased by alloying it. It should be noted that the protective oxide layer of various alloys is disturbed. As a result, the components are often susceptible to corrosion. The tendency to corrosion also occurs when aluminium is in direct contact with other metals. Therefore, the use of aluminium is very much dependent on the intended application.
Aluminium in vehicle and bicycle construction
The classic application for the use of aluminium is vehicle construction. Here, weight reduction is always important in order to reduce fuel consumption. Since aluminium has a low density, this light metal is a perfect candidate for automotive components. As a rule, aluminium is used in vehicle construction primarily for engine elements, such as the engine block, pistons or cylinder heads. Of course, body parts are also frequently made of aluminium. Examples are doors, bonnets or mudguards.
For the same reason as in vehicle construction, aluminium is also frequently used in bicycle construction. Aluminium components can reduce weight compared to heavier components. This no longer only plays a role in the professional sector, but has also become increasingly important for hobby cyclists for many years. After all, a light bicycle with aluminium components is easier to move than a heavy one!
Aluminium in electrical engineering
In addition to its low density, this light metal has excellent electrical and thermal conductivity. As an electrical conductor, for example, aluminium reaches 65% of the value of copper. It is therefore not surprising that aluminium and aluminium alloys are often used when electricity has to be transported or signals have to be transmitted.
In addition to its electrical conductivity, aluminium is often traded as a substitute for heat sinks. In a direct comparison of thermal conductivity between the metals copper, aluminium and iron, aluminium is in second place - after copper.
Which processing method is suitable for aluminium?
The main disadvantages of aluminium are its tendency to corrode and its limited weldability and solderability. Cracks often form, which can lead to instability. The most important thing here is to choose the correct form of processing method to compensate for the disadvantages.
What is the raw material price of aluminium?
The raw material price of aluminium is acceptable. This is also due to the fact that aluminium is not a really rare element. Not least for this reason, the light metal often prevails over copper.
With all the advantages that come with the use of aluminium, the disadvantages must always be considered as well. As is so often the case, it ultimately depends on the intended use. The problems with corrosion should be mentioned here in the first place. But also the susceptibility to cracking and sometimes complex pre-treatments can be challenging and influence the decision. Before making a decision, the advantages and disadvantages should therefore be compared and evaluated.