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The Use of Aluminium in Construction

Aluminum is commonly employed in construction because of its inherent advantages of lightness and corrosion resistance. Since 1886, aluminum has been utilized extensively as an industrial metal. The present smelting method was invented at this time. When compared to metals like lead, copper, and bronze, which have been used for thousands of years, this suggests the metal has been available for a shorter time.

This material is frequently utilized as a substitute for steel in situations where its unique qualities are critical and worth paying for. Their unique characteristics are their lightweight and sparkling appearance. Aluminum usage in the globe is estimated to be in the range of 20 million tonnes per year. Aluminum is utilized in a variety of applications, including external facades, roofs and walls, windows and doors, stairwells, railings, and shelves, among others.

Fig 1: Structure made from aluminum
Fig 1: Structure made from aluminum
Courtesy: Howard Precision Metals

Properties
Following are the properties of aluminum which makes aluminum one of the important building materials.

  • Air Tightness
    When closed, aluminum doors, windows, and frames are completely airtight, allowing no dust, air, or water in. Aluminum doors and windows are now commonly utilized in fully air-conditioned structures such as lecture rooms, theatres, and similar spaces.

  • Strength to Weight Ratio
    The strength-to-weight ratio of aluminum as a construction material is extremely high. It denotes that a modest amount of aluminum can increase structural strength. We can build the structure in less time because of the lighter weight, and load transmission to the foundation is also minimized.

  • Ease in Fabrication and Assembly
    Aluminum alloys are more easily cast, forged, extruded, rolled, or welded than other metals. It cannot break during or after the aluminum alloy composition since it is not brittle. Aluminum buildings can be removed, transported, and reassembled with ease.

  • Cryogenics
    Cryogenics is the study of phenomena that occur at extremely low temperatures. Steel becomes brittle and loses its strength at extremely low temperatures. Aluminum, on the other hand, is well suited to sub-zero temperatures. As a result, for snow-bound places, aluminum constructions are far superior.

  • Low Handling and Transportation Cost
    Because of its lightweight, aluminum is particularly easy to handle. As a result, we can readily carry it in large quantities to any location at a reasonable cost of transportation.

  • Reflectivity
    Aluminum has a high reflectivity as well. Aluminum has a low absorption heat and does not absorb radiant heat. So, it keeps the interior cooler in the summer, and it keeps the interior warmer in the winter.

  • Corrosion Resistance
    Aluminum has very strong corrosion resistance. Weathering circumstances do not affect it. They can resist both humid and hot, dry climates. Corrugated aluminum sheets are commonly utilized in power plants, chemical plants, paper mills, and petroleum refineries due to their excellent corrosion resistance.

  • Appearance
    Aluminum also adds to the structure’s aesthetic appeal. Aluminum buildings can have a smooth and brilliant finish. In order to enhance the decorative style, we can also give various colors to the aluminum sheets.

  • High Scrap Value
    Aluminum has a very high scrap value. As a result, it is extremely resistant to damage and long-lasting. We can resell it for a reasonable price because of its high scrap value.

  • Sound Proof
    Soundproofing is achieved by using aluminum sheets. They are good reflectors of sound and electromagnetic radiation alike. As a result, they don’t allow outside noise into the building and enable inside sounds to escape.

  • Low Maintenance Cost
    Aluminum has great corrosion resistance and outstanding qualities against low temperatures; thus, it requires less maintenance. Even though it is costly to purchase, it will last for 25 to 30 years without maintaining it.

  • Static and Dynamic Loading Resilience
    Aluminum goods have the capacity to resume both shape and size under static and dynamic stress situations, which is beneficial when flexible strength is required. Racing yacht masts and spars are built to endure the stress of the wind versus the waves.

  • Aluminium Alloy Corrosion Resistance
    When aluminum is exposed to air, it creates a thin oxidized layer on the surface that protects it from corrosion. When the layer is scratched, it quickly recovers, keeping the protection. Construction, structures, and domestic utensils all exploit this function.

  • Toxic-free
    Aluminum is a non-toxic, odorless metal. It has a smooth, easy-to-clean surface that is hygienic because no germs can develop on it. As a result, it’s common in beverage cans, food packaging, cooking utensils, as well as the fishing and dairy industries.

  • Conducts heat
    Heat is better conducted by aluminum than by any other common metal. It has a heat conductivity three times that of steel. It is widely utilized in the culinary, chemical, petroleum, aircraft, and automotive industries for heat exchange applications (heating and cooling).

  • Available in a wide variety of colors and styles.
    To improve the surface qualities of aluminum or change its look, various treatments can be applied. Chemical or anodizing procedures can color the metallic surface. Surface textures ranging from rough to matte to mirror-smooth can be generated. Paint, lacquer, enamel, electroplating, and laminate are examples of coatings that can be used.

    Almost without a hitch
    Aluminum extrusions are aesthetically and operationally seamless one-piece items. Even with tubes and other hollow shapes, no mechanically bonded seams detract from the aesthetic, become loose, or leak.

  • Integral Shapes that are Complex
    The ability of aluminum to execute integral design and manufacture can save costs while improving performance and reliability. Extrusion allows for the cost-effective production of product shapes that would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve any other way.

    Aluminum extrusions can be made to fit together easily with other components. Huge things can be produced in the form of disassembled kits that require the least amount of labor and skill to assemble. Aluminum extrusions of consistently high quality can be mass-produced in large quantities with low rejection rates and minimal corrective fabrication.

  • Conclusion
    The alloys, surface treatments (coatings), and materials utilized have proven to be neutral in independent studies. Aluminum utilized in the construction sector has no harmful effects on the air quality within buildings, land, or ocean.

    These are just a few of the advantages of employing aluminum; in terms of technological advancement, the exceptional qualities of this metal will provide (possibly) limitless options for creating engineering applications.

    References

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    Kanwarjot Singh

    Kanwarjot Singh is the founder of Civil Engineering Portal, a leading civil engineering website which has been awarded as the best online publication by CIDC. He did his BE civil from Thapar University, Patiala and has been working on this website with his team of Civil Engineers.

    If you have a query, you can ask a question here.

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