Aluminum is a popular material choice across a wide range of industries. Its excellent properties, including low-density, high strength, lightweight, corrosion resistance, and more make it ideal for various applications. This blog will go over the common uses of aluminum as well as their processing options.

Common Uses of Aluminum in the Automotive Industry 

Although aluminum has only recently become a new alternative metal for vehicle substructures, it has also emerged as a serious contender for application in large automotive body components. Some advantages of using aluminum in these applications include:

  • Performance. Aluminum is lighter than steel and offers improved acceleration, better handling, precise control, and enhanced braking. Its malleability also enables designers to create various vehicle shapes for optimal performance.
  • Safety. Aluminum can increase the size and energy absorption capacity on a vehicle’s front and rear crumple zones, enhancing safety without increasing weight.
  • Environmental. Aluminum requires less energy to recycle, reducing crude oil usage and CO2 emissions.
  • Fuel efficiency. Aluminum parts are lighter compared to steel components, leading to reduced fuel consumption.
  • Durability. The reduced need for rust repair in vehicles with aluminum parts increases their lifespan. Aluminum vehicle parts are also more suitable for challenging environments.

Common automotive applications of aluminum include:

  • Body components: Valance, trunk, hubcaps and rims, pillars, header panel, decklid, cowling, grille, roof rack, spoiler, bumper, fender, quarter panel, hood
  • Doors: Handles, latches, hinges, central locking
  • Windows: Sunroof railing, sunroof, motors

Aluminum Parts for the Electronic Industry 

The electrical conductivity and ductility of aluminum make it a popular option for electronics and electrical applications, such as:

  • Power systems
  • Electric motors
  • Power lines
  • Equipment housings
  • Internal brackets
  • Computer parts
  • Device casings

In addition to the above applications, aluminum is also used in the production of electronic and microelectronic components, including capacitors. Other common uses include radar construction, pylons for power lines, and the production of low-voltage motors and transformers.

Applications of Aluminum in the Construction Industry 

Aluminum is used throughout the construction industry due to its high strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance, durability, non-toxicity, and ability to be produced in virtually any shape. These features enable the creation of structures that aren’t achievable using steel, plastic, or wood.

With other properties such as durability, reflectivity, and machinability, aluminum has become the construction material of choice for applications such as:

  • High-rise buildings and skyscrapers
  • Drawbridges
  • Structural support for grid shell style architecture
  • Window trim
  • Architectural details
  • Downspouts and gutters
  • Roofs
  • Siding
  • Door frames
  • Staircases
  • Solar protection
  • Air conditioning systems
  • And more!

Aviation Industry Applications 

Depending on the particular alloy, aluminum can offer strength equivalent to steel with only a fraction of the weight. Because of this, aluminum aircraft components increase the plane’s carrying capacity and fuel efficiency. 

The aviation industry relies on aluminum because of its high strength-to-weight ratio. It is also durable and strong enough to handle the stresses of landings and takeoffs. The common aluminum grades and applications in the aerospace industry include:

  • 2024: Commonly used for plane cowls, skins, and structures. It is also used for restoration and repair. 
  • 3003: Common applications include cowls and baffle plating.
  • 5062: Commonly used for fuel tanks due to its high corrosion resistance.
  • 6061: Typically used for non-aviation structural applications and aircraft landing mats
  • 7075: Used to increase the strength of aircraft structures. This high-strength alloy is one of the most popular grades used throughout the aviation industry.

Processing Techniques 

Aluminum processing techniques fit a host of end uses and can meet a wide range of dimensional tolerance requirements. The processing technique you use depends on the alloy used as well as the part design. Common processing methods include:

  • Forging 
  • Drawing
  • Extruding
  • Casting
  • Sintering
  • Machining
  • Stamping
  • Laser cutting
  • Explosion forming
  • 3D printing

Finishing Options 

There are various finishing options available to meet different functional, appearance, and environmental requirements. Common finishing methods include:

  • Sputtering
  • Etching
  • Powder coating
  • Anodizing
  • Painting
  • Plating
  • Tumbling
  • Sandblasting
  • Wire brushing

Partner With USTEK Incorporated

Aluminum will continue to be a material of choice for different industries due to its excellent properties. At USTEK, we deliver efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and timeliness for all our customers. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you source aluminum and aluminum alloy parts to meet your needs and specifications.

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