Aluminum is the most common metal in the earth's crust. Despite its frequent occurrence, it was only discovered as a metal in the first half of the 19th century. It has been used as technical material since the second half of the 19th century. Because of its specific properties and abundant resources, aluminum is an important industrial metal of the present day.
The silvery-white light metal is ignoble and reacts on fresh cut edges with air and water to aluminum oxide, which immediately creates an impermeable layer and thus protects the aluminum from corrosion.
Pure aluminum has only low strength, which is only significantly increased by alloys. The thermal and electrical conductivity is very high, which is why aluminum is often used for heat exchangers and thin cables.
Aluminum is produced in two different kinds of processes: In the so-called primary production process, aluminum oxide is extracted from bauxite, an aluminum ore, in a chemical-mechanical process. Pure aluminum is then produced from the aluminum oxide by fused-salt electrolysis. A great deal of energy and material is used in the primary production of aluminum. Approximately 13.5 kWh of energy is used to produce 1 kg of aluminum - considerably more than for steel (blast furnace route: approx. 5.6 kWh/kg).
The second production process for aluminum, on the other hand, consumes only a fraction - namely 5% - of the energy required for primary production. Aluminum scrap is used - and recycled - for so-called secondary aluminum. There are no qualitative differences in aluminum depending on the manufacturing process. However, sufficient quantities of aluminum scrap are a prerequisite for the recycling of aluminum.
If necessary, the liquid aluminum is alloyed and then often cast into ingots (small, easily transportable bars) or directly into cast molds. The ingots are further processed into semi-finished products, or so-called "formats", such as rolled or round ingots, in a remelting process. In a further step, rolling ingots are used to roll out aluminum strip, which is then processed into sheet metal.
Aluminum is characterized by low weight (density 2.70 g/cm³), very good thermal conductivity, and a low melting point. The base metal is harmless to human health. Aluminum alloys can be produced very soft to very hard, so that they can be used in many areas of application due to their optimum machinability.
The metal is mainly used in traffic engineering (production of aircraft, automobiles, locomotives and ships), packaging, building construction, mechanical engineering, and as metallic decorative applications in interior design and product design.
The range of industries in which aluminum is used is diverse:
- Mechanical engineering/apparatus engineering
- Construction industry
- Compressed air tanks
- Packaging industry
Advantages / Features
- Good formability in both cold and warm condition
- High thermal and electrical conductivity
- Magnetic neutrality
- Excellent tensile strength
- Very light-weight - compared to steel, aluminum is only half as heavy for the same strength (but has a larger volume)
- Can be recycled as often as required without loss of quality
- Energy consumption during recycling only 5 to 10 % of primary production process
XOM Materials currently offers the following types of aluminum sheet:
- EN AW-1050 (Al99.5) (3.0255)
- EN AW-5754 (AlMg3) (3.3535)
- EN AW 5005A (AlMg1 C) (3.3535)