Aluminium, Characteristics, general Uses and Drawbacks

Published: 24th January 2011
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Aluminum is one of the most abundant elements on earth and the most abundant natural metal around. Making up over eight percent of the earthís crust, only oxygen and nitrogen are more abundant. This makes it one of the most widely used materials in the field of metallurgy, being either alloyed with different metals to form stronger substances or used in pure form.

There are many good characteristics that make aluminum a remarkable material. It has a low density and high resistance to corrosion. Aluminumís natural adeptness to passivation (the process of scraping a layer of oxide on a metal surface) prevents rust from forming. It is normally soft, ductile and malleable, making it easy to be mixed up with other metals and be formed into pure threads or metal sheets.

With these characteristics, aluminum is generally used in creating castings, tubes and expanses for vehicles such as aircraft and marine vessels, making cans for packaging of preserved food and beverages, construction materials for windows and wires, making kitchen utensils and many more. This metal is so widely used that almost all metallic objects that are useful to man may contain a fraction of it.

Aluminum is most useful if alloyed with other metals. Although it has great uses when pure, aluminium alloys create new substances that have outstanding uses. For example, mixing aluminum with copper, manganese and magnesium will form a powerful substance called "duralinum". This alloy is the best material used to create extrusions for aircraft fittings, sheets and plates for aerospace application and a lot more.

Another powerful alloy is aluminum mixed with bronze and copper forming aluminium bronze. This type of bronze has an empowered resistance to corrosion, making it a perfect metal for equipment used in general activities where seawater is abundant, landing gear components for aircrafts structural retrofit building applications and the like. Some countries even use this alloy for making monetary coins.

However, despite its abundant use, aluminum is found with health-threatening characteristics at high concentration levels. Aluminum is a natural competitor of calcium, which replacement of high amount of calcium in the body can lead to weakening of bones. It can also cause some skin allergies by excessive exposures and internal digestive irregularities by intake. This is the reason why creating aluminium alloys should follow extensive safety procedure.

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