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The Strength of Aluminum

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Aluminum

When we compare aluminum to steel, we will always consider steel to be the stronger metal. It is, generally speaking, but some aluminum alloys can be stronger than steel, and aluminum being less dense than steel, they are lighter too. The density of aluminum is about one third that of steel, which gives it the relative lightness that makes this metal ideal for aircraft parts, for example. However, its lightness does not affect its strength.

Iron is the most widely used metal on the planet, used extensively in steel making, but aluminum is the second most used metal. It is usually employed as an alloy, a mixture of aluminum and some other metal, rather than the pure aluminum metal. Metals and compounds that are commonly used to make alloys include iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, zinc and silicon. These metals may be used alone, or combined in varying degrees, and can make up as much as 15% of the final alloy by weight.

To create an aluminum alloy, which will have a greater strength than the pure aluminum, it is necessary to thoroughly mix the metals and compounds when they are all in a liquid molten state. The process needs to be closely monitored, and the percentages of the different metals must be kept precise and to a recognizable standard. In this way, all aluminum alloys of any given type will be identical wherever they might be found.

Some aluminum alloys can be strengthened even more by heat treating. The solid alloyed metal is heated to a certain point. This causes the elements of the alloy, known as solute, to be homogeneously distributed with the aluminum, which puts them in a solid solution. At this point the alloyed metal is rapidly cooled, often cold water is used, and this ‘freezes’ the atoms of the solute in place, resulting in a stronger structure.

aluminum_texture

Other aluminum alloys can be strengthened by cold treatment. Rolling or forging treatments can result in the original alloy becoming significantly stronger than the original. This happens because the atoms of the alloyed metal are effectively squeezed together, making the alloy denser and considerably stronger. Heat treatable and no-heat treatable aluminum alloys can be strengthened to various degrees, depending on the eventual use of the alloy.

The weight of a metal or substance has little bearing on its strength. Diamond, for example, is extremely strong, but relatively lightweight. Lead and gold, on the other hand, are both very heavy, but they are also very soft metals with little integral strength. Aluminum is one of the lightest metals, but also one of the strongest, and when mixed with certain other metals to create an alloy, it can be very nearly as strong as certain types of steel.

Aluminum is a non-ferrous metal, which means it will not rust. Aluminum is also non-magnetic, and it is extremely durable.

We decided to use aluminum for building our Windmill Ceiling Fans, because of the durability, ease of design, strength, and more. Aluminum is not only a good metal for producing the fans, but it can also be altered for specific design needs. 

You may find the following article interesting: Using Metals in Your Home Decor

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