Aluminum is the material of the future. Lightweight and incredibly strong, aluminum can be used in such diverse applications as lightweight foil products and automobile engines. While aluminum is a widely used product for both home and industrial use, it has a great many potential uses which are beginning to be explored. Clinton Aluminum describes some of the best uses of aluminum products in manufacturing, ranging from the automotive industry to aerospace and consumer electronics.
The growth in electric vehicles is one important factor in aluminum’s prominence in the automotive industry. CRU, a metal industry consultant, predicts that the demand for the material from hybrid and electric vehicles will increase tenfold to 10 million tons by 2030. Electric vehicles are optimized to be as light as possible while retaining the strength of steel. Using aluminum in place of steel can make a vehicle strong while keeping the weight down. When an electric car manufacturer is looking for a plug-in vehicle with a battery charge that can last as long as possible, they turn to aluminum as a construction material.
The electric Volkswagen Golf uses 129 kilograms of aluminum, while the Nissan Leaf uses 171 kilograms. The Tesla Model S uses 661 kilograms of aluminum. It follows that the most advanced among today’s electric vehicles uses the most aluminum.
Aluminum products have been used in vehicle production for the past twenty years, primarily in engine and power train applications, as well as wheels. These parts are cast and extruded. Advances in aluminum production have resulted in new strengths of aluminum sheets which rival steel in their strength and workability. Using these new aluminum sheets means that cars can keep their weight down while retaining the same level of passenger safety.
The aerospace industry has relied on aluminum since its beginnings. As far back as the 19th century, aluminum was used in zeppelin construction. The first modern aircraft employed aluminum in their engines. The Boeing 737 is comprised of 80 percent aluminum.
Satellites and spacecraft have used aluminum due to its strength, lighter weight, and ability to withstand the most extreme conditions from liftoff to orbit. Aluminum is mainly used in the fuselage, wings, and support structure.
NASA’s next-generation Orion rocket and crew capsule use a new aluminum-lithium alloy. Aluminum has properties which make it strong in the face of subzero temperatures in orbit.
Consumer electronics which most people use every day also contain aluminum. Aluminum alloys make cell phones, laptops, and tablets strong and lightweight. In the case of cell phones, aluminum also improves the antenna capability, giving stronger reception and better call quality.
In a modern cell phone, aluminum is mostly used in the outer casing. It provides a smooth, attractive cover for the phone while increasing its strength and durability. Aluminum also reinforces the “safety cell,” or the area of the phone where the most important components are located. This means that phones will be more likely to survive dropping and other trauma.
Aluminum is also used as part of the internal operating structures of a cell phone, laptop, or tablet. Important parts inside the device are made of aluminum because it has superior conductivity and strength.
Aluminum is the Future
Aluminum has a diverse range of applications, taking advantage of its strength, light weight, and special capabilities. Aluminum is an important part of automobile manufacturing, especially where electric vehicles are concerned. As vehicles become more efficient and carry less weight, the battery will be able to provide longer rides between charges.
In aerospace applications, aluminum is indispensable. New alloys are providing crucial components of spacecraft. Consumer electronics also benefit from the use of aluminum, providing lightweight strength with greater signal conductivity. Aluminum will continue to be an important construction material in these high-tech fields for years to come.
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