Everyday Aluminum: Construction

Last time, we spoke with how extruded aluminum has brought a new level of innovation and safety to the automotive industry. This time, we’re going to explore how aluminum has helped provide savings and improved the integration and strength of the construction industry.

Aluminum extrusion has quickly become an important feature in the construction industry because of the cost benefits and structural integrity. From aesthetics to complex shapes to be able to support the weight of the construction, extruded aluminum can be exploited for numerous construction materials.

The Extrusion Process

Extrusion is a process of shaping molten materials, such as metals or plastics, by forcing them through shaped dies at high pressure. Because of the flexibility of the process, there are numerous ways to perform an extrusion, including hot and cold, continuous or semi-continuous.

Think of it this way, imagine a pasta machine; the dough is prepared and then sent through a press, which emits long, continuous strands of spaghetti (or the noodle of your choice). Metal and plastic extrusion is a very similar process. The material is brought to molten temperatures and then forced through a die at high pressure either through hydraulic or mechanical power. The difference between continuous and semi-continuous is that continuous will continue to go to create one long, continuous section until the piece is done. Semi-continuous means that the press will cut off the pieces pushed through the extruder one by one and sent further down the assembly line for cleaning and finishing.

Extruded Aluminum in Construction

The versatility of extruded aluminum applies to both application and production. Manufacturing extruded aluminum can be done through any process, doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold, continuous or semi-continuous.

During Chicago’s renovation of their famed business district, locally known as “The Loop” construction companies employed over a million tons in extruded aluminum parts and frameworks.

Extruded aluminum is not just limited to exterior design and function, either. Lighting fixtures, elevator shafts, and stairwells all employ different applications. While aluminum can’t make up the basic skeleton of a building, it accents and aids the structure in the interior. Integrated extruded aluminum design features in almost all areas of building construction, including structural, mechanical, and many others.

Finally, the fact that aluminum is one of the most recyclable metals on the planet has made this metal very easy to re-use. In fact, this high level of sustainability has made it part of LEED building certification.

How does your business use extruded aluminum? Let us know in the comments below!

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