Advantages of Aluminium

By August 11, 2015 Blog No Comments

Advantages and disadvantages of aluminium compared with other materials


  • The term steel is used to denote metallic alloys whose main constituent is iron and which (in contrast to cast iron) can be reworked and reformed.
  • The term plastic is used to denote an organic, polymeric solid which is manufactured synthetically or semi-synthetically from monomeric organic molecules or biopolymers.
  • The term wood is used in general parlance to denote the solid or hard tissue of the shoots (trunk, boughs and branches) of trees and shrubs. Wood is the world’s most important raw material.
Aluminium Steel Plastic Wood
Durability ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★
Formability ★★★★
Very high
Dependent on the alloy:
Hardness low tensile strength, lack of hardenability in stainless steel.
Very high tensile strength, wear resistance and endurance strength.
★★Poor, but as an injection moulding any form can be taken.
Depending on the type of plastic hard, elastic, break-proof, heat-resistant and chemically resistant.
Strength and rigidity lower than that of metals. Can by partly compensated for by greater wall thicknesses or fibre reinforcement

Very low
Working ★★★★
Can be worked in a wide variety of ways: drawing, pressing, cutting, lasering, grinding.
It can be machined down, cold-worked and easily welded.
Ideal extruding and casting properties.
★★★ ★★★
While metals are worked at high temperatures, complicated moulded parts can be made from plastic comparatively easily with minimal effort
Classic machining by sawing, grinding and planing.
Moisture ★★★★
Very weather-proof. Aluminium is not subject to “rust”. Water-vapour-proof
Stainless (special) steel is insensitive, no rust will occur with fully hot-dip galvanised steels too. Vapour permeability equals zero
Plastics are moisture-resistant and can be designed to be completely vapour-impermeable

Air-permeable, absorbs moisture, no vapour barrier
Temperature ★★★★
Ideal for low-temperature conditions in that it retains its toughness and its hardness even increases.
The melting point is much higher than that of aluminium. Also stable at low temperatures

Regular plastics are not fireproof, melt and burn quickly. Plastics quickly become brittle at low temperatures.
Wood cannot withstand high temperatures, but is stable at low temperatures
Heat conduction Very good, therefore suitable for applications in which heat has to be removed. Moderate Very low, thus good insulating property Very low, thus good insulating property
Current conductivity Very good Moderate Not Not
Hygiene aspects ★★★★
Very easy to clean with cleaning agents, acids, bases, solvents and steam.
Non-toxic and hygienic.
Very easy to clean with cleaning agents, acids, bases, solvents and steam.
Easy to clean with cleaning agents. Sensitive to acids, bases, solvents and steam/heat.

Hard to clean due to the rough surface.
Ageing, corrosion ★★★★
Insensitive to weather exposure.
UV-resistant, corrosion-resistant oxide layer.
Only stainless steel (as opposed to steel) and surface-treated steel is relatively resistant to corrosion and acids.

Most plastics are sensitive to solvents. Weather exposure and especially UV light cause plastics to become brittle, fade and age.

As a natural material not very resistant to ageing: rots, decays, breaks
Ecology ★★
High energy utilisation when producing aluminium, but 100% recyclable
Extracting metal by mining not quite as critical as aluminium

Based on the increasingly scarce and expensive raw material crude oil and is only recyclable to a limited extent
Non-critical, since it is a reproductive raw material which can be recycled or burned. Neutral CO2 balance
Advantages – containers and logistics equipment

Aluminium containers:
Stable, lightweight and yet long-lasting containers
Sheet-steel containers:
Stable and long-lasting, but roughly twice as heavy as similar aluminium containers
Plastic containers:
Many different shapes and colours possible  and lower operating temperature range
Wooden containers:
Advantages in part due to the natural appearance. Solid and cheap.
Advantages – ladders and access equipment Aluminium ladders:
Lightweight and durable with at the same time a small amount of input material
Steel ladders :
Heavy and stable and thus particularly suitable for fixed ladders
Plastic ladders:
Lightweight, break-proof and particularly suitable for working on electrical installations
Wooden ladders:
Natural appearance, solid and cheap, special shapes barely possible

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