Why Designers Are Using More Aluminum Than Ever

Aluminum is the metal of the future.  Not only is it environmentally-friendly, it’s lightweight, naturally corrosive resistant and, thanks to new heating, cooling and aging treatments, stronger than ever.

The Aluminum Association and the Aluminum Extruders Council report that domestic use of aluminum extrusions has grown for the sixth consecutive year and now represents nearly a quarter (22%) of North America’s total aluminum market.

Designer Engineers Using Aluminum Extrusions

While the building and construction industry continues to dominate aluminum extrusion use, as more design engineers and product designers learn of the almost limitless design possibilities when working with aluminum extrusions, industry use has expanded.

Here are seven industries where aluminum is taking center stage:

Aerospace Industry

Aluminum has been an essential component of the aerospace market since its beginning–the original Wright brothers’ model used aluminum parts in the engine to reduce weight. Today, aluminum makes up 75-80% of the modern aircraft and is often chosen for structural and engine use due to its lightweight, but durable qualities. Aluminum has also been one of the main components in many space vehicles.

Transportation Industry

The transportation industry is the second largest user of aluminum extrusions, and growing.  From Ford to Audi to Mercedes Benz, automotive engineers and designers continue to find ways to replace steel components with aluminum to improve fuel efficiency & enhance performance. According to the Wall Street Journal, auto makers plan to strip out anywhere from 250 to 700 pounds per vehicle to achieve the government’s 7- 20% fuel-usage reduction mandate.

Building Products Industry

Unlike steel, aluminum can be extruded into elaborate designs and manufactured to meet stringent building product specifications—helping drive its use in many residential and commercial building products.  From windows, doors, atriums and skylights, to ramps, balconies, and various roofing designs, architects are turning to aluminum to build green, sustainable buildings that will stand the test of time.

Consumer Products Industry

Since it was first introduced into washers and dryers, aluminum extrusions have revolutionized the home appliance market, making air conditioning systems and refrigerators more energy efficient than ever before. Today, many of our everyday items including fitness and sporting equipment and furniture incorporate aluminum extrusions.

Electronics Industry

Today, extruded aluminum is used in a number of electrical and electronic appliances. Given its unique electric and thermal conductivity properties, custom aluminum extrusions are often used for motor housings, high‑dissipation heat sinks and interior frames. In some cases, the complete product casing is designed using aluminum, as can be found with many laptops, the Apple iPhone and iPad, and HDTVs.

Lighting Industry

Due to aluminum’s thermal conductivity, engineers are able to design complete extruded LED light fixtures that transfer and dissipate heat for optimal thermal efficiency. Additionally, extrusion dies are relatively inexpensive and extrusions’ ability to be easily cut, formed, bent, machined, and finished with anodizing or painting make them ideal for high-efficiency lighting. According to the Aluminum Extruders Council, “The potential for growth in extruded aluminum use for LED light fixtures/housings in all market areas is virtually limitless…”

Solar Products Industry

When it comes to solar power, proper mounting and racking of panels is essential to quality and performance. As a cost-effective alternative to steel, aluminum extrusions offer the strength needed to stand up to natural elements such as snow and wind, without adding weight, making it ideal for roof mounted panels and building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) systems.

Interested in using aluminum extrusion manufacturing to improve your product? Vitex supports a variety of industries with world-class aluminum extrusion manufacturing, fabrication and supply chain services. Contact us today for a free design review or production estimate.