6 Advantages of Aluminum Sheet Metal Fabrication

February 10, 2022

Custom aluminum fabrication is used in the production of a substantial range of products around the world. Well-regarded for its many favorable mechanical and chemical properties, aluminum fabricated products are essential to nearly every industrial sector. It is widely used in metal fabrication projects in such industries as transportation, construction, manufacturing, food and beverage, consumer durable goods, and electrical to name a few.

There’s no doubt that aluminum is an exceptionally versatile metal. Its many favorable properties make it ideal for use in numerous custom fabrication projects. The material can be formed, cast, cut, joined, melted, machined, and extruded into a variety of complex shapes and geometries for manufacture. In fact, aluminum sheet metal is used in the fabrication of all too familiar products such as vehicle and aircraft body panels, cookware and appliances, structural sidings, roofing, and gutters, digital displays, electrical and electronic housings, medical carts, screen doors, various tools, and countless other applications.

Derived from common stock material, aluminum is formed into flat sheets by methods of rolling, extrusion, or hammering. Once formed, sheet metal is classified by its thickness or gauge. Flat sheet metal stock ranges between 0.006 and 0.25 inches thick, with thinner sheets classified as foil and thicker ones as plates.

As with any custom sheet metal fabrication project, aluminum sheet metal fabrication is a manufacturing process used to manipulate or shape aluminum sheet metal stock to create the desired part, component, or end product. The manufacturing process may include selective removal of material and/or reshaping it without losing any volume.

As a material, aluminum’s popularity in large part is derived from a number of advantages it holds for fabricators. Lightweight and versatile, here are 6 primary advantages of aluminum to consider when researching materials for your fabrication project:

1. Lightweight

Aluminum is a lightweight metal with a density of only 2.7 kg per dm3. Comparatively, that’s almost three times lighter than the density of any steel. In fact, though steel is heavier and stronger than aluminum, aluminum has a better strength-to-weight ratio than steel. For application in the automotive and aerospace industries, its lightweight combined with its strength-to-weight ratio combines to reduce dead-weight and energy consumption in vehicles and airplanes while increasing load capacity. Various alloying elements—silicon, tin, manganese, copper, or tin, for example—can improve the material’s strength or ease of formability while still retaining its lightweight.

2. Non-Ferromagnetic

Unlike other metal materials, aluminum has non-ferromagnetic properties; meaning, it does not cause any magnetic interference. This unique characteristic makes aluminum a valuable and important material for fabricating parts and components used in applications in electrical and electronic products.

3. Corrosion Resistant

Aluminum has corrosion-resistant properties by nature. A protective aluminum oxide coating is generated whenever the material surface is exposed to an oxidizing environment. A chemical process produces a thin layer of aluminum oxide that forms on the surface to protect the metal from corrosion. With additional surface treatments as anodizing or powder coating, corrosion resistance of the metal can be further increased.

4. Durability

Aluminum is an exceptionally durable material due in large part to its combination of corrosion resistance and strength-to-weight ratio. These properties make it extremely resistant to any wear and tear. It can withstand high-temperature environments as well as corrosive chemical ones, too. Aluminum fabricated products can be engineered to be as strong as steel when needed. Its natural corrosion resistance ensures that any part, component, or product made of aluminum will have a long lifespan.

5. Electrical and Thermal Conductivity

Although aluminum is non-ferromagnetic, it is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. And though not as conductive as copper, its use in electrical applications is compensated by aluminum’s lightweight. It is only about a third of copper’s weight by comparison. In terms of electrical resistance, wire fabricated from aluminum requires only half the weight of a copper wire to achieve the same amount of electrical resistance. As an excellent conductor of heat, custom aluminum fabricated products are used for such applications as LED lights, electrical housings, and computer motherboards.

6. Recyclable

Even after years of use, because aluminum retains all of its original properties, it is 100% recyclable. During production, using recycled aluminum sheet metal in custom fabrication is also more cost-effective than mined metal out of the ground.

To learn more about our metal fabrication capabilities, please contact us at Quest-Tech today.