Aluminum is literally all around us. It is reportedly the most abundant metal on the Earth’s surface. It is even the third most plentiful element (after oxygen and silicon) Being light in weight, it did not sink so far into the Earth’s crust back in time when our planet was being formed. We have had our stone age, bronze age, iron age and even (I suppose) our steel age. Additionally, gold and silver were well known and used in ancient times. But where was the aluminum age?
Despite being easy to access, aluminum reacts very well with other elements and there are virtually no natural deposits of pure aluminum. The aluminum in the ground is normally only found in combination with over 270 different minerals. The most commonly found aluminum ore is known as bauxite and the reason why the ancients didn’t develop it is that it is difficult to refine the aluminum out of the bauxite.
The chemistry is somewhat complex but, suffice to say, most methods for extracting aluminum require large amounts of electrical power. Which was, of course, not available to earlier ages and, even after its discovery, electricity can be expensive to consume. Electricity costs represent between 20 to 40% of the cost involved in running an aluminum smelter. For this reason, the major smelting plants are located in areas of cheaper electricity supply.
However, once aluminum did become available in commercially viable quantities, all sorts of people found all sorts of uses for this light weight material that does not corrode easily and has reasonable strength. Aluminum is a very ductile metal which makes it relatively easy to form into any number of shapes. Much of the aluminum used today is shaped by extruding billets into such shapes as Aluminum Flat Bar, channels, rod, tube, etc.
When Buying Aluminum Flat Bar
Flat bar means that the aluminum has not been extruded into a round or channelled cross sectional shape and is either square or rectangular. However, its width is much narrower than the wider material sold as plate. Bar can be cut from rolled, wrought or cast plate but it is usually supplied as an extruded length with the required width and depth dimensions.
As well as telling your supplier the quantity and dimension of Aluminum Flat Bar required, you will also need to specify the grade of aluminum. Totally pure aluminum has few uses and the material is usually used in alloyed form. There are different alloys for different application use. The different types are listed and codified in standards such as ASTM B221-08, B221M-07 or, B308 / B308M – 10 Standard Specification for Aluminum-Alloy 6061-T6, etc which cover, dimensional, physical and chemical composition properties for Aluminum Flat Bar and other forms. If you do not know your spec, then a good supplier will assist you in your choice.
The best way to purchase Aluminum Flat Bar is from a well stocked, reputable distributor. A company like Howard Precision Metals Inc. will serve you well in this respect. Take a look at the website for more details.
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