The Wonder Alloy: A Discussion about Aluminum in the Philippines
There are many kinds of metals and alloys that are used in the Philippines. Aluminum is just one of them, however, it may as well be the most used among all of the other metals and alloys. Aluminum in the Philippines is not restricted to industrial or commercial use. It is used in almost all walks of life. Even in the Philippines, aluminum windows are numerous and can be found in almost all households in the Metro. This is because of all of its properties and great versatility among all the other metals.
It might sound assuming to say that aluminum is such a wonderful metal that its versatility reaches no limits, however, this article will discuss exactly how that came to be.
The Fundamentals of Aluminum
Aluminum is a silvery-white metal and the 13th element in the periodic table. It is one of the most plentiful elements on earth, with only oxygen and silicon beating it in abundance. As a sole metal, it easily binds with other elements. Because of this, pure aluminum does not occur naturally. It will usually be found compounded alongside other metals.
As one of the most used metals in the world, second only to iron or steel, aluminum is famous for being very versatile while providing a plethora of beneficial properties that make it an ideal material for many kinds of products. If you consciously try to identify objects that have aluminum in them, you will find that almost everything around you has a portion of aluminum in the Philippines.
From cans, tent pegs, some kitchenware, to airplanes, car bodies, and phone cases, to window frames, railings, and industrial equipment. Aluminum can be found almost everywhere. However, its abundance is not the only reason why it is used in so many ways. It is utilized because of how versatile and applicable it becomes because of the many properties that it exhibits.
Properties of Aluminum
Aluminum is widely used in many things, just as steel is because of how usable it is. Its properties are what makes it truly shine among all the other metals.
- Lightweight – Aluminum is a very light metal. It weighs about a third of steel. It has a very good strength-to-weight ratio, making it ideal for things that need high strength and low weight. In particular, it is widely used for vehicles where low mass results in better load capacity as well as reduced fuel consumption. This also makes aluminum ideal for the frames of airplanes and helicopters because its lightweight property does not undermine the strength of the whole structure.
- Resistance to Corrosion – The metal naturally generates a protective oxide coating around itself when it is exposed to air. This property can still be improved through different types of surface treatments. This property is perfect for applications that are used for conservation and protection of other things such as food and heat-sensitive materials.
- Conductivity – Aluminum is an exceptional conductor of heat and electricity. When compared to copper, its effectiveness as a conductor is about twice as good. Because of its efficiency as a conductor, it is widely used in power transmission lines.
- Reflectivity – Because of the nature of the metal, aluminum is a very good reflector of light and heat. This makes it a very utilized material for reflectors, light fittings, and thermal rescue blankets.
- Ductility – In a molten condition, aluminum can be processed in a number of ways. Because of its ductility, aluminum products can undergo molding relatively near the end of a products production line.
- Non-Toxicity – Aluminum does not contain any kind of toxins, and it also prevents any kind of odors or substances from getting through it. This makes it ideal for packaging sensitive products such as pharmaceuticals, and food.
These are the properties that make aluminum such a good metal. However, it is important to take note that these are the properties that pure aluminum exudes. It goes to a whole new level when aluminum is incorporated into compounds and alloys.
It is no wonder that Aluminum is a very useful metal. Its many properties and abundance make it one of the most used metals in the world. It is important to understand it on a different level, particularly the many applications of aluminum in the Philippines.
Types/Grades of Aluminum
There are many types of aluminum alloys. They are classified under certain grades depending on what the principal alloying element is. Depending on this principle alloying element, the properties, as well as its uses, will become different.
- 1xxx Series – Primarily comprised of 99% aluminum, it has the highest thermal conductivity of any aluminum alloy. Its electrical conductivity is second to the electrical conductor grade. This grade is soft, ductile, and has excellent workability. Other than as a material for conductors, it is primarily used in applications where there is intricate forming because it hardens slowly when compared with other alloys. Common designations in this series are 1100—for food packaging and trays, and 1350—for electrical appliances.
- 2xxx Series – In this series, the principal alloying element is copper. It is also one of the alloys that are heat-treatable. Alloys under this grade have a good combination of high strength and toughness, however, it has a lower level of corrosion resistance that many of the other aluminum alloys have. The most popular among these alloys would be alloy 2024 which is known as aircraft alloy.
- 3xxx Series – The principal alloying element in this series is manganese, with a little bit of magnesium. Due to the nature of the metals, only a limited percentage of manganese can be effectively added to aluminum. This is to preserve the qualities that both metals have. Two of the more popular alloys of this series is 3003, which is popular for general purpose because of its moderate strength and good workability, as well as its potential use in heat exchangers and cooking utensils. The other one is 3004 because of its use in aluminum beverage cans.
- 4xxx Series – These aluminum alloys are combined with silicon which when added in sufficient amounts will lower the melting point of aluminum, without making it brittle. The 4xxx series makes for excellent welding wire and brazing alloys that require lower melting points to be formed. The most used filler alloy for welding 6xxx series alloys for structural and automotive applications is the alloy 4043.
- 5xxx Series – In this series, magnesium is the principal alloying agent. It is one of the most effective and widely used alloying elements for aluminum. Because of the combination of magnesium and aluminum, the alloy has moderate to high strength and is very good when it comes to weldability and corrosion resistance particularly in marine environments. This series is widely used for building and construction, storage tanks, and marine applications. Because of its characteristics, it is popular in many applications. Alloy 5052 is used in electronics, anodized 5005 sheets are for architectural applications, and 5083 is used in marine applications.
- 6xxx Series – another well-rounded alloy, this alloy series contains magnesium silicide, a compound made from silicon and magnesium. It is very versatile, heat treatable, highly formable and weldable, while also having high strength and excellent corrosion resistance. Extrusion products that are part of this series are usually the first choice for architectural and structural applications. Alloy 6061 is a widely used alloy in truck and marine frames. More notably, Apple’s iPhone 6 extrusion was made from this alloy series.
- 7xxx Series – the principle alloy agent for this series is Zinc. When it is paired with a small amount of magnesium, it results in a heat-treatable and very high strength alloy. In some of the alloys in this series, copper and chromium are also added in small amounts. The most common alloys of this series are alloy 7050 and 7075, some of the most used alloys in aircraft.
There are many kinds of aluminum alloys that are used in many different industries. In the Philippines, aluminum profile is something that you’ll see every day. However, you should take note that aluminum is not just something that you’ll find anywhere, but it is also something that you use on a daily basis.
Most Common Uses of Aluminum Products
It’s no secret that aluminum products are used in many consumer goods that people buy and use on a daily basis. However, you might just be surprised as to how widespread its uses really are. From transportation to construction, aluminum in the Philippines is used everywhere.
It was mentioned that aluminum is known for its very good strength to weight ratio. Because of this, it has become a widely used material for vehicles. Aluminum may not be the strongest metal, however, through alloying it with metals, its strength increases, along with its other properties.
In some other countries, aluminum is used in their rail system because of how lightweight it is. High-speed rail systems like the ones in Japan and the Maglev in Shanghai are created with the help of aluminum.
Aluminum is the ideal metal for aircraft. Because of this, it is also known as the “winged metal”. But it doesn’t stop there. In modern times, aluminum alloys are used not just for aircraft, but for spacecraft as well.
When used in construction, aluminum offers incredibly versatile options for architects. Its corrosion resistance makes it almost maintenance free. Aluminum is thermally efficient because it can keep homes warm during cold seasons and cool during summer. Its flexibility also makes it a dream material for modern architects to shape into whatever they want.
As mentioned in this article, aluminum is an incredible conductor. As compared to copper which is the best metal for conductivity, aluminum’s low density makes it better for long distance power lines. Aluminum is also used in motors, appliances, power systems, TV antennae, and satellite dishes are also made with aluminum.
The Importance of Aluminum
In the Philippines, aluminum is a widely used in almost all industries. It can be found in cars and buses that travel the roads, it can be seen in aircraft that fly across the sky, and simply enough, it can be seen in cans of soda you buy in convenience stores.
Aluminum in the Philippines is considered a necessary metal since it can be found everywhere. It has been incorporated into the lifestyle of everyone, even all of the other countries.
Without aluminum, the landscape of the whole world will probably be different. That is how relevant aluminum is to the world today.
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