Engineering Tips:

 
Pros and Cons of Aluminum
 
 
 

Aluminum is an excellent material for machine components, offering many beneficial characteristics. Let's review the advantages and disadvantages of this metal that affect it's appropriateness in various machine design applications.

The disadvantages of aluminum make for a short list:

  • more rare and more expensive than steel
  • abrasive to tooling, or more accurately, the aluminum oxide coating that forms upon it is
  • prone to severe spring back
  • requires special processes to be welded

On the plus side, there is a lot to recommend the use of aluminum parts:

Corrosion-resistant. Aluminum oxidizes quickly, and the resulting surface coat of aluminum oxide resists further corrosion, by air, water, and chemicals. This protective coating is clear, colorless, and non-staining.

Colorable: Aluminum can be easily colored by anodization, and holds paint extremely well. Aluminum can be finished in various ways.

The GN 565.2 angled cabinet U-handle on the right is shown in the version with a black powder coated finish, but is also available in bright tumbled finish or natural anodized.

GN 525.2

Lightweight: Aluminum weighs about a third of what steel does. That makes it inexpensive to ship and can also contribute to making a lighter machine when that is desirable.

Economical. Although we stated above that aluminum is not the cheapest material, it is still more economical than brass or stainless steel, so is often the best option for non-corrosive applications.

Strong: Aluminum has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal.

The GN 322 two-spoked handwheel on the right benefits from all these characteristics.

GN 322

Electrically conductive. Aluminum conducts electricity even better than copper.

Non-magnetic: For applications where magnetism needs to be avoided, aluminum is an excellent choice.

Recyclable: Aluminum is 100% recyclable without losing any of its natural characteristics.

Pictured to the right are our aluminum ALCK control knob with handle and GN 744 fluid level sight glass, more examples of the many aluminum components we offer.

ALK

If you're in the market for aluminum parts, contact our Technical Sales Associates at 800-877-8351 and we'll be happy to assist you in your search.

GN 744
 

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