It has been called the 'magical' metal or the 'miraculous' metal because of its chemical and physical properties, as well as for the broad range of mechanical characteristics that can be achieved with modern aluminium alloys.
Aluminium has an exceptionally broad range of abilities, properties, physical, chemical and mechanical characteristics, which are manifested through an extensive number of alloys.
Briefly on aluminium:
- Very low specific weight. About 1/3 of iron.
- It can be easily shaped, rolled, drawn, extruded, welded and therefore it is the ideal metal for construction. Its module of elasticity (70.000MPa) is 3 times lower than of iron. Under load conditions, an aluminium structure has 3 times greater elastic elongation than an iron one.
- Aluminium and most of its alloys range from resistant to very resistant against various forms of corrosion. Due to its close chemical affinity with oxygen, the metal’s physical surface is permanently covered with a layer of aluminium oxide, which is a very effective way of preventing further corrosion. It is this property that makes it popular with construction, marine engineering and the transportation industry (automobiles, trains, aircrafts). Its near-to-zero maintenance cost in combination with its low specific weight, make aluminium the ideal choice.
- Aluminium is a good thermal and electrical conductor.
- It cannot be magnetized or burnt, properties which are considered quite essential for special applications, such as in Electronics and marine constructions (oil platforms).
- It is non-toxic when it comes in contact with food (reasonable toxicity range), while as a protective film it demonstrates very low permeability, properties that have made it the raw material for food packaging and, in particular, for flexible multi-layered packages (e.g. polyester, aluminium, polyethylene).
- High diffuse reflectivity (albedo) and low secondary heat emission factor. These 2 properties render it necessary for a 'cold' outer shell for new buildings that are built for the service industry (office buildings, public buildings in general,and industrial buildings) as well as energy re-classification of old 'energy hungry' buildings.