Aluminium is the third most abundant metal in the earth’s crust and at the present rate of usage (not taking into account the fact that more than 96% of aluminium is recycled at the end of product life), the supplies of aluminium currently known will last for several hundred years. Discovered in 1808 by Sir Humphrey Davy, aluminium is a comparatively young metal compared to other “classic” materials. In 1855 the first aluminium bar was displayed at the Paris Exhibition and it wasn’t until 1886 when the patents for its industrial extraction were issued. The Statue of Eros at Piccadilly Circus in London dates back to 1893 and is an early example of how aluminium could be processed. A further example is the San Giacchino Church in Rome which was built in 1897. The aluminium sheets used to cover the roof are still in excellent condition today – proving that aluminium has exceptional weathering properties and durability.
Aluminium as a building material – functional, durable and aesthetically appealing
In the building industry aluminium is often used for facade claddings and roof coverings. The decision to use aluminium is based on economical, functional and aesthetical considerations. From airports, railway stations, sports complexes to stylish residential properties – many of these buildings have only been able to reveal their true “personality” through the use of aluminium.
Material characteristics which are important in the building industry – seven good reasons for choosing aluminium:
1. Lightweight: this means lightweight substructures and a high level of component prefabrication. It can be handled on-site without the need for large lifting equipment.
2. Corrosion resistance: bespoke alloys improve the outstanding resistance to corrosion even further. This makes it possible to use aluminium profiled sheets on a long-term basis without expensive servicing and maintenance work, even in extreme conditions.
3. Robust: the incredible strength of the material makes it possible to create light yet exceptionally stable structures.
4. Excellent processibility: its flexibility and ease of formability guarantee virtually unlimited design potential. It can be shaped, welded, screwed and cut into dynamic 3-D geometries.
5. Simple connection technology: in addition to the most common joining methods used in the building industry, such as welding, screwing and riveting, snap-on connections can also be used. These simple methods ensure that building components can be quickly and safely connected.
6. Recyclable: aluminium roof and facade components can usually be recycled in a single process and 95% of energy can be saved when recycling aluminium compared to primary production.
7. Stunning aesthetics: the wide variety of surface finishes and colours available, such as anodizing or coating, ensures that the high aesthetic demands made by architects can be fulfilled and the application potential of aluminium can be extended even further.