Designing Aluminum Structures

Association of Construction and Development
June 10, 2013 — 1,470 views  

There was a time when aluminum was considered such an expensive metal that its rates were quoted in ounces rather than in Pounds or Kilograms. However, if you were to look at cities in any first world or developing country, you are likely to see thousands of aluminum structures lining the skyline. Studies have shown that over 3 billion pounds of aluminum are now used in the United States’ construction projects every year. The metal has a number of advantages as compared to many other construction metals and we will explore all of these further.

Aluminum Attributes

Now considered to be one of the most useful metals for construction, aluminum structures are one of the common types of buildings you are likely to see. The cost for extrusion is minimal when compared to other robust metals and the metal being squeezed through an opening performs the process. This forms a forged member with the required custom cross section. Regular shapes of aluminum beams are easily and readily available at many construction material stores. Carbon steel and stainless steel shapes can also be extruded, but the presses required for these metals are much larger and harder to come by.

Although aluminum is considered to be a lightweight metal, the strength of the metal is commendable. It is one of the most trusted varieties of metal in the construction business despite that it is not really heavy to lift. The lack of variance as a result of alloy is another factor that makes aluminum structures a popular choice. The fact that the quality and robustness of the metal does not deteriorate to any significant amount, is one of the key reasons why a large number of construction professionals choose to work with aluminum.

However, all these reasons for which aluminum structures are so popular in today’s world are dwarfed by the fact that aluminum is also one of the most corrosion-resistant metals that you are likely to find.

What to Consider Techniques and Advantages

There are certain techniques and construction methods that should be considered when it comes to aluminum structures. For instance, bare aluminum should not be embedded in concrete, as the masonry is likely to absorb moisture on a regular basis, which will then lead to corrosion over time. If it must be used in these circumstances, the metal has to be coated with some kind of protective layer. Another piece of construction equipment that aluminum must not come in contact with is treated wood. The chemical levels of the wood will severely affect the condition of the metal – causing it to deteriorate quickly.

The use of aluminum in construction should be strongly considered for structures that previously used steel, structures with long spans, structures located in zones known to be seismically active, and structures that require the use of complex cross sections.

All in all, aluminum is one of the best options when it comes to choosing metals for the use of construction. You should not be fooled by the fact that it is light and easy to carry. The weight to strength ratio of this metal is only comparable to wood. Additionally, the fact that it has a long life, when used with the right construction techniques, means that it can be trusted to serve its purpose for a long time in a variety of aluminum structures.

Association of Construction and Development