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All About Aluminum

aluminum art
Aluminum Ghost | by ben.hollis via Flickr

As an all-under-one-roof metal fabricator, stainless steel may make up the bulk of what we use to fabricate products, but aluminum plays an important part in our business as well. However, aluminum is quite different than stainless steel, and requires different processes and treatment in order to create a finished item that meets customer requirements.

What is aluminum?

If you are able to remember back to your high school chemistry class, you may recall that aluminum is an element (one sometimes spelled “aluminium,” for those on the other side of The Pond). It can be found on the periodic table as the symbol “Al.” Although it is the most common metal element in the earth’s crust, it doesn’t naturally occur “in the wild” as the metal we know.

Who discovered aluminum?

Aluminum is considered one of the newest metals to be discovered. Aluminum was given its name in 1808 by English chemist Humphry Davy who discovered that it could be produced by electrolytic reduction from alumina (aluminum oxide). Unfortunately for Davy, he was never able to reproduce his theory in practice. However, in 1825, aluminum was produced by Danish chemist Hans Christian Orsted, although it wasn’t isolated as an element until 1827, by Friedrich Wohler. It took Wohler another 18 years of work to be able to consistently produce small pieces of solidified aluminum, called “globules.”

How did aluminum gain popularity?

Once Wohler learned how to produce solidified aluminum, French chemist Henri-Etienne Sainte-Claire Deville improved upon the process and created the first industrial application of aluminum with his partners in 1856. Even then, however, aluminum was very expensive to produce, making it a metal used more for ornamentation than industrial purposes. This all changed 30 years later, when a more cost-efficient electrolytic production method — the Hall-Héroult process — was discovered in 1886.

The one downside of the Hall-Héroult method was the massive amounts of electricity required to make it work. Luckily, this issue was put to rest by Karl Joseph Bayer just three years later in 1889, when he invented an inexpensive process of making aluminum oxide (alumina), which became the new standard raw material for the production of aluminum.  

Want to learn more about aluminum? Come back next week and check out part two of our blog!

 

About EVS Metal

EVS Metal is an American precision metal fabricator headquartered in Riverdale, NJ. We utilize the latest technology to cut, bend, weld and finish stand-alone items as well as parts for integration or assembly into more complex products. Our four ISO 9001:2015-certified metal fabrication facilities comprise over 250,000 square feet of vertically-integrated manufacturing space and feature the most modern equipment available, from welding robots and laser cutting solutions to automated powder coating lines.

We serve a diverse customer base across North America, providing a range of services from ITAR-compliant, quick-turn prototypes to high-volume production runs. Request a personalized metal fabrication quote online, or call (973) 839-4432 to speak with a specialist today.

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