The Usage of Aluminium in Architecturals

The Usage of Aluminium in Architecturals

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Aluminium is an abundantly available material with an exceptional wealth of qualities as a building material. In the 1920s, the metal had gained a lot of popularity but was expensive due to its complex refining process. Initial uses of aluminium started in the crude version of airplanes after the invention of alloys of aluminium to provide it with the requisite strength. However, gradually its use in the construction and architecture sector materialized and the metal began to be predominantly utilized for producing roofs, frames for windows and doors, facades, air conditioning systems and staircases to name a few.

It has many inherent qualities making it a preferred choice in comparison to other metals and substitutes. The metal has excellent resistance to corrosion, is light in weight, has a better visual appeal, and can be coated in any color to complement the décor of the building. Additionally, the architectural domain also demands a metal which can be effortlessly converted or molded in any shape. Architects thus prefer using aluminium since the metal is robust enough to endure the wind pressure in high-rise green buildings when used in facades, glazing, cladding and curtain wall to name a few.

Amidst the multitude of choices in materials for the usage of windows, aluminium which is rightly termed as a ‘magic metal’ has managed to excel. But what is it that makes aluminium the best metal for usage in windows systems? It is the chemical, mechanical, and physical properties of the modern-day aluminium alloys that are responsible for the sharp upsurge in its worldwide usage. Below mentioned are some of the reasons that provide a clear indication of the ceaseless growth of the aluminium usage in window systems not just for the residential domain but also dominating the commercial markets:

Strength-to-Weight ratio: Aluminium is about 1/3rd the weight of steel and iron, which means that the finished weight of any product will be lighter when constructed with the help of an aluminium alloy. It embodies that small quantities of the metal can give more strength and toughness to the structures. The high strength-to-weight ratio of this metal is one of the key advantages of its usage in the construction industry.
Malleability: Aluminium is a very desirable metal as it is more malleable and adaptable than any other metal. Being ductile in nature, it has a low density and melting point. It can be processed in numerous shapes in a molten condition. The malleable property of aluminium lets its products to be generated very close to the end of the product’s design.

Fire-resistance: Aluminium does not burn and hence it is categorized as a non-combustible material. Nevertheless, aluminium alloys melt at about 650°C, but without discharging any injurious and damaging gases. This is the main reason why the external covers and surfaces of industrial structures are composed with thin aluminium panel finishes which are intended to combine only in case of severe fire, thus letting heat and smoke to leak and further reduce the damage caused by the fire.

Fully recyclable: Aluminum is 100 per cent recyclable and can be recycled any number of times with losing its properties which makes it a much more inexpensive source of material for production runs. The re-melting of the metal necessitates very less energy: only about five percent of the energy needed to generate the primary metal initially is needed in the recycling process. Being infinitely 100 per cent recyclable, it is considered one of the most circular materials. Interestingly, 75 per cent of the aluminium ever produced is still in use as per we forum.

Mechanical properties: The frames composed of aluminium can provide very sturdy doors and windows with amplified security and longstanding sturdiness. In case of extreme temperature vacillations, they do not warp in the long term, a fact that is very significant to consider in regions experiencing a lot of sunshine and hot temperatures during the summer. This is why aluminium offers highly meticulous dimensions that remain unchanged and are not predisposed to expansions and contractions. Thus, maximum stiffness against air and water and a seamless fit between the frame and the window’s girdle is achieved. Also, the robustness of the aluminium frames allows the formation of large spans for maximum penetration of natural light, with no peril of frames bending or twisting, as is often the case with other, weak materials. In case of unforeseen events like in the case of fire, aluminium windows and doors facilitate in limiting the spread by absorbing and eliminating an outsized portion of the heat generated by fires. When aluminium does melt, at six hundred and sixty degrees Celsius, it slows down the speed of fire, without producing combustible or poisonous gasses.

The metal won’t break: While being used in the window system construction, the aluminium frame profiles can be effortlessly bent or pushed into the necessary shape without any hazard of breaking due to its flexible and ductile properties.

Easy to make into frames: Aluminium window frames are composed making use of an extrusion process that is by forcing the pre-heated aluminium alloy through a die to generate an aluminium profile. These profiles are then combined to create the frame. It is the design of these profiles that lend the window frame its exclusive feature. They can be multifaceted designs but thankfully these convoluted shapes can be achieved by making use of a single extruded section so that the profiles are both sturdy and long-standing. Aluminium also has exceptional machinability, thus making it effortless to perfectly construct the aluminium profiles into the completed window frame.

Thermal and sound insulation: Technological advancements have resulted in the production of aluminium frames with extremely high insulation. Double glazing windows improved with special insulation polyamides in between can generate higher thermal insulation levels which are apt for passive buildings with almost zero loss of energy. In amalgamation with high thermal insulation windowpanes, a thermally insulated aluminium window armours homes from undesirable temperatures of the outside environment, during the summer and winters. During the summers when the temperature sores up, the metal’s high reflective property fends off solar radiation, thus condensing the amount of heat being absorbed by the frames. This helps to keep the home temperature regulated and keeps the inside environment free from outside noise. The Efficiency of such windows needs intricate designs which are possible with aluminium extrusions only which are soft to extrude but have necessary hardness for a perfect finish.

Aluminium is, therefore, the foremost option for future projects with more and more consumers choosing to opt for aluminium windows for both commercial and residential buildings. Often termed as the future metal enabling a better tomorrow, aluminium has witnessed a huge transformation in the way it is used across sectors. To conclude, one cannot envisage a world without aluminium as it is a primary component for an ecological and smart future.
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By Dhiraj Singh; General Manager, Commercials – Jindal Aluminium Limited

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