Aluminum Manufacturing: Handling and Processing

Aluminum is one of the most crucial elements that is derived from the ore, bauxite. It constitutes almost 8% of the earth’s crust, and thus, is a major element in the supply chain of consumable goods. Signature alum offers the most customized solutions to the customers, thereby standing as one of the leaders in the industry. It offers tight tolerant linear parts with a focus to meet the customer needs at the most competitive cost.

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It has been found out the negative impacts of aluminum are comparatively lesser than its numerous positives. It comes with an amazing corrosion-resistant property, and certainly, the low density of the element is one of the major reasons for which it is used in production at every level of manufacturing. It is an essential commodity that has a role to play, right from that of food storage to that of aerospace development.

Millions of tons of aluminum are processed every year, and thus, hundreds and thousands of jobs are leveraged in this industry each year. However, there are several challenges associated with Aluminum handling and processing, and each of these processes demands advanced material solutions. Nevertheless, aluminum still has a great impact on the global economy as a whole.

Environmental impact due to the aluminum extraction

The aluminum industry faces quite a lot of challenges in its production process, and one of the major issues that the process has got to face is in the involvement of the Alumina. It has the chemical formula of Al2O3. It undergoes a chemical digestion process during its extraction from the bauxite ore. The effluent material, thus, received, is known as the red mud, which is basically an insoluble waste product. It comes with major difficulties in terms of storage, and thus, resulted in a scenario wherein various refineries have been turning to marine dumping, lagoons, and dry-stacking for the ore disposal. The aluminum industry has made several intensive efforts to enhance its sustainability. It has also taken different measures to minimize the carbon footprint. It has undergone immense changes in both primary and secondary processes. Advanced aluminum handling techniques and equipment have improved the methods of recycling and extracting aluminum. Also, it has become almost 29% more energy efficient than its former, age-old methods.

Troubles for primary and secondary aluminum handling

As already mentioned, and just like any other ore manufacturing process has both primary and secondary modules of handling, the same goes for aluminum as well. Aluminum is an extremely durable material that comes with high corrosion resistant properties. It also comprises of high-thermal potential. The procedure usually involves the smelting of the molten aluminum at a temperature of approximately 980° Celsius or 1796° Fahrenheit. Such a high temperature is capable of chemically corroding materials through thermal spalling or wetting. As a result, it decreases the longevity of service lives of refractory products such as the thermocouples and heater tubes. Hence, it has raised the major maintenance expense.

Aluminum applications

High quantities of aluminum are used in goods packaging, beverages, and in the medical industry as well. It does not affect the taste of food as a whole but is capable of repelling the water, and thus, extend the shelf life of food items as a whole. In addition to it, the element is used to make utensils, foils, trays, cookware, toasters, and refrigerators. Aluminum is greatly used in the locomotive industry as well, particularly in the manufacture of ships, trains, buses, and planes. It is light, strong, and flexible, and thus, has a great role to play in the aviation industry and in the making of spacecraft such as the space shuttles.

Aluminum’s resistance to corrosion also contributed to its popularity in the field of construction wherein it is capable of keeping homes cool during the summer months and warm in the winter. It is even used in the electrical industry due to its low density and 63% of electrical conductivity, which makes it an ideal choice for long-distance power lines. Besides, it is used in consumer goods like smartphones, tablets, laptops, and more.

Common problems associated with Aluminum manufacturing

A lot of engineers and technicians say that aluminum manufacturing is not at all an easy job. The properties of aluminum that allow higher speed in terms of processing and attribute towards giving it a good mechanical performance, on the other side, make the cutting process difficult. As a result, you might require a special measure to settle the manufacturing process without any hassle.

Some of the common problems related to that of drilling and cutting. One of the major troubles in aluminum cutting is the Built-Up Edge – welding to the tool edge on the soft and gummy workpiece material resulting in the loss of effective geometry shapes. It compels one to offer a higher force during the cutting, as well as lead to several quality problems.

However, each and every case is unique and demands different sets of measures to be taken. In general scenarios, the aluminum operations call for the highest parameters of RPM, usage of maximum coolant, and articles available without any tool coating. In the case of continuous production, the use of Polycrystalline diamond or PCD and Cubical Boron Nitride or CBN are incorporated to promote the production and minimize the risks of built edge issues.

Communication passed down to the granular level to lower the risks and boost the production

With modern equipment and new technologies, processes are turning out to be easier than ever. As a result, the technicians are advised to meet the industry standards and safety measures at the workplace to lower the risks of their job. Communicating new techniques to the employees and vendors have become mandatory at different levels of the organization. From production planning to QA manager, plant manager, extrusion or finishing supervisors, sales manager, and GM, inputs are being provided to incorporate the instructions at the workplace.