Aluminium Sheets, How They Are Made and How They Are Used

There are precious few materials more prevalent than products that started off as aluminium sheets in modern day society. Whether they are cans, vehicles, storage containers and other products, aluminium has quickly become one of the defining metals of our age and archaeologists in the future will probably be unearthing objects made from this material in centuries to come. But how are aluminium sheets actually produced?

      aluminium sheets

Aluminium sheets all begin life as a clay-ish variety of ore found around the equator, called bauxite. Bauxite is the essential ingredient from which aluminium is formed, but first it needs to be cleaned and refined. This is done by depositing the ore into a grinder to remove the clay deposits and extracting the alumina (or aluminium-oxide) from the bauxite ore. The aluminium-oxide is then refined further by separating it from the bauxite using a mixture of caustic soda and lime, heated to a high temperature. Once the two substances have been successfully removed from each other, the alumina is gathered as a fine white powder for further refining.

This is done by using a technique known as electrolysis. You’ve probably conducted this experiment before while at school. Electrolysis works by running electricity through a negative cathode and a positive anode of a certain element. While this is ongoing, a compound is placed within the liquid within which the cathode and anode sits. The resultant electrical charges separate individual elements from a compound, which is necessary to separate the aluminium from the oxygen. As both the cathode and anode are made from carbon, the oxygen separates from the aluminium and reacts with the carbon, forming carbon dioxide (CO2). The resultant aluminium is in turn melted down and tapped from the cells of the device.

This liquid aluminium is usually forged into ingots, which allows it to be repurposed towards any end that the manufacturers deem necessary. In order to produce aluminium sheets, for example, the ingot is fed into a roller and flattened. Aluminium metal is very ductile, and as can easily be rolled into sheets as thin as 0.006mm. However, even with that thickness, aluminium sheets are completely airtight, and does not allow light, air, moisture or taste to pass through it.

The world’s largest producers of aluminium are China, Russia, Canada, the USA and Australia. This does not necessarily mean that they produce the most bauxite, of course.

For more information about aluminium sheets and other metallic products, feel free to visit the website of Click Metals and see their wide catalogue of goods. Alternative you could contact them more directly by phoning 07958 541165.

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