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How to Identify Poor-Quality Aluminium

Published by Lucy Thurston on


With a global aluminium consumption of over 65 million metric tonnes, the versatility and popularity of this metal have proven itself across a wide range of different industries and sectors. Construction, transportation, packaging, electrical equipment, consumer goods – the list of aluminium uses is endless.

Even more importantly, as we traverse the third decade of the 21st century, the innate recyclability of aluminium meets the overall global drive towards greater sustainability. While virgin aluminium extraction, refining and production require a significant amount of energy and can be an expensive process, the fact that once in the system, aluminium can be recycled an indefinite amount of times helps to mitigate this initial upfront assault on the environment.

Additionally, recycling aluminium only consumes five per cent of the energy used in its original refining process, which further adds to its attractiveness as an acceptable solution in the drive towards greater sustainability.

What is Aluminium Sheet Used for?

Aluminium uses are wide and varied. It has a number of key features that make it the ideal metal for many different applications. A low-density metal, aluminium is lightweight, corrosion resistant, with a high melting point. It also has about 61 per cent of the electrical conductivity of copper, which makes it useful in electrical transmission lines and wiring.

Depending on the primary use, a different aluminium grade may be incorporated. Each different grade denotes the metal alloys – usually copper, manganese, silicon, magnesium and zinc, among others. This means that not all aluminium bars are created equal – depending on the grade, there may be a variation in strength and durability, heat and corrosion resistance.

It is crucial to find an aluminium sheet supplier that demonstrates a thorough knowledge and understanding of what to look out for when choosing the metal. Whether you are looking to purchase aluminium sheet, aluminium tubing or an aluminium bar, the metal will be the result of a recycling process. Being recycled should not compromise the integrity of the metal. You need to be able to spot certain signs that give it away as poor-quality aluminium.

Rapid Metals, a premier aluminium sheet supplier in the Midlands, highlights those signs for its customers.

Check the Thickness of the Metal

Whether you are looking to buy aluminium sheet or aluminium angle, the thickness of the profile wall should be 1.4mm at an absolute minimum. The thicker, the better. Anything less than this denotes an inferior product, which might compromise the safety and integrity of the project you are using it for. Some unscrupulous metal suppliers will offer products at just 0.6mm thick and entice you in with low prices.

Follow the Market Price of Aluminium

If you purchase aluminium regularly, you will spot trends in the national and global price of aluminium. Determining factors of price is based on economic, political and social conditions, which directly (and indirectly) impact supply and demand. If a supplier does draw you in with unexpectedly low prices, then chances are you are looking at an inferior product.

Get Touchy-Feely!

If you are looking at the supply of aluminium sheets, we suggest you get your hands on the metal and see how it feels to you. If you gently fold over the corner of the aluminium, you will soon see the quality – if it snaps easily, the metal is weak and brittle. Better quality will allow the aluminium angle to flex without the surface being affected.

Make sure you also run your hands across the surface and see if you can feel any defects. If you detect bubbles, any evidence of different layers, uneven colours – basically anything that denotes rushed and imperfect finishing – then ask your stockist for proof of purchase. Your aluminium sheet supplier should be in a position to showcase inspection orders and quality assurance certificates to reassure you of the product’s superior quality. If they cannot, or refuse to, then find yourself another stockist.

The surface is so important, and you need to learn to read it well. For example, a lower quality aluminium sheet metal will lose some of its corrosive resistance. This will manifest itself as discolouration or signs of corrosion on the surface of the metal. Equally, if the aluminium tubing or sheet has striations and scratches on the surface, then this is a further indication of inferior quality. Aluminium is a durable and versatile product which can withstand a lot of wear and tear.

The Enduring Demand for Aluminium Uses

In its rawest form and point of extraction from the earth’s crust, aluminium is actually one of the most abundant metals, making up about 8 per cent of its mass. Around 1.5 billion tonnes have since been produced, but more importantly, more than 75 per cent is still in use either in its original format or recycled into the next generation of product. Rapid Metals is committed to reassuring its customers of the superior quality of its aluminium sheet products and is happy to share its quality accreditations. Contact the company direct for more information.

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How to Identify Poor-Quality Aluminium

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