If you were asked to name a strong metal, would aluminum spring to mind? It’s unlikely. After all, Superman is known as the Man of Steel, and Ironman doesn’t fight evil by donning high-tech aluminum armor. Of course, perception and reality are often very different. Just how strong is aluminum? While this material is used for countless applications, that question is not often explored, and answering it can be surprisingly tricky. However, one fact is clear: Aluminum is the metal of choice in many situations because it’s strong enough to get the job done.
How Strong Is Aluminum?
How is a metal’s strength determined? There are actually a few different qualities that are worth considering when trying to decide how strong a material is:
- Compressive strength measures how well a material resists being squeezed or compacted.
- Tensile strength measures how well a substance resists being pulled apart.
- Yield strength measures how well something resists being bent or reshaped.
- Impact strength measures how well a material withstands an impact without shattering.
Materials that excel in one of these areas often fare poorly in others, so deciding exactly how strong any material truly is can be challenging.
Defining Aluminum’s Strength
Aluminum is a fairly malleable metal, so you’re unlikely to find it on anyone’s list of strongest metals. However, it’s certainly stronger than many other materials. In fact, aluminum’s balance of malleability and strength is part of what makes it such a useful and versatile material. Manufacturers can shape it as needed while still being confident in its strength and durability.
Aluminum also maintains its strength well, unlike some other metals. For example, steel may be a stronger material under ideal conditions, but it becomes brittle in cold temperatures and is vulnerable to corrosion. In contrast, aluminum isn’t bothered by changes in temperature and naturally resists rust. In addition, aluminum shines when weight is a concern. It weighs roughly one-third of what steel does, so you can use greater quantities of it before weight becomes an issue.
Rating Aluminum’s Strength
How strong is aluminum? The most effective way to answer this question may be to consider how and where aluminum is used. The Aluminum Association notes that aluminum or aluminum alloys are utilized in an impressive array of applications:
- Shark Cages: If you’re brave enough to swim with Great Whites, you’ll hopefully be facing them from behind the trusty bars of an aluminum shark cage. Aluminum is sturdy enough to withstand the force of even these threatening predators, is more buoyant than many other metals, and won’t corrode in salt water.
- Automobiles: Lightweight, strong, durable, and good at absorbing the energy of impacts, aluminum is the second-most-used material by automakers. Aluminum is used in the construction of everything from cars and trucks to buses and ocean liners. The U.S. Army uses aluminum in its Humvees and Bradley Fighting Vehicles to provide corrosion resistance, reliability, and reduced weight.
- Fighter Planes: Once upon a time, planes were made of wood, wires, and fabric. Today’s military aircraft use aluminum alloys. The F-16, a renowned fighter jet, has an airframe that is 80 percent aluminum.
- Spacecraft: NASA routinely relies on aluminum and aluminum alloys when constructing vehicles for space travel. An aluminum-lithium alloy is used in the construction of the Orion, the new spacecraft that might someday carry humans to Mars.
- Skyscrapers: Aluminum is often used in curtain walls and window frames of high-rise buildings that stand tall and proud.
- Armor Plating: When armor plating is needed to shield U.S. Army vehicles and the soldiers traveling inside them from explosives and other hazards, it’s often made from aluminum.
How strong is aluminum? If aluminum is strong enough for use in shark cages, military vehicles, and spacecraft, it’s clearly a material that you can rely on. That’s one reason why so many people choose aluminum handrails. Sturdy and solid, aluminum handrails offer a sense of security. They also have plenty of aesthetic appeal. Aluminum handrails come in a variety of styles and sizes. No matter what your style of decor is, you’re sure to find a handrail that suits it. You’ll even find a wide range of colors and textures to choose from. As an added bonus, long-lasting aluminum handrails require little in the way of upkeep. These durable, low-maintenance handrails will continue providing strength and beauty for years.
Whatever your needs, when you’re searching for an aluminum handrail solution, Aluminum Handrail Direct can help you find it. We’re proud to offer consumers an extensive selection of affordable, high-quality aluminum handrails that are made in the United States. Powder-coated in a variety of colors and textures, our handrails offer both beauty and reliability. To explore our inventory, visit our online store today.