Meet the Man Who Built an Aluminum House in his Spare Time

Many of us use aluminum every day to preserve our food, insulate our homes, and even travel to and from work. However, mid-century architect Ed Westall has us all beat; in the 1950s he built a beautiful family home entirely out of aluminum! The showpiece stands as a testament to the mid-century modern aesthetic as well as the triumph of human imagination – and the adaptability of aluminum alloys. Of course, we here at Taber are a bit biased in our opinions of aluminum, but we find Westall’s story to be as inspiring as it is illuminating (or shall we say, a-luminating!)

While working as an engineer in the 1940s and 50s, Ed Westall was searching for something more. Something to give his life purpose, and hopefully enrich the lives of others around him. It was post-war America; the economy was booming, and more and more families were looking to upgrade their homes and move out of the cities. Westall wanted to come up with an efficient and affordable way to provide as many homes as possible to as many families as possible. He came up with the idea of an aluminum house due to the availability of the material after the war. His prototype was decidedly Space Age, with many rounded corners and domes, all shining with reflective aluminum siding. His contemporaries marveled at the efficient use of space inside the home, even as they puzzled as to whether the innovative design would catch on.

Ultimately aluminum homes did not become the standard of the future as Westall had hoped, although the material has many applications in modern homes and homebuilding today. We can still take inspiration from his courage and desire to help families around the country. At Taber Extrusions, we are always looking for new ways to inspire our communities around us by creating custom shapes for almost any application. Call us today at (888) 984-1659 to see what aluminum could build for your future!

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February 9th, 2017|

How Extruded Aluminum Saved the Canoe

canoe-1668538_960_720The canoe is one of the oldest seafaring vessels in human history, but did you know that its history is inextricably linked with that of the American aluminum industry? Without innovations in extruded aluminum shapes, we might not have the modern canoe we know and love today. It all started after World War II, when the U.S. had been producing record amounts of extruded aluminum for the war effort. After the need for automotive and aerospace parts began to lessen, manufacturers and extruders needed to come up with a new use for the material. Enter: the humble canoe.

Nowadays we think of aluminum as a common metal with many household and recreation applications, including but not limited to water sports. However, because aluminum is not a naturally occurring resource but an alloy made up of multiple elements, there was time before the 1940s when finding the right applications and demand for aluminum shapes was a tricky proposition. World War II changed the U.S. economy and workforce forever by employing millions of recession-stricken Americans for primarily manufacturing-based jobs to aid in the war effort. One such employer was called Grunman, a major supplier of aluminum aircraft for allied forces. After the war, Grunman needed to find a way to stay in business while providing extruded aluminum shapes for the public at large. One of Grunman’s employees, an avid outdoorsman, first came up with the idea of an aluminum canoe after struggling with his traditional canvas and wood constructed model. Aluminum, he proposed, would be significantly lighter, watertight, and easy to manufacture using Grunman’s advance techniques gleaned from extruding military aircraft parts. The gamble paid off, and the canoes quickly became Grunman’s most popular product.

Today aluminum is still one of the most commonly found materials for personal watercraft, and Taber is proud to contribute to this legacy of innovation, ingenuity, and American manufacturing. Visit our site here to learn about some of the other industries we serve besides marine; including automotive, aerospace, and agricultural markets. No matter how unique your idea, Taber’s team of metallurgists and engineers are ready to make it a reality. Get in touch today!

January 12th, 2017|