The Evolution of The Aluminum Alloy
The story of human dominance over nature really begins at metalworking with bronze. Bronze represents humanity’s first steps in substantively transforming the essence of the object around them, rather than just manipulating the physical shape of naturally occurring materials.
Since the introduction of bronze more than 10,000 years ago, metallurgy has continued to evolve. Most of the “giant leaps” in metalworking occurred thousands of years ago, but the technological age has brought about unprecedented advances of its own. Many of the advances piggybacked on the slow progression of past eras, as is the case with steel. However, aluminum stands out for its rise as a brand new, never seen before metal that arrived to chart the course for a new era of human progress.
This “metal, that looked like silver, but was too light to be silver” appears in the Roman history books of Pliny the Elder. He tells of how the Roman emperor saw the beauty and versatility of the metal, and, afraid of what its discovery could do to the price of silver, ordered the beheading of the only chemist capable of producing aluminum. The chemist, who claimed only he and the gods knew the secret of making aluminum, took the secret to his grave. From then, the gods were slow in trusting the secret to humans again. In fact, it wasn’t until 1825 that chemist Hans-Christian Orsted produced the first pure aluminum. This Danish scientist got to keep his head and the honor of introducing the world to a game-changing element.
With aluminum in hand, a whole new world opened to engineers and manufacturers. A lightweight, durable, corrosive-resistant, conductive, tasteless, and versatile metal immediately transformed the possibilities for industries, from aerospace and transportation to food and beverage. Soon aluminum, which at first was considered a royal, luxury metal, would find its way into everyone’s home through consumer products such as cars and appliances.
Fueled by these past successes, aluminum continues to be a forward-looking material. Innovation characterizes this industry, focused on pushing the boundaries of the youngest member of the great metal family. Today’s research and development in the aluminum industry focuses on testing and understanding aluminum alloys.
To make these alloys, aluminum is melted and then mixed with other elements such as zinc, magnesium, and copper, among many others. Each alloy has a different set of characteristics, and consequently a different set of uses. In order to streamline the transition of these elements from research to application, aluminum alloys are assigned a four-digit number, where the first number indicates the main element that is alloyed with the aluminum. Some alloys, such as the ones found in the 3xxx series (Manganese), are great as cooking utensils, while other alloys, such as the 7xxx (Zinc) series, are perfect for aircraft. This classification of aluminum alloys gives end-users a guide by which they can pinpoint the aluminum alloy to fit their needs.
Specialized aluminum alloys can be found in our power lines, skyscrapers, appliances, automobiles, aircraft, and consumer products, from soda cans to refrigerators. Perhaps the only thing greater than aluminum’s achievements are the promises for tomorrow. From increased electrical conduction, to stronger, more lightweight aluminum, many of the world’s industries count on aluminum alloys to make their own progress possible. In this way, aluminum alloys are a keystone for the world’s continued technological progression.
At Taber Extrusions, our job is to keep up with every twist and turn in the exciting world of aluminum, so that we can deliver the perfect aluminum alloy for the job. Our intricate, precision extrusions embody our attention to detail and understanding of the nuanced world of aluminum. Taber uses a wide scope of aluminum alloys to deliver quality aluminum extrusions according to customer specifications. That means, every product is tailor made, in substance and in shape.
Many ages have gone by since the first humans began shaping the natural world to their liking. Many, too, have gone by since we began using the power of chemistry to create the perfect materials. At Taber, we take our place within these traditions of progress and innovation, and are proud to work with aluminum, the metal of the future. Come take advantage of our aluminum extrusion expertise and best practices in the sector to meet your needs today!
ABOUT TABER EXTRUSIONS
Founded in 1973, Taber Extrusions originally pioneered a process for extruding rectangular billet which enables the company to extrude solid profiles up to 31 inches wide or hollows up to 29 inches. Taber expanded with the purchase of an extrusion facility in Gulfport, MS in 1995 which houses a new state-of-the-art cast house and two additional presses, micro-extrusion capabilities, and the fabrication area has been expanded multiple times.
Taber continues to extrude billet in a wide range of alloys and sizes and has diversified its markets beyond military since its inception to include aerospace, automotive, marine, infrastructure, and sporting goods, among many others. For these markets, the company supplies cast and extruded products in a variety of soft and hard alloys.
Today, Taber Extrusions is a vertically-integrated supplier of friction stir welding panels and assemblies in North America not previously seen – offering extruded aluminum components, value-added machining services, and raw materials.
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