Aluminum is the most widespread metal on Earth, about 8% of Earth’s solid surface, and the third most common chemical element on our planet, after oxygen and silicon. Despite its prevalence, aluminum did not start being used on an industrial scale until 1888, when the first aluminum factories were established in France, Switzerland, and the United States. Due to its light weight, strength, durability, and functionality, aluminum is one of the essential engineering materials of our time.
Aluminum is one of the lightest engineering materials (approximately three times lighter than steel), making it easier to handle and less expensive to ship, yet it can have a strength-to-weight ratio superior to steel. Aluminum strength is a result of alloys added to it, like magnesium and silicon, and the processing technique used to produce it, some of which can make it as strong or stronger than steel. Lightness and strength are just two reasons aluminum is used so often in buildings and vehicles, both commercial and private.
Aluminum is extremely durable and corrosion resistant, the result of a thin, protective aluminum oxide layer that forms when aluminum is exposed to air. It will not warp, rot, or become infested by insects like wood, nor will it rust like steel or iron. At eGlass Railing™, we use 6005-T5 aluminum alloy that has been heat treated for strength and AAMA 2605 powder coating for added corrosion protection. Although, 6005 aluminum is one of the most commonly used general-purpose aluminum alloys, it is also especially suited for marine environments due to its high corrosion resistance.
Aluminum is low maintenance. Unlike wood or steel that need frequent maintenance, aluminum railings shouldn’t need more than to be hosed down or wiped off occasionally. The powder coating won’t chip, peel, or need re-painting. Wood railings need to be painted, stained, or sealed every two to three years to prevent decay, which will lead to them needing to be replaced. Similarly, steel railings must be painted every few years to prevent rust.
Aluminum is 100% recyclable. It can be recycled over and over again without losing any of its fundamental properties. Nearly 75% of all of the aluminum produced since 1888 is still in use today. At eGlass Railing™, our aluminum components are manufactured with at least 50% recycled aluminum, which uses 95% less energy to produce.