a light, silvery, corrosion-resistant metal with excellent metal-working characteristics - the third most common element, after oxygen and silicium.
Aluminium was discovered only at the end of the 19th century, but it now stands alongside steel as the most important metal for almost all engineering applications.
Aluminium occurs naturally only in the form of compounds. The basis for the production of the metal is bauxite, a product formed by the weathering of limestone and silicate rocks, which have a high content of Al2O3 (aluminium oxid) - often excessing 50%.
More than 25 millions tonnes of aluminium are processed throughout the world each year, with the Western world accounting for 20 million tonnes of that figure. Demand for metal is constantly increasing in the Western indutrial countries, particularly in Europe, outstripping their production capacity. The shortfall has to be met by imports from all parts of the world.
Pure aluminium is a low-strength material. Significantly higher strength properties with relatively high tensile and elasticity limits can be achieved by adding appropriate alloy components. Aluminium alloy materials are classified as œnaturally hard and heat-treatable materials.
The low relative density of aluminium provides excellent opportunities for cost savings for all product-handling, transport, manufacture, assembly and maintenance processes.