Diversified Specialty Metals Guide to Different Product Forms of Aluminum

Diversified Specialty Metals Guide to Different Product Forms of Aluminum

Published in Aluminum

Aluminum is one of the most popular materials across a huge range of industries. Everyday items like your home furniture and appliances, your car, and the canned goods in your pantry involve different product forms of aluminum. Additionally, aluminum is used to fabricate buildings, airplanes, and military equipment, as well as many marine uses, including watercrafts and docks.

And that’s just the beginning! Aluminum has countless uses and applications, making it one of the most popular specialty metals on Earth.

Perhaps one of the reasons that aluminum is so popular is that it has many properties that other materials don’t. It’s lighter weight and has greater workability than steel and iron. It’s more flexible than copper. And it’s less expensive than stainless steel products, making it ideal for a wide variety of projects and applications. Here are a few additional characteristics of aluminum that you might not be aware of:

  • High thermal conductivity
  • High corrosion resistance
  • Nontoxic
  • Easily cast, rolled, and extruded
  • Strengthened through a solution heat process
  • Various colours and protection through anodizing and powder coating

Additionally, aluminum is readily available. As you might have learned in your high school science class, aluminum (atomic number 13 on the periodic table, by the way) makes up about 8 percent of the Earth’s crust by weight. It’s also considered the “green metal” since it’s environmentally friendly. It can be recycled over and over again with a low carbon footprint.

Finally, aluminum can be mixed with other materials to produce aluminum alloys. When a natural metal like copper or tin is added to aluminum, the chemical composition—and the metal’s characteristics—change. Alloys are stronger, more durable, and more corrosion-resistant than pure aluminum. Thanks to aluminum’s flexibility and versatility, it has become one of the most popular materials in the world.

Like a large portion of the world, Canada makes great use of aluminum. In addition to being home to a large aluminum manufacturing sector for international customers, Canada and its residents use aluminum in countless everyday applications. Here are a few of the primary aluminum production commodities throughout Canada and all of North America:

  • Construction materials, including siding and structural components, are frequently made of extruded, drawn, or cast aluminum.
  • Aluminum wire is common in electronics, and other aluminum products are used as electrical fittings.
  • Food packaging like cans and foil contains aluminum.
  • Products like sandpaper and bricks contain aluminum oxide.

Thanks to its machinability and formability, metal buyers and users can obtain aluminum in all different shapes and sizes. The two main product types of aluminum are flat and long products.

The Difference between Flat and Long Products

Both aluminum and its alloys are extremely versatile materials. Each alloy’s chemical composition produces unique characteristics. Overall, each aluminum alloy is flexible, lightweight, and has a good strength-to-weight ratio comparable to steel. And since they’re highly conductive, non-toxic, and highly resistant to corrosion, these products are in constant demand. In fact, these mechanical properties allow the metal to be produced in both long and flat product forms.

What Is the Difference between Long and Flat Products?

Aluminum products are produced by two main manufacturing methods: long products and flat products. The right method depends on what shape and size you need the final product to be, as well as whether you’re working with pure aluminum or aluminum alloys.

Which Products Are Long?

In general, long aluminum products are melted down and then extruded. Here’s a list of readily available long products:

  • Aluminum pipe
  • Aluminum shapes
  • Aluminum channel
  • Aluminum square tube
  • Aluminum square bar
  • Aluminum rectangular tube
  • Aluminum angle bar
  • Aluminum round bar

Which Products Are Flat?

Some projects require the use of aluminum flat products, which are generally rolled instead of extruded. Here are some of the flat products that Diversified Specialty Metals offers:

  • Aluminum plate
  • Aluminum coil
  • Aluminum sheet
  • Aluminum flatbar
  • Aluminum expanded metal
  • Aluminum checker plate
  • Aluminum checker plate—metric

The flat and long categories contain unique but related products, each with its own list of ideal applications.

Long Products

Using precision aluminum alloys, long products can be manufactured into all sorts of shapes for countless applications. Most products are available in 6061 aluminum, an aluminum alloy that contains magnesium and silicon. 6061 aluminum—and in particular, the T6 grade—is stronger than other aluminum alloys and offers excellent corrosion resistance.

From aluminum pipes to extrusions, channels, and angles, aluminum long products satisfy the needs of fabrication projects, home DIY projects, and even industrial artists.

Aluminum Pipe

Aluminum pipe is a hollow, round, thin-walled long product. The wall thickness is consistent throughout the entire length, and it has high conductivity and thermal conductivity. These properties make it ideal for power transmission lines and other piping needs in the automotive industry.

Aluminum Shapes

Thanks to aluminum’s formability and workability, manufacturers can produce many different aluminum shapes to meet the needs of just about any application. An extruded aluminum product can be square, rectangular, round, or just about any other form that you can imagine.

If you need aluminum extrusion shapes delivered quickly, just contact Diversified Specialty Metals. Our expansive inventory and logistical expertise will deliver the exact product exactly where and when you need it!

Aluminum Channel

One of the most common aluminum alloy applications is aluminum channel. Aluminum channel extrusions have two flanges that make a “C” or “U” shape. Thus, they’re often referred to as “aluminum C channel” or “aluminum U channel.”

Channels are commonly used in structural applications to secure materials like sheet metal, drywall, and wood in place. In fact, aluminum mounting channel is a very popular component of commercial and residential construction. You might also see these channels used to secure LED strip lights within a structure so that the lights are hidden, producing an aura effect.

Aluminum Square Tube

Aluminum square tube is a go-to aluminum extrusion for projects involving window frames, structural framework, support columns, and fencing. It’s even used as stair railings in some buildings! Because it can be manufactured in up to 24’ lengths, there is no weld seam—just a smooth piece of metal tubing. And since it’s strong but hollow, aluminum square tubing is a great option if you need maximum strength but don’t want the weight of a heavier metal like steel or iron.

Aluminum Square Bar

Although hollow square tube is strong, aluminum square bar is stronger. This type of extruded solid aluminum bar is used mainly for machine parts, architecture, and various applications in the medical and aircraft industries. Since this material is so versatile, many industries keep a large aluminum square bar stock on hand. Square bar is available in profiles ranging from 1/4” to 2” and is available in 12’ and 20’ lengths.

Aluminum Rectangular Tube

Although not quite as strong as square tube, hollow aluminum rectangular tube is one of the most popular aluminum profiles available. It’s used for structural and architectural applications, fencing, and framework and is a common element in modern furniture. Since it’s both strong and attractive, you might see this tubing used as a decorative accent that doubles as structure in some pieces of furniture.

Rectangle tube is available with square or rounded corners and in a wide variety of heights, widths, lengths, and wall thicknesses.

Aluminum Angle Bar

Aluminum angle bar can also be used for both structure and decoration. Basically, this angle bar consists of a piece of aluminum bent at a 90-degree angle. You’ve likely seen angle bar used as L-brackets to provide stability to structures and as a nice, clean finish to wall corners. Wall thicknesses range from 1/8” (ideal if you have to drill through the angle bar for mounting purposes) to 1/2” (if you’re using it for more of a structural application). This product is also available in an array of sizes, from 1-1/4” x 1-1/4” to 5” x 3”.

Aluminum Round Bar

Also known as aluminum rod or aluminum round rod, aluminum round bar is a solid piece of metal used predominantly in machining and welding. It’s a good thermal conductor—and very strong! In fact, it’s sometimes used as a shock absorber in the automotive industry.

Additionally, aluminum round bar can be produced as threaded rod and used as a strong connector to bolt pieces of material together. Since it’s available in a huge range of diameters, it’s a versatile material that fits into countless applications.

Aluminum Beam

When you need strength but are concerned about weight or stress, aluminum beam might be your best option. Products like an aluminum I-beam made of 6061 aluminum are common in construction applications like rafters and awnings. Although they’re not as strong as steel beams, aluminum beams can still withstand a great deal of weight and pressure. Aluminum beams are available in 1/4” wall thickness and in multiple heights, widths, and lengths.

Aluminum Hex Bar

Also referred to as hexagon bar, aluminum hex bar is used for construction, carpentry, and electrical fittings like bolts, nuts, and trusses. It’s also commonly found in automotive drive shafts since they’re solid instead of hollow. Aluminum hex bars are available in 1/2” or 1” thicknesses.

Aluminum Round Tube

Aluminum round tube is extremely common in furniture. Your favourite office chair might be constructed with this product! It’s also frequently used for automotive accessories and architectural structures. Round tube can be produced through extrusion or drawing and might have varying wall thickness throughout the length. Aluminum round tube is available in a wide range of wall thicknesses and lengths, with an outside diameter of up to 3”.

Flat Products

Where long products are often extruded or drawn, flat products are generally hot rolled. This process allows the manufacturer to precisely control the exact thickness, width, and shape of the material. Flat products encompass everything from thick aluminum plates to the paper-thin aluminum foil you might use for food storage in your home.

Aluminum Plate

Aluminum plate is a strong, durable material with good corrosion resistance. Sheet metal made of aluminum alloys is classified as aluminum plate if it’s over .250” thick or more. Thinner materials are classified as aluminum sheets.

Thanks to its mechanical properties, aluminum plate is used in the aerospace and military industries to produce jets, ships, railcars, and military vehicles. This product can be hot rolled into thicknesses of up to 1” and cut into just about any length and width.

Aluminum Coil

Some aluminum products can be put through an anodizing process that adds oxidation protection to prevent rust and corrosion—particularly if the metal will be exposed to the elements. Aluminum coil is a great example of this! Aluminum coil is ideal for furniture, aircraft fascia, cars, and trucks. It can be produced as thin as .032” and in a wide range of widths.

Aluminum Sheet

Aluminum sheet is classified as sheet metal made with aluminum alloy that’s .249” thick or less. It’s an extremely popular material across countless industries. Here are a few of the most common applications:

  • Cans for canned goods
  • Tractor trailers
  • Boat manufacturers
  • Fuel tanks
  • Auto body panels
  • Awnings
  • Gutters
  • Roofing material
  • Siding

In addition, aluminum sheet is sometimes used for cookware and home appliances as a less expensive alternative to stainless steel sheet.

Because they’re used in so many different applications, aluminum sheets are available in thicknesses ranging from .249” to .32”. You might add protective PVC coatings to prevent your aluminum sheet from damage until you’ve installed it!

Aluminum Flatbar

When you need corrosion-resistant and lightweight construction material with superior tensile strength, consider aluminum flatbar. This product is often used to construct frames by cutting each piece and welding the corners. You can order these bars in thicknesses of up to .75”, and you can select from a huge range of widths and lengths.

Aluminum Expanded Metal

Aluminum expanded metal is a mesh-like material produced from a single piece of metal. It can be formed, cut, and welded to create products like screens, shelves, and automotive grilles. Diversified Specialty Metals’s expansive metal inventory and supply chain and logistics expertise mean that we’ll deliver the exact expanded metal products to you quickly!

Aluminum Checker Plate

Also known as aluminum tread plate or aluminum diamond plate, aluminum checker plate is used for surfaces that require extreme durability. Aluminum sheets or plates are stamped with a raised diamond or rice pattern for slip resistance, which you might need on a floor or a stair tread. These products are available in a range of thicknesses, widths, and lengths using the imperial measurement system.

Aluminum Checker Plate—Metric

Aluminum checker plate—metric is the same material as standard aluminum checker plate. However, these items are produced to metric measurements instead of imperial dimensions.

Diversified Aluminum Products for Every Project

Diversified Specialty Metals’s huge inventory allows us to provide you with the perfect aluminum product form for your needs. What’s more, our outstanding customer service and logistics teams will coordinate transportation and delivery so that your products arrive when you need them.

Diversified Specialty Metals is Canada’s most diversified metal service center, supplying all forms of aluminum in various grades and tempers.

Diversified Specialty Metals Adds New Bar Saw for Faster, More Precise Processing

Fast Turnaround & Delivery

Fast Turnaround & Delivery

Metallurgists and Product Specialists on Staff

Metallurgists and Product Specialists on Staff

Serving Canada and the US Metal Needs

Serving Canada and the US Metal Needs