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Aluminium Fabrication: The Challenges and Benefits

Aluminum is quickly becoming a popular alternative to steel in the precision metal fabrication industry.  It offers a number of attractive qualities for designers and metal workers such as:

  • Corrosion resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Strong
  • Non-sparking
  • Non-magnetic

However, despite its many advantages there are a number of challenges for aluminium fabrication shops looking to work with aluminum effectively. Steel is much simpler to weld than aluminum, therefore, aluminum welding services should be handled by a shop with experience. Since aluminum is a softer metal than steel, when feeding the wire used for welding it is more susceptible to damage. More importantly, aluminum has a high thermal conductivity, meaning heat it deflected away from the welding area, which can result in incomplete fusion. Skilled aluminum welding services understand this and are capable of working around it to achieve high quality welds.

Another hurdle in aluminium fabrication is aluminum laser cutting. Precision metal fabrication requires a high attention to detail. Laser cutting can provide a high level of accuracy and consistency when cutting metal parts, however laser cutters can only handle material up to certain thicknesses. Due to the high thermal conductivity of aluminum, it can only be cut in thinner sheets that when cutting steel.

The benefits of aluminium fabrication far outweigh the cons. A skilled aluminium fabrication shop understands the challenges associated with aluminum fabrication, but has a team and processes in place to ensure quality. The real problems are only with inexperience. An aluminum welding services shop will be able to achieve high strength welds, and the thinner aluminum sheets used in aluminum laser cutting still offer adequate strength for many applications, at a fraction of the weight.