Why Choose Aluminum

Aluminum is cost-effective, durable, strong, and sustainable. Learn why more engineers are choosing lightweight aluminum over steel and other materials.

Hexagonal aluminum extrusion

Aluminum offers excellent atmospheric corrosion resistance, durability, and a high strength-to-weight ratio compared with competing construction materials.

A total cost of ownership study shows that decision makers should no longer assume that steel is the best option economically when investing in civil engineering structures.

3 Key Benefits of
Aluminum vs. Steel

Aluminum is a more cost-effective construction material.

Aluminum is about one-third the weight of steel, iron, copper, or brass. Aluminum’s lighter weight reduces transportation, and by replacing steel, extends the life and maximizes the load-bearing capacity of bridges. It also makes aluminum structures easier to handle and install.

Aluminum has an attractive, natural finish, which can be soft or shiny. It can be virtually any color or texture, providing infinite possibilities for eye-catching design. What’s more, graffiti can be easily removed by simply brushing the bare metal.

Aluminum is strong and resilient, providing structural integrity.

Aluminum has a high strength-to-weight ratio, which means it has greater strength and is easier to handle than other materials like steel. It can flex under live loads or spring back from the shock of an impact, resisting permanent deformation caused by heavy use, climate, or movement. Aluminum also retains its strength at low temperatures, making it an ideal metal for harsh climates and conditions.

Aluminum is also easy to fabricate and extrude into infinite shapes. Complex aluminum shapes can be produced in one-piece extrusions without using mechanical joining methods, making parts stronger and less likely to leak or loosen over time.

Aluminum is durable, with little to no maintenance required.

Natural mill finish aluminum generates its own protective oxide coating and is highly corrosion resistant under most service conditions. This amazing property of aluminum translates to extremely low maintenance costs and an esthetically pleasing, rust-free appearance for many decades. 

Over its lifecycle, aluminum is proven to be almost maintenance-free with no costly galvanizing or painting. In fact, a study comparing steel and aluminum footbridges found that over their decades-long lifespan, aluminum bridges have a lower total cost of ownership since they require so little maintenance and repair.

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Sustainability of Aluminum

Aluminum offers many major advantages for the environment:

  • 100% recyclable, with high scrap value at the end of its useful life.
  • Recycling aluminum scrap requires only 5% of the energy used to make new aluminum.
  • Fully reusable upon deconstruction without any loss of strength or mechanical properties.
  • Reduced energy use and pollution during transport due to light weight (60% of equivalent steel structure).
Aluminum pedestrian bridge crossing over wooded creek

More About Aluminum

Aluminum ingot

History of Aluminum

AAC Report: Use of Aluminum in Vehicular Bridge Construction

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