Aluminum boasts well over a hundred years in manufacturing automobiles. However, the initial trials were difficult because working with a metal like aluminum was a new feat introduced and required special expertise, in fact, it took nearly 60 years to perfect the craft and have it widely used in the auto industry. Moreover, the lightness of the metal and subsequently the cars produced by it made it an instant hit with the motorsport industry. Aluminum significantly reduced the weight of vehicles which in turn led to reduced fuel consumption.
Presently, next to steel, aluminum is the second most used material in the auto industry.
What is Aluminum?
Aluminum is a metallic element, quite often, together classified with tin and lead as “poor metals”, a feature that makes it extremely malleable. Aluminum has been used for eons, by ancient civilizations. In fact, traces of aluminum oxide have been discovered in archeological artifacts from Ancient Egypt and Rome. Aluminum is the third most common element in the earth’s crust and the most common metal element in nature. Aluminum is usually employed to make lightweight but relatively strong alloys. It is also a good conductor of electricity as well as heat and it is non-magnetic. These properties make it suitable for constructing cooking utensils as well as auto-manufacturing.
Properties of Aluminum
Aluminum molecular density is one third that of steel.
Aluminum and Aluminum alloys have great tensile strengths and unlike steel, aluminum does not become brittle at low temperatures, their strength increases when cold.
Aluminum’s strength is directly proportional to its flexibility. This means it can flex with ease under heavy loads and relatively bounce back from impact force.
Aluminum is extremely malleable, easily extruded into any form with the assistance of a die. Aluminum is also special in the sense it doesn’t need to be hot in order to be extruded even cold aluminum is malleable.
- Conductivity and Reflectivity
Aluminum is an exemplary conductor of electricity and heat as well as a good reflector of both light and heat. It is also non-magnetic.
- Corrosion resistant
Aluminum is corrosive resistant as it reacts with the oxygen to form a thin layer of aluminum oxide which provides excellent protection against corrosion. It even attempts to repairs itself if the oxide layer is scratched or damaged.
Aluminum and the Automotive Industry
The auto industry has a wide range of use for aluminum, from the vehicles frame and body, to the electrical wiring, transmission, alloy wheels, lamps to the air conditioner condensers and pipes as well as some engine components i.e., pistons, cylinder head and radiator, cylinder head and being non-magnetic, this feature is well employed in deploying airbags, and moving the speedometer.
Traditionally, steel was used in automobiles, however, aluminum was introduced and it has provided the following benefits:
- Performance benefits
Aluminum is lighter than steel, and vehicles made from aluminum chassis have improved acceleration, better handling, and braking. Aluminum’s rigidity offers drivers with more precise and immediate control. Moreover, the malleability of aluminum favors designers to engineer car shapes optimized for maximum speed and performance.
- Safety benefits
Aluminum’s high tensile strength enables it to absorb twice as much energy in a crash than steel. Aluminum can, therefore, be used to increase a vehicle’s size and energy absorption capacity in the front and back crumple zones, further enhancing safety without increasing the weight of the vehicles.
- Fuel efficiency
Vehicles fitted with aluminum components or made out of aluminum are lighter than their steel counterparts. Their lightness makes them fast and there is no weight being dragged behind saving fuel consumption. Similarly, when aluminum is used in hybrid heavy vehicles like a diesel truck, fuel efficiency is clearly noted.
- Environmental benefits
Aluminum is easily recycled and it requires less energy to do so. Recycling aluminum also leaves little CO2 footprints compared to recycling steel. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, aluminum is fuel efficient, meaning a huge drop in fossil fuel use and subsequently reduced carbon IV oxide emissions.
Aluminum vehicles benefit from the durability feature. They require fewer repairs from corrosion and rust and enjoy an increased lifespan.
Aluminum Flexible Tubes
In vehicle manufacturing, aluminum has proven to be the leading material for specialized tubing and insulation. Flexible tube products made from aluminum include:
Air distribution – Air distribution tubes are designed to distribute hot and cold air to appropriate destinations. More so, if you have a specialized vehicle which requires superior flexibility in air duct tubing.
Exhaust Pipes – These tubes are folded spiral-seam pipes made of high-grade aluminum and due to their high-temperature resistance, they can be used to rout the exhaust gases in vehicle heating units. Moreover, their corrosion resistant property provides additional resistance from other aggressive agents.
Thermal Insulators – High-Temperature Insulating Hose (HT hose) aluminum pipes protects heat-conveying lines and further prevents heat damage to adjoining parts. Infused with fiberglass and double-coated with silicone rubber at the top layer, the HT hose doubles up as a self-contained and heat absorbent re-closable sleeve.
Energy absorbers – Energy absorption elements are typically aluminum-paper composite manufactured to protect against impact. The top layer is made of paper to prevent against rattling and these composites are currently used in vehicle roof lining, pillar trim, mainframe, bumper cover panel and beam, door panel, and knee bolster.
Heat protectors – Heat Protection Aluminum Tubes are made by layering several aluminum alloys and other materials like industrial-grade plastic and fiberglass with corrugations. The aluminum alloy’s excellent reflectivity property on the exterior reflects radiant heat, and additionally, its insulating ability protect the interior content from heat sources. These tubes are flexible but possess high dimensional stability, and can also be fastened or crimped easily at the ends.
Where to Find Aluminum Products?
Many metal fabricators lead the way in developing new aluminum alloys, coatings, combinations with other materials such a fiberglass and paper and treatments for a wide range of purposes.
With proper research, one can easily find a supplier of flexible aluminum tubes and hoses for automotive use.