Aluminum is the third most abundant metallic element in the earth’s crust. It is mined from bauxite, which is aluminum’s principal ore and raw material. Due to its high oxygen affinity, aluminum never occurs in its metal state and has to be isolated through the Bayer chemical process.
The odorless silver-white to gray color powder is the end-product of the process. There are two main types of aluminum powder. The granular material type is made from molten aluminum, and the flaky aluminum powder type is from stamping the cold metal. The powder has a high melting and boiling point and a high hardness level.
It also has high conductivity and is resistant to abrasion. Powdered aluminum is also non-toxic following short-term exposure, making it one of the best drivers of the low-carbon economy. These properties and more have made aluminum powder a key material in the science, technology, and engineering industries. Here are some of the main applications of aluminum powder.
Aluminum powder is one of the main elements used in engineering ceramics, which are used in high technology applications like aerospace, biomedical, and electronics. These applications are used in environments that require thermal stability and wear resistance, which are properties of the Aluminum powder.
To make the engineering ceramics, the powder is mixed with an organic binder to help maintain the shape before fixing it. The mixture is then heated at high temperatures in a controlled atmosphere until individual particles fuse and form chemical bonds. It then shrinks and hardens into a dense and extremely strong ceramic.
However, this ceramic type should not be mistaken for ceramic kitchenware. This type of ceramic is made by heating clay and cement at high temperatures, while the engineering ceramics are made by sintering powder to form chemical bonds. Also, the clay ceramics are brittle, but the engineering ceramics, once heated and sintered, must be cut using diamond tools.
2. Military Equipment
The use of aluminum in making military equipment dates back to the 1800s, when the goal was to develop light but strong helmets and armor. To date, militaries are still using the powder for the same reason.
However, its strength and lightweight qualities have advanced since the 19th century and are today used on the body, vehicle, and aircraft armor.
Additionally, the military can save on fuel efficiency and shipping costs due to the same properties. The durability factor is the other reason aluminum powder is used in military equipment. Aluminum products are built to last because aluminum offers corrosion resistance, unlike other metallic elements.
This is critical in the military since most of the equipment is built to use in extreme environments they operate in. As a result, they have to get authentic aluminum powder suppliers.
Aluminum powder also offers high tensile strength and fatigue resistance, which is vital in the fuselage and wings of military aircraft. Also, as military equipment technology develops, aluminum’s electrical and thermal conductivity has remained an excellent asset, mainly for electronic devices and mobile computing.
Aluminum powder is also used as a deoxidizer in the steelmaking process. First, it is mixed with titanium or titanium powder and granite. Then it is calcinated at high temperatures. The result is a high-temperature resistance cermet used in explosives and missile technology.
3. Rocket Fuel
Aluminum powder is also an essential component in most chemical reactions carried out to make solid rocket propellants. The powder’s availability, high reactivity, and combustible nature, when used in large amounts, provide a significant thrust required to fuel a rocket.
This is because aluminum has a stronger affinity for oxygen than most chemical elements. As a result, it burns with a significant release of heat in the other inert substances like Carbon dioxide and water.
The price of aluminum powder is also relatively affordable and environmentally friendly. It is also easy to find a supplier for aluminum powder. That is an advantage since it needs to be used in high amounts when powering a rocket.
NASA’s space shuttle reusable solid rocket motors are perfect examples of aluminum being used as solid rocket fuel.
In 2009, NASA launched an aluminum ICE (ALICE) powered rocket. The ALICE propellant consists of nano-aluminum powder and water. The mixture is frozen to keep it stable. An aluminum additive can also be used in liquid rocket fuels.
Aluminum’s high melting and boiling point, conductivity, and corrosion-resistive properties make powdered aluminum an excellent component to use in electronics. It can be sprayed on the electronic to create a thin conductive layer and pathway, which saves time and manufacturing costs.
This is especially true for mass-produced devices like light-emitting diodes and solar cells. These would otherwise require getting an aluminum powder supplier that supplies large amounts of aluminum powder.
The powder is also popular in welding applications for its low cost and high melting point. In addition, its conductivity, strength, and lightweight characteristics allow for it to be used to manufacture aluminum wiring, cables, and transmission lines.
5. Medical Industry
Aluminum powder is used mainly in the medical industry due to its desirable chemical properties and hardness. For instance, the powder is a component used for prosthetic limbs, tissue reinforcements, and prosthetic eye substitutes. It is also used in dental crowns, bionic implants, tooth implants, and ceramic hip replacements.
Due to its non-corrosive characteristics, aluminum powder is used on most equipment and structures in a hospital. That is because most of these are always heavily sanitized and cleaned with robust corrosive cleaning solutions. Some of these pieces of equipment include:
- Surgical blades
- Surgical lights
- Hospital beds
Its lightweight property makes it a good option since it makes medical equipment transportation easy. This is important since the industry handles a lot of emergencies that require fast response. Also, on top of the weight, the high conductivity property is favored since there has been a shift to mobile and electronic medical machines in the medical industry.
Aluminum’s texture and strength properties also make it a good component for heavyweight medical product selections like clamps and saws. Though aluminum is not as strong as other metals, it has a good balance between the weight and strength that others lack.
When using aluminum for manufacturing medical equipment, there is no room for errors, which is why manufacturers need a good aluminum powder supplier. In addition, working with experienced suppliers guarantees good recommendations on inventory sourcing and other supply chain management logistics.
Aluminum powder has useful applications in different industries. That is because it is lightweight, has high conductivity, strength, non-corrosive, wear resistance, and is relatively low non-toxic. Some of its applications, as discussed above, include making engineering ceramics, manufacturing military equipment, and rocket fuel. It is also used in the electronics and medical industry.
As it is, aluminum powder is an excellent material to use. Remember, though, that you still need a good aluminum powder supplier to ensure high-quality material. Doing your research is of the utmost importance.