As the most abundant metallic element naturally found on the Earth’s crust and the most extensively used nonferrous metal, aluminum and its alloys are extensively utilized across various sectors. These include building materials, aircraft construction, consumer durables, chemical and food-processing equipment, and electrical conductors. According to Inkwood Research, the global aluminum market is predicted to grow with a CAGR of 4.97% during the forecast years of 2022 to 2030.
On account of the metal’s unique properties, including corrosion resistance as well as high tensile strength and heat capacity, aluminum is used in a diverse range of commercial products, as well. Moreover, since it is also 100% and infinitely recyclable, the metal constitutes a distinguished part of the global foundational infrastructure.
Read on for a comprehensive compilation of the top 7 uses of aluminum spanning different industries –
- Consumer Products – Smartphones, laptops, flat-screen televisions, tablets, computer monitors, and other consumer products widely use aluminum, primarily due to its potential to dissipate and absorb heat. Also, since the material is lighter than steel and stronger and more reliable compared to plastic, leading market manufacturers are increasingly making use of aluminum in their production processes.
- Automotive & Transportation – With the automotive industry’s rising focus on fuel efficiency and minimizing carbon-dioxide emissions, aluminum has become a preferred material in the production of vehicles. The use of aluminum in the automotive & transportation sector not only helps enhance the vehicle’s durability and safety but also serves as a more cost-effective solution for manufacturers. Accordingly, as per Inkwood Research, the automotive & transportation segment under the end-user category held the highest market share of 03% in 2021.
- Electrical – The low density of aluminum makes it an excellent choice for long-distance power lines. Since it is anti-corrosive, ductile, and lighter than copper, aluminum can be formed into wires for electrical purposes with ease. As a result, copper wiring is increasingly being replaced by aluminum in transformers, in addition to the majority of all updated wiring systems. Aluminum is also being used in satellite dishes, fuse boxes, and sound systems, among other electrical devices.
- Building & Construction – The applications of aluminum in the building & construction sector include foil insulation, roofing, windows, doors, cladding, shopfronts, architectural hardware, balustrading, as well as guttering. Furthermore, aluminum is used for treadplates and industrial flooring, as well. Inkwood Research’s estimates suggest that building & construction is expected to be the fastest-growing end-user, progressing with a CAGR of 5.18% during the forecast period, 2022 to 2030.
- Foil & Packaging – Owing to its non-toxic property, aluminum is ideal for packaging food. As a result, high amounts of aluminum are utilized for the packaging of medication, food, and beverages, without causing any impact on their respective tastes. Aluminum also plays a vital role in repelling water, in addition to extending the shelf life of food items, as well.
- Household Appliances – Aluminum is highly energy-efficient and is, therefore, a suitable material for household appliances that use heating and cooling processes, such as air conditioners and refrigerators. The metal is also ideal for holding certain temperature levels, a key factor that helps create the efficient cooling that modern refrigerators require.
- Aerospace – The aerospace industry utilizes aluminum to build navigation instruments as well as aircraft parts. Moreover, the consumption of aluminum for manufacturing aircraft, especially in the United States and Europe, is likely to witness significant growth over the upcoming years. While the metal’s high resistance to corrosion helps to ensure the safety of aircraft and its passengers, aluminum is also used by NASA for its properties, such as lightweight and strength under tremendous pressure.
Aluminum Market: Trending Usage Combined with Tech Developments
Various technological developments associated with the use of aluminum and its alloys are emerging across the globe. For example, in the field of 3D printing technology, aluminum powder is utilized to print separate as well as fully functional parts that are intricate, strong, and capable of handling details as small as 0.25 mm. As a result, the growing popularity of 3D printing technology is a notable factor expected to fuel the demand for aluminum over the upcoming years.
Additionally, in the current market scenario, metal additive manufacturing (AM) processes, like selective laser melting (SLM), enable arbitrary 3D structures’ fabrication. Aluminum alloys comprise the material systems in this regard, and are also being favored in several high-value applications. In addition to achieving the objectives of lightweighting, part reduction, and increased functionality, AM techniques also deliver the advantages of potential savings on raw materials and minimal waste since it only utilizes the material required to fabricate the part of interest. Hence, such technological developments are anticipated to create lucrative opportunities for the global aluminum market growth during the forecast period.
Sustainability Factor | What Does the Future Hold for the ‘Green’ Metal?
Over the last decade, the world has witnessed a paradigm shift in terms of global consciousness. Besides, with the global economy rapidly transitioning towards a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable régime, the demand for energy-efficient, durable, and environmentally safe mechanisms and infrastructures are on the rise. In this regard, the 100% recyclability of aluminum, especially without any losses to the material’s property, makes it an ideal choice compared to other non-recyclable substitutes.
Accordingly, secondary or recycled aluminum holds tremendous market value since the scrap acquired from machinery, equipment, and automotive can be effectively reprocessed and used owing to its cost efficiency. As the reprocessing of secondary metal consumes only a fraction of the energy needed to produce new metal from the ore, this factor causes substantially less harm to the environment. Furthermore, given the fact that the mining of bauxite (aluminum ore) is highly eco-friendly, the surging adoption of the ‘green metal’ is set to be a major step towards a more sustainable world. Hence, these factors are expected to further augment the use of aluminum across various applications, thereby propelling the global aluminum market growth during the forecasted years.
What are some of the key properties of aluminum?
Aluminum is non-toxic, non-magnetic, lightweight, and non-sparking, with excellent corrosion resistance and high thermal conductivity. Moreover, the metal has a low density and can be easily machined, cast, and formed.
Which are the leading players operating in the global aluminum market?
Hindalco Industries Ltd, Rio Tinto, Aluminum Corporation of China Ltd (CHALCO), and others are among the leading players operating in the global aluminum market.