What’s ahead for aluminum?

By Lauren Duensing

November 2012 - Most consumers are familiar with a sleek aluminum enclosure for their electronics. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs favored the look and sustainable nature of the material, and he expanded its uses beyond his company’s products to a custom yacht, which was christened at the end of October in the Dutch shipyard where it was built. Named Venus, the yacht has a hull made entirely of aluminum, in addition to teak decks and a wheelhouse powered by seven iMacs.

Beyond individual high-profile projects, however, the entire aluminum market is headed in a positive direction. Demand for the light metal has increased almost 7 percent this year, compared with last year’s numbers, said Heidi Brock, president of the Arlington, Va.-based Aluminum Association during the Aluminum Week 2012 press roundtable. 

Pat Franc, Aluminum Association chairman and president and CEO of Tri-Arrows Aluminum, Louisville, Ky., noted aluminum is a “bellwether material” of the economy’s health because it’s tethered to many critical industries, such as automotive and transportation, electrical cable—even green building solutions, a market in which aluminum is poised for growth once construction picks up. 

Franc said aluminum can provide a lot of environmental answers, “from airplanes all the way down to consumer products.” Randall Scheps, marketing director, automotive sheet, for Alcoa, Pittsburgh, added recycled content will be a point of interest when developing new automotive alloys. “That will start in Europe,” Scheps said. “European carmakers will want to communicate to their customers that their cars have recycled content.”

He also said as a result of European pedestrian impact requirements, “we’re working on alloys that are more pedestrian-impact friendly. There are things you can do in the design of the sheet and the design of the front end of the car that can make it much less dangerous for a pedestrian impact.”

The amount of aluminum in an average automobile continues to increase, and Scheps said the aluminum mills must form partnerships with carmakers “to get the rolling capability in place in time to meet demand. We have to partner earlier with the carmakers to make sure from a rolling standpoint that we’re ready to deliver. … Because the growth is so rapid in aluminum, we need to talk to them a little earlier in the process to make sure we get the capacity in place.”

The road ahead for aluminum includes expanded applications in automotive and beyond. In addition to several interesting topics in this issue, we have highlighted aluminum in three of this month’s features. 

For an overview of the market, go to “Aluminum adaptability;” for a look at the aerospace industry there’s “Tradition and innovation;” and for details on manifold bar’s impact on machining costs, go to “Advanced aluminum.” MM 

Interested in purchasing reprints of this article? Click here

Leave your comments

  • No comments found

vert-current-linewhiteAPRIL 2015


- Safety
- Toll Processing
- Inventory
- Investment Banking




Modern Metals on Twitter


Industry Partners

Alloy Bar Products

Executive Search Services

Sawing Technology

Stainless, Nickel, Aluminum, Pipe, Tube & Bar

Sierra Alloys Leadership Search Group Advanced Machine & Engineering Prudential Stainless & Alloys, L.P.


Investment Banking

Amada Machine Tools America, Inc.


Channel Alloys Brown Gibbons Lang & Company Cosen Saws Central Steel Service, Inc.
Kaiser Aluminum

Laser Cutting Machines

HE&M Saw Pacesetter Steel Service, Inc.
Sapa Extrusions North America Trumpf Hydmech Parker Steel Co.


Laser Technology

Klingelhofer Corporation Steel Dynamics
Gerdau Special Steel North America Amada America, Inc. Lenox Summit Steel Corporation

CNC Cutting (Plasma, Waterjet, Laser, Router)

LVD Strippit Marvel Manufacturing

Steel Service Center

Multicam Inc. Mazak Optonics Corp. Sawblade.com Samuel, Son & Co., Limited

CNC Machinery

Mitsubishi Laser-MC Machinery Systems, Inc.

Service Centers

Thickness Gauges

Voortman Corporation Vytek Admiral Steel Advanced Gauging Technologies

Coated Coil

Material Handling

North American Steel Alliance


Centria Coating Services Combilift USA Reliance Steel & Aluminum Company TSI Titanium
Metal Coaters Samuel Strapping Systems United Performance Metals


Coil Processing

Steel Storage Systems Inc.


Carlson Tool & Manufacturing Corp.
Alcos Machinery Inc. The Caldwell Group, Inc. Compusource Corporation

Tube & Pipe

ANDRITZ Herr-Voss Stamco Inc.

Perforated & Expanded Metal

Enmark Systems, Inc. Independence Tube Corp.
Bradbury Group McNichols Co.

Stainless Steel

Tube Mill Equipment & Machinery

Braner USA


Rolled Alloys ASMAG USA, Inc.
Butech Bliss Allor Manufacturing Inc. Scan Tube/Nebetco Stainless


Delta Steel Technologies Churchill Steel Plate Ltd Stainless Sales Corporation Koike Aronson
Red Bud Industries Ranger Steel Venus Stainless NA

Welding & Cutting

Copper & Brass

Portable Analytical Instruments

Stainless Steel Service Center

American Torch Tip
Christy Metals Inc. Thermo Scientific Portable Analytical Instruments Comprinox


Farmer's Copper




National Bronze & Metals





twitter facebook linkedin rss