Pure Aluminum –VS– Recycled Aluminum
As we talked about in our last article, the die casting process is environmentally friendly in three major ways – it uses less waste, offers high accuracy, and long part life. The most commonly die cast alloy, and one of the most abundant in the world, is aluminum. The physical and mechanical properties of aluminum make it an ideal choice for many industries since it is durable, corrosion resistant, low density, and has a high strength-to-weight ratio.
If die casting is so environmentally friendly, does that mean that all alloys that are die cast are also environmentally friendly? Well, yes and no. Let’s look a bit closer at aluminum. Recycled aluminum alloys are very environmentally friendly but pure aluminum is not. Why?
Pure aluminum actually used to cost more than gold. Not because it is a rare metal but because extracting it was (and still is) incredibly costly to do. Pure aluminum is extracted from clay ore called bauxite. The process basically involves carefully smashing the clay into a fine powder and separating the aluminum ions from the powder utilizing electrolysis. Extracting pure aluminum is energy intensive and detrimental to the environment due to mining destruction plus pollutants and large amounts of CO2 that are released during the extraction process. Though utilized in a few industries due to strict quality regulations, like the aerospace industry, Aluminum is very rarely used in its pure form because it also tends to crack and shrink.
Thankfully aluminum is 100% recyclable and approximately 75% of all aluminum ever extracted is still in use today. Recycled aluminum also only uses about 5% of the energy that is required to process pure aluminum. Aluminum can be recycled again and again without deterioration to its mechanical or physical properties – which means it will give the same level of performance as pure aluminum while being environmentally friendly and more cost-effective.
Most aluminum used today is mixed with other materials including copper, magnesium, and silicon. These other alloys help increase aluminum’s fluidity, elasticity, corrosion resistance, tensile strength, and hardness to provide it with even better mechanical properties. Recycled aluminum alloy die cast parts tend to maintain their strength at high temperatures, possess good thermal and electrical conductivity, are lightweight, and can be cast with intricate geometries and thin walls while maintaining their strength.
The benefits of using recycled aluminum to our environment include reduced energy consumption, reduced mining pollution, reduced shipping pollution, and reduced carbon dioxide emissions… all without sacrificing quality or strength. The ease of use in die casting combined with its environmentally friendly properties, lighter weight, and durability make aluminum a top choice for designers from nearly every industry.
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A&B Die casting is committed to environmental safety, sustainability, and recyclability. We utilize only 100% recycled materials and offer an exciting array of recycled aluminum and zinc options along with providing high quality secondary surface finishes and treatments (such as paint, plating, and powder coating for functionality and decorative appeal).
With over 75 years of die casting expertise, our team of experienced engineers will evaluate your requirements to help you decide which would be the best option to achieve the desired result for your part. Our in-depth knowledge and experience allows us to control the entire pre- and post-operative processing, as well as provide turn key part solutions with a variety of options, to meet your individual needs. Contact A&B Die Casting today to get started on your next project!