Aluminium Plate is made by passing the metal through high pressure rollers so the metal is forced into a thinner, longer shape, a remarkably simple process that is also used to create Aluminium Sheet and Aluminium Foil.
Here are some key details.
Aluminium plate, foil and sheet thicknesses
Unlike many metals, which fatigue more easily, it is perfectly possible to roll and re-roll Aluminium until it’s exactly the right gauge for your needs. The rolling process dictates whether the end product will be plate, which is usually a quarter of an inch or more in thickness, or sheet, which is usually anywhere between 0.249 and 0.006 inches thick, or even foil at less than 0.0079 of an inch thick. The thickness of foil and sheet sometimes overlap by 0.006-0.0079 of an inch, with products within the range either supplied to sheet or foil specifications.
The aluminium plate production process
Even as experienced aluminium stockists, we still find Aluminium Plate production impressive, you can check it out for yourself here. The rolling process kicks off with massive, pre-heated metal sheet ingots weighing as much as 20 tons.
The ingots tend to be around six feet wide, twenty feet long and over two feet thick. They’re fed into a breakdown mill and rolled back and forth until the metal reaches the right thickness. To make the finished item as strong and durable as possible, the plate is heat-treated then cooled rapidly in a process called ‘quenching’.
Stretching and straightening the metal at this stage relieves the build-up of internal stresses, then the plate is trimmed to size and ‘aged’ at a predetermined temperature to give it the properties required.
Aluminium Plate destined to become sheet or foil gets trimmed after leaving the breakdown mill, then put through what’s called a ‘continuous mill’ to make it even thinner before it is coiled and heated again in a furnace to soften it ready for ‘cold rolling’. Cold rolling is often the final stage in the sheet production process but for other applications, extra heat treatment increases the material’s strength even more.
Aluminium Plate applications
Aluminium Plate is used for heavy-duty applications, often in the aerospace, machinery and transport sectors. It can be machined into shape to skin jumbo jets and spaceship fuel tanks, storage tanks and other industrial containers and because some aluminium alloys get even stronger when they are very cold, it’s very good at containing super-chilled substances. Aluminium Plate is also used for the skeletons of railway carriages, ships, military vehicles and security vehicles.
Aluminium Plate is the most widely-used form of the metal. It’s used in packaging to make tins. It’s great for vehicle bodies, trailers, home appliances and kitchenware, siding and guttering, awnings and rooves, used to make car license plates, small boats, road signs and a great deal more. Aluminium Plate can also be anodised to create a stunning finish in more or less any colour including gold. It can be etched easily to provide a classy matt finish or polished to a beautifully high sheen. It can even be given a faux wood finish or simply painted.
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