Aluminum — A Twentieth Century Material
*Although we do not offer supply only sheets of aluminum, we are happy to custom fabricate based upon your project’s needs. We selectively partner with vendors offering the highest quality materials available in many sizes and thicknesses. Please call for details.
A century ago, aluminum was considered a precious metal, more precious than gold or silver. Only a very small amount of the metal had ever been isolated. Aluminum was so rare and hard to come by that Napoleon III treated his most honored dinner guests to forks and spoons made from this metal. Second-rate guests had to struggle through their meal using mere gold or silver cutlery.
Today virtually every new building uses aluminum. Curtainwall extrusions, window framing mullions, storefront supports, spandrel panels, siding and roofing panels, louvers and many other common architectural products are made from this versatile material.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ALUMINUM
In 1884 the United States, considering materials to cap off the Washington monument, made a fanfare out of a small cast aluminum pinnacle placed at the top of the monument. At the time, this was the single largest casting of aluminum ever made. It weighed in at 100 ounces.
In 1886 a young American metallurgist, Charles Martin Hall, discovered that metallic aluminum could be produced by dissolving alumina (aluminum oxide ore) in molten cryolite. An electrical current was applied to the solution to draw the oxygen out. In the same year a Frenchman, Paul T. Heroult, discovered the identical process. When both men applied for patents, they discovered each other. The process is known today as the Hall-Heroult process, signifying their joint discovery.