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architectural fabric structure aluminum frame being installed

One of the biggest advantages of Allsite polyester-coated fabric structures is the use of an aluminum frame. Aluminum is not only one of the toughest metals–it is also lightweight, easy to work with, corrosion-resistant, durable, and recyclable. For these reasons, aluminum is the metal of choice for many modern applications. For Allsite, aluminum allows us to create a product that is incredibly strong, durable, and delivers a product with exceptionally useful properties at an affordable cost.

Why is aluminum such a valuable metal for construction applications, like architectural fabric structures?

Properties of Aluminum

Aluminum is the third most abundant chemical in the Earth’s crust, making it the most abundant metal in the world. In addition to being a abundantly available, aluminum is desirable in many different industries because of its unique properties. It is a nonmagnetic, ductile (i.e. not brittle) metal, and can be easily reshaped without breaking. Aluminum is corrosion-resistant, able to be used in harsh conditions without breaking down. It has a low density, making it very lightweight, and can be combined with almost 270 other types of materials to create metal alloys which provide added benefits based on the intended application. When combined with other elements such as magnesium, silicon, pure aluminum or lithium, aluminum can be processed into an extremely strong metal comparable to steel is use and properties. It even can be used in electrical applications due to its conductivity.

.With its many useful and advantageous properties, aluminum is prized and engineered for use in many applications in fields like transportation, aviation, construction, and military usage:

  • Military industry: Found in military aircraft, Humvees, and armor plating
  • Aerospace industry: Used in airplanes, missiles and space shuttles
  • Auto industry: Second-most used metal in manufacturing vehicles of all sizes
  • Other applications: Used in a number of other applications, including skyscrapers, food packaging, and ocean liners

A Short History of Aluminum

 

square windows of old airplane with aluminum casing

Aluminum has a long history in the U.S., with common use starting in the early 1900s when American engineers began to recognize its superior properties.  Early on, it was used in power transmission lines and electrical elevated train wiring. Recognizing the lightweight strength of aluminum as perfect for aviation, the Wright Brothers used it in the plane used for their famous first flight in 1903. 

American businesses across the country quickly recognized the versatility of aluminum and used more and more it as they expanded across the continent. Aluminum played an important role in World War II, where it was used in everything from mess kits to aircraft frames, radar equipment, and ship infrastructures. More recent uses for aluminum include many familiar consumer products. We all know aluminum foil and soda cans, but it’s also used in iPads and iPhones as well as in the airplanes, cars and trucks we use.

The Amazing Versatility of Aluminum

In its various alloy forms, aluminum alloys provide a range of useful properties to fit manufacturers’ needs, from a soft and malleable form (like aluminum foil in our kitchens), to a form with added manganese, resulting in extremely high strength.

glass and aluminum window frames on highrise building from the ground

Other alloys have properties making them useful in marine environments, or ones can be easily machined, such as the aluminum used in aviation. Architectural aluminum can be easily stretched and formed into shapes with high tensile strength and corrosion resistance. Aluminum is so versatile that it now has a massive number of uses. It has come to play a key role in the creation of the buildings, vehicles, and products we encounter in our daily lives.  Aluminum is also remarkable in that it is reusable and retains its value, even as it is recycled from one use to the next. Aluminum recycling has become a big business and contributes to sustainability in the many industries that use it.

Aluminum Use in Construction and Architectural Fabric Structures

Recognizing its superior properties, architects and construction professionals have made use of aluminum for decades. With a weight one-third that of steel, aluminum has the strength to support very heavy objects, such as glass windows and it’s gleaming silver color has become a common sight in the window frames in high rise structures. This lightweight material is easy to manufacture into component parts, transport, and install. The construction industry also benefits from the fact that aluminum requires little maintenance. Unlike concrete for example, which needs to be cured in place, aluminum doesn’t require any additional steps once installed.

In addition, contractors and builders favor environmentally friendly aluminum in green building construction. Aluminum is highly recyclable and conserves energy, and so is considered a green product. Its use allows buildings to qualify for certification under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards as green, sustainable structures.

Aluminum is a perfect material in the design and construction of architectural fabric structures as it offers a material that is inexpensive and abundant, easily formed, and simply assembled into lightweight, durable, and non-oxidizing supports and barriers. The tension fabric building industry has benefited from advances in both aluminum and fabric technologies, resulting in extremely high quality and low cost building solutions for a growing number of uses.

Aluminum In Allsite Polyester Fabric Structures

 

Interior view of air-supported aluminum frame tension fabric structure

Recognizing the many advantages of aluminum where portability, durability and versatility are key, we use extruded aluminum frames in our tension fabric structures.  Allsite benefits from aluminum’s malleability, allowing us to design a highly engineered product that is the perfect, stable shape for our fabric structures. Aluminum frames provide not only high stability and strength, but also allow us to provide large and pleasant open interior spaces for use in work and play. Aluminum is also a relatively low cost material, highly durable and recyclable, which helps Allsite to keep costs low for clients who buy or lease one of our structures. Its non-corrosive properties means our all-weather aluminum framed-structures are appropriate for use in harsh outdoor conditions like mining, environmental remediation, aviation, and virtually anywhere the building is installed. Here are some more reasons we use aluminum in our tension fabric buildings and tent structures.

If you’d like to learn more about our tension fabric structures and find out whether they are right for you, contact our sales department today.

Author Jason Cromwell

Jason Cromwell is the General Manager of Allsite Structure Rentals. He has a degree in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Jason is a 12 year veteran in all matters related to Tension Fabric Structures with Allsite Structure Rentals and has over 20 years of sales, operations, and management experience. Read more about Jason and the rest of our team at https://allsitestructures.com/about/

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