Difference Between Alloy and Aluminum

Alloy vs Aluminum

Aluminum is a metallic element with a silvery white appearance that is found in abundance in earth’s crust. Though making up almost 8% of the earth’s crust, it does not occur naturally as a free metal as it is too reactive chemically. It is found in more than 270 minerals. Its main ore is bauxite which is mined from deep inside the earth. Alloy on the other hand is a substance that is a solid made up of two or more elements. It is not a compound as elements do not react to form the compound but rather remain separately within it. As such, an alloy always has different physical properties than the elements it is made up of. In its pure form, aluminum is not considered useful as a structural material as it has low tensile strength. However, when mixed with other elements, the alloys of aluminum show marked improvement in mechanical properties. As such aluminum alloys, because it is a very light weight, soft and durable metal, become very useful in construction and are even used in the manufacture of a wide range of products, including aircrafts.

In fact, and not many people know this, today a vast majority of aluminum products that are available in the market and referred to as aluminum are actually aluminum alloys. For example, the cans of beverages, though many call them aluminum, are actually alloys of aluminum. Aluminum, in its alloy form is of tremendous importance. It is used in almost all industries because of its physical properties. Being lightweight and also strength, alloys of aluminum are used for transportation, packing, construction, household items, lighting, cabinets of electronic items, power transmission lines and even as a paint in the powdered form. There are some countries that make use of aluminum alloys in minting coins in their countries.

Substances that are usually added to aluminum to make its alloys are magnesium, copper, zinc, and manganese. Iron and silicon are usually present in all aluminum alloys in the form of impurities. Aluminum alloys are classified into casting alloys and wrought alloys, both of which are used extensively in construction industry.

It is clear then, that aluminum is not an alloy but is mostly used as an alloy.

Summary

• Aluminum is a metal found in earth’s crust in abundance. On the other hand an alloy is a substance that is formed by mixing two or more different elements.

• In its pure form, aluminum has no use because of its low tensile strength but finds extensive use when its alloys are made by adding elements such as zinc, manganese, copper, and magnesium

• Today, aluminum alloys are widely used in nearly all the industries as it is light weight and has great strength