Aluminium: it isn’t just for cans.
The boron group element is a strong and capable material capable of great strength and great flexibility – in fact, it is an ideal all-purpose cable, especially when alloyed, as it nearly always is in mechanical use.
Why is this? There are three mechanical properties that engineers use when determining the suitability of cable materials for wiring: cable elongation, cable flexibility performance, and cable bending performance. On all three measurements, inexpensive and omnipresent aluminium, when given appropriate chemical treatments, can score remarkably high.
Elongation refers to the ability of a material to stretch – something that is an ideal indicator of both the material’s ability to withstand physical stress and an indicator of its ability to work as a mechanical conductor. After annealing aluminum cables to render them stronger – heating the material and then cooling it slowly – engineers can measure elongation. In a test, aluminium cables stretched 30 percent more than their starting length. Copper cables, conversely, stretched only 25 percent longer – making aluminium an ideal replacement for copper.
Cable flexibility performance
Flexibility performance is measured by twisting a wire – in other words, using the torsion test. Ordinary aluminium wires are extremely friable, meaning that they are likely to crack and corrode, rendering them inappropriate for high performance mechanical use. Aluminium cables, on the other hand, are tough – and this toughness means these cables are safer to install and use for years.
Cable bending performance
It is also important to measure the cable bending performance – how far the cable will bend determines how flexible and easy to install it is, but also, often, how fragile it is. The bending radius of copper ranges from 10 to 20 times the cable diameter, but the bending radius of aluminium cables is a minimum of seven times the cable diameter. To keep the installation inexpensive, the aluminium cable layout space should be reduced.
Conclusion: Aluminium is frequently a top choice
Aluminium is frequently a great choice for mechanical construction projects. It’s very stretchable, elongating farther than copper. It has a low degree of friability when corded together in a cable, making aluminium safe to install and use. And it is not overly flexible, making it very strong and able to resist corrosion. Making the decision to use this element is, frankly, elementary.