How Aluminum Plates and Sheets are Made

Aluminum Plates and Sheets

A lot of products use aluminum, and a lot of items on this site use aluminum plates. Ever wonder how aluminum plates are manufactured? Ever ask yourself how the plates you are using for your business first came about?

The journey for aluminum plates and sheets start with the mining of the mineral used to create this metal. Bauxite, which is the raw material where aluminum comes from, is in clay-like type soil. This is usually found only a few meters underneath the ground and is most abundant around the equator.

Once the bauxite is mined, it is washed off of any clay sticking to it then ground up and prepared for the extraction of aluminum oxide, or alumina. In order to extract the alumina from the crushed bauxite, a process that involves a mixture of hot caustic soda and lime is used. The result of the heating of the crushed bauxite and the purification of the resulting crystals is the alumina needed for the creation of aluminum metal.

The next step in this process is the creation of the aluminum metal. This is done with the help of carbon and electricity. In a process called electrolysis, using negative and positive cathodes made of carbon, the alumina is then converted to a liquid state with the creation of CO2. This liquid aluminum is then poured into different forms that produce sheet ingots or slabs, which are then used to create aluminum plates and sheets.

In the production of aluminum plates, the sheet ingots or slabs are first smoothed for these to get that mirror-like shine that aluminum is known for. These are then rolled through a rolling machine after being heated to 400ºC and this comes out as a thin sheet of metal. This process is called hot rolling. The sheets produced here are rolled into coils in preparation for the next stage.

The next stage for these aluminum sheets is called cold rolling. This is where these sheets are flattened into different thicknesses to suit the many applications these are to be used for and to suit the needs of various clients. These are also stored in rolls, just like the rolls that were produced after hot rolling.

These rolls undergo different finishing processes where different types of aluminum are produced. This is where annealing, surface treatments and many more are done. Before these are shipped out to the respective companies that ordered them, inspection is conducted to ensure that these aluminum plates and sheets are of the right quality.