Aluminum has been used in the construction of bridges for nearly a century. From the Pittsburgh Smithfield Street bridge built in 1933, aluminum has always been the ideal metal for constructing permanent structures.
The only drawback with Aluminum metal is that it can be a bit expensive compared to steel or iron. Even so, it is quite durable and can save you considerable repairs. Read on for a detailed insight into some of the main reasons why aluminum is the best option for constructing a pedestrian bridge.
Let’s delve in!
One main thing that makes aluminum better suited for bridge structures is its high corrosion resistance and density. Besides, its high strength-to-weight ratio makes it the best option when rehabilitating existing bridges. The lightweight aluminum deck structures can increase load-carrying capacity without affecting the bridge's stability.
Compared to steel, aluminum is also light and easily transported, assembled, and installed at the construction site. The lightweight nature also means that it will require small foundations and, therefore, an easier installation.
Another incredible feature is that it has high resilience, can flex under heavy loads, and go back to normal quickly. Additionally, unlike steel, aluminum functions best in cold weather. It becomes stronger at lower temperatures and does not lose its elasticity.
Aluminum's high malleability also means its extrusion profiles can be used in different applications. Through extrusion, its profiles can assume any shape to fit areas that require complex applications, such as tight spaces and hollow areas.
Canada was the first country to construct an all-aluminum bridge in 1950. Its cost was more than it would have had if steel metal had been used, but its builders expected the cost to be compensated by the lower maintenance costs. The pedestrian bridge is still functional and up to date; only small repairs have been done.
Aluminum generates a protective oxide coating that provides high resistance to corrosion and other effects of weather. It can flex under heavy load and spring back to normal, which makes it almost impossible to break or get damaged. Apart from that, aluminum does not need paintwork. Its silver color can last as long as the metal exists.
Aluminum is the most frequently and easily recycled material. It also offers the highest scrap value as compared to steel. You might have heard claims that steel has a smaller carbon footprint. They are true for primary aluminum produced from raw alumina/bauxite.
Most of the aluminum used, especially in North America, contains recycled aluminum. It represents a relatively smaller carbon footprint as compared to steel. Aluminum's lower melting point also means it is almost impossible to lose its quality or inherent properties during recycling.
Aluminum is common in suspension bridges. The bridge gets its name because it is hung with suspension cables with vertical suspenders anchored on each end. Rafters are aluminum extrusion parts used in the construction of a suspension bridge.
Steel was the dominant material used in the construction of suspension bridges. But as people discovered the advantage of aluminum, it is common in the construction of suspension bridges today. There are also research consortiums that are designed to look at the cost and feasibility of substituting the use of steel with aluminum.
This goes without saying- the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of any aluminum structure is quite lower. Its high durability means you will save quite a considerable amount of money on repairs and maintenance.
Although the initial cost of constructing an aluminum pedestrian bridge is a bit high, the ongoing costs of maintenance and repairs are lower. A well-constructed aluminum pedestrian bridge has a lifespan of up to 100 years. It does not have to be galvanized or painted. All you need is a good aluminum extrusion profile that fits perfectly for maximum durability.
Both aluminum and steel are excellent materials in the construction of pedestrian bridges. However, aluminum is the way to go if you are looking for a bridge that will ensure durability with a lower maintenance cost. Your initial investment will be high but will pay off in the long run. Seek the services of a professional metal extrusion company to help your get your project started.
Are you looking for a metal extrusion company for your bridge project? Contact us for quality services, and let us provide you with a long-lasting solution with quality materials.
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