How is Aluminum Thickness Measured?

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aluminum thickness

After you’ve got your project’s details ironed out, in choosing aluminum, it’s important to know what thickness you need. This is commonly referred to as the aluminum gauge. Thickness affects resistance and impacts various other aspects of aluminum. There are a few general facts to know about the aluminum thickness for beginners, including the following:

  • A sheet of aluminum has a gauge starting at .010” and going up to .170”.
    The thickness of a plate size can be anywhere from .188” and up.
    Sheet gauges are sold according to gauge or decimal equivalent. They normally require a caliper to determine thickness.

Not sure about what size gauge you need? Consider a calliper to start. A calliper is a hand tool designed specifically to measure the distance between two points. Fit the two tips of the calliper around the metal you need and you can accurately measure the thickness. This is a useful method when replacing an existing piece when you know the new sheet of aluminum will have to be identical to what it’s replacing.

Aluminum’s got a lot of advantages to it, relying heavily on thickness. For example, aluminum generally absorbs twice the crash energy of steel which means, pound for pound, you can use less and achieve the same performance in something like a vehicle where crash energy counts. Sticking with the vehicle metaphor, in a crash, the aluminum folds like an accordion directing energy away from the occupants. This is of course dependent on the thickness, however.

The more that one works with aluminum, the more they will come to realize the importance of getting thickness right. Precise measurements related to thickness are needed to ensure any product made from it is uniform, product quality is consistent, and that any regulatory standards are met. If aluminum’s too thin or too thick, this can cause major problems for manufacturers using aluminum sheets. This also can affect profitability for an aluminum producer.

For these reasons, an aluminum producer will use thickness measurement tools, gauging systems to provide accurate numbers, coating weight measurements, and non-contact and non-destructive thickness. Gauges are precise, real-time measurements of aluminum and aluminum alloys necessary in high-speed production. Through these tools, the finished products are guaranteed to exhibit certain mechanical properties.

Aluminum sheets of various thicknesses are used every day to manufacture a wide variety of materials, including utensils, solar reflective film, building materials, interior decorations, furniture, elevator decoration, street signs, household appliances such as refrigerators, audio equipment, smartphones, digital cameras, and more. Because aluminum is so diverse in application, there is no clear-cut ‘recommended thickness’. It varies entirely on the type of product being designed. As technology is still developing, aluminum thickness continues to adjust to new products and applications.

Although aluminum can be measured in ‘gauge style’, more commonly, it’s measured in inches. There is no official gauge standard for aluminum which can make it difficult to compare with other metals such as zinc, copper, and steel. If you’re unsure about what kind of thickness you require, you may wish to consult with what competitive products are using and to speak with your aluminum supplier as well. You may be able to get a recommendation from your supplier regarding what’s best to use.

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