Aluminium is one of the newest metals discovered by humans. It does not occur naturally in its purest form. This is why it was not discovered until the 19th century with developments in chemistry and the advent of electricity. Aluminium has gone on an exciting journey from a precious metal to the material, used by many, in various applications, such as jewellery, design, art, architecture, automobile, to name a few.
It was first used in jewellery in the 1850s. There was a brief period when aluminium was considered more valuable than gold. Before commercial electricity in the early 1880s, aluminium was exceedingly difficult to extract. Bars of aluminium were exhibited at the Exposition Universelle of 1855, and Aluminium jewellery at the Paris Exhibition of 1867.
The Washington Monument’s capstone was cast in aluminium in 1884. It was the first large aluminium casting in the United States and the largest in the world at that time.
The first large piece of art cast in aluminium arrived in London at Piccadilly Circus in 1893. It was a statue of Anteros, an Ancient Greek Good, popularly but incorrectly known as “Eros".
Another example of a bold statement by using an aluminium alloy was a Polish engineer Tadeusz Marek. He is known for his Aston Martin engines. In 1956 he designed his famous 3,7-litre aluminium 6 cylinder engine that was fitted in all new DB4 and the larger 4-litre version of the later DB5 and DB6 models.
Steve Jobs recognised both the beauty and strength of aluminium, creating a thin and lightweight product line of laptops, iPads and iPhones. It was probably the most elegant aluminium product ever made.
This lightweight, strong, 100 per cent-recyclable metal has become a material of choice in many aspects of life within less than two centuries.