Aluminum Window Frames Offer Design Flexibility and Affordability
Aluminum continues to be a popular choice for window frames, both for its attributes and low cost.
As the American Architectural Manufacturers Association explains, aluminum is an attractive choice for many reasons:
Design Flexibility, Affordability
Aluminum extruded profiles can range from simple shapes to very complex, intricate shapes. Most architectural profiles range from simple to sophisticated as well. More than 80 percent of the aluminum extrusions used in window, door storefront and curtain wall applications fit within a 10-inch circumscribing circle.
Aluminum can be used for applications from small windows to large spans between floors and provides the necessary structural properties with a high strength to weight ratio.
The ability of aluminum to withstand wind loads and still retain its shape is beneficial in maintaining structural integrity while resisting water and air infiltration. This also allows the building to keep its desired appearance.
Aluminum provides enough stiffness to allow deflection with integrity and also allows enough deflection to alleviate strain on connections. For example, when it comes to blast resistance design, frames that are too stiff will blow out of an opening. Whereas some flexibility will allow a frame to maintain its integrity within an opening by the way it transfers loads to the surrounding building structure.
Reduced Shipping and Installation Costs
Since aluminum weighs less than other materials commonly used in commercial applications, shipping costs will be noticeably lower. For smaller shipments, the weight reduction will allow more flexibility in delivery methods. Costs are also reduced because of the ease of handling prior to and at delivery.
Likewise, installation will typically be easier and less costly. The handling of large sticks of aluminum can be done with one or two individuals. Other heavier materials could require the use of cranes. Once in place, slight adjustments to the fenestration are also easier with aluminum due to its lighter weight. The need for a crane requires added space beside the added cost. There is also the risk of liability due to heavier loads.
Economical Tooling Costs and Quick Lead Time
The extrusion tooling required to produce these shapes is very budget-friendly, usually ranging from $500 for simple, solid shaped profiles, up to $5,000 for a complex, multi-void hollow shape. Typical lead times for this tooling run from two to three weeks. Aluminum extrusion tooling can also be revised, in many cases, when minor changes in the profile design require modification, which is a real advantage in managing costs.
For commercial building design, confidence in a fenestration’s material choice is a mandate, which is why aluminum has been used in these types of structures for decades, but its ever-evolving thermal performance, finishing capabilities and recyclability along with numerous additional green attributes continue to make it a cost-effective, sustainable choice in all applications.