With its many desirable attributes, aluminum is found in a wide range of architectural, structural, and general fabrication applications. If you work in an industry that relies heavily on aluminum products, it’s essential to find an aluminum supplier whom you can trust to provide the highest quality at the best possible value. When the underlying quality of your materials is exceptional, you can expect that your finished product will be exceptional too.
Here are some things to look for when choosing a top-notch aluminum supplier.
1. An Aluminum Supplier With a Wide Range and Scope of Products
A highly competent aluminum supplier will have strong relationships with trusted aluminum manufacturers who produce only the best quality aluminum material, follow strict manufacturing processes to meet high industry standards, and use cutting-edge machinery.
Aluminum is known for its durability, excellent weldability and machinability, and heat conductivity. It has an outstanding strength to weight ratio and good corrosion resistance. A good aluminum supplier will offer a wide product range that includes aluminum sheet, aluminum tubing, aluminum plate, and aluminum bar.
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Kloeckner Metals is a full-line aluminum supplier and service center. Download our aluminum spec sheet and check what Kloeckner Metals routinely stocks.
Aluminum sheet is used in aerospace and automotive manufacturing, but it’s also found in everyday applications like beverage packaging, storage applications, and housing siding, gutters, and roofing. An aluminum sheet is a cold-rolled material that is between 0.25 and 6 mm thick and comes in many forms, including diamond plate, expanded, perforated, and painted.
Aluminum tube comes in different shapes like square tube, rectangle tube, and round tube. Typically, aluminum tubes are used in industrial applications, including frames, marine lifting, aerospace, and structural components.
Aluminum plate is thicker than 6 mm and comes in a variety of shapes and styles. Some typical applications include components for the aerospace industry, structural components, and bridge components.
Aluminum bar comes in different shapes, including square bar, rectangular bar, hex bar, and round bar. It’s often used in the engineering and industrial industries. Some typical applications are medical assembly, structural components, aircraft construction, and commercial transportation.
In addition, a good aluminum supplier should offer different grades so that you can choose what you need for specific projects. In addition to offering you standard products, larger suppliers will also be able to offer products manufactured to customer specification and custom processing capabilities.
2. An Aluminum Supplier that Shows Product Expertise
It’s important that an aluminum supplier fully understand and have in-depth expertise with aluminum itself. Beyond being knowledgeable about aluminum’s chemical composition and physical and mechanical properties, it’s also necessary to be aware of practical considerations like storage and shipment.
Aluminum is a soft metal and can easily become scratched and damaged if it’s not stored or shipped properly. It’s also susceptible to damage from moisture. A knowledgeable aluminum supplier will know how to handle aluminum correctly and ship it with proper care.
An expert aluminum supplier will know that it’s important to not transport the product next to dissimilar metals without the necessary precautions. When you’re dealing with carbon steel, for example, carbon dust is always a problem. Aluminum can be transported with steel, but it needs to be protected so that carbon dust doesn’t contaminate it.
A good aluminum supplier will also understand how soft the metal is. It can easily get damaged when transported with heavier metals or when allowed to scrape against hard or sharp surfaces. Certain coatings can be applied to protect its surface during transport. It’s also important to keep aluminum in a clean, dry, dust and contaminant-free environment away from moisture.
3. Does the Aluminum Supplier Deliver Value?
An experienced aluminum supplier will help customers procure the quality of materials that they need for the most reasonable price. Ideally, the supplier will employ a consultative approach that helps the customer avoid unnecessary costs. This includes recommending material in an optimal sheet size to avoid downstream processing, choosing the correct alloy for the application or end product, and, if recommended, applying a sheet protective coating to prevent scratching during fabrication.
4. Excellent Customer Service and Delivery Performance
Buying the right materials for commercial applications can sometimes be complicated. While there are many aluminum suppliers in the market, they’re not all equal in their strengths. In addition to delivering product, a good supplier will provide excellent customer service and attention to detail when it comes to delivery schedules, and be there when things don’t go as planned.
Good service includes having a well-stocked inventory and information tools to help guide customers in their purchasing process. The aluminum supplier should be able to confirm orders promptly and complete complex orders quickly, efficiently, and accurately. Customers should be clear about what they’re getting and the details of their order.
Prompt Claim Handling
In the event of product damage, many service and distribution centers can be difficult to work with when it comes to claims. A reputable aluminum supplier will handle claims promptly and be accessible and easy to communicate with.
5. Does the Aluminum Supplier Have a National Footprint?
Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, if you have a need to source aluminum from multiple locations, it’s a good idea to look for a supplier with a national footprint.
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Kloeckner Metals is a full-line aluminum supplier and service center. Kloeckner Metals combines a national footprint with the latest fabrication and processing technologies and most innovative customer service solutions.