Volume 42, Issue 2 - February 2007

Aluminum Citings

Make the Connection
Online Resources on Architectural Aluminum
by John B. McClatchey Jr.

Salespeople are information brokers. We are called upon to answer most every imaginable question regarding our product or service. Many times we know the answer. Other times we have to do further research. 

Now, with the Internet, it is easier to find information in a timely manner than it was in the past. When I am asked a question and I don’t know the answer, the first thing I do is go to the Internet. Whether you’re trying to locate a vendor or learn about a particular specification, you should take advantage of the wealth of information available on the web. While most major vendors have a website you can find through a search engine, I want to point out some other resources that you may not have considered.

Costly Questions

Right now, one of the biggest issues in the glazing business is the cost of metal—aluminum in particular. Different companies price their metal based on different indexes. The London Metal Exchange, www.lme.co.uk, may be the best website to gauge where the price of aluminum is going. The site allows you to click on the particular metal and it then provides the price per metric ton. While you are probably not purchasing tonnage, you will at least be able to see when the market is spiking, when it is leveling off and perhaps even when it is falling. The graphs at www.lme.co.uk/aluminium_graphs.asp, show the trading price of aluminum has been going up, with the largest spike in May of 2006. Hopefully, this information will help you understand the pricing of metals.

Anodizing Matters

 As an anodizer, our company often gets calls from people wanting more information about different specifications and even about anodizing itself. While we embrace the opportunity to assist our customers, the Aluminum Anodizers Council’s website, www.anodizing.org, is the source on information regarding anodizing. The site offers an abundance of information, but most people in the glazing industry will use it for two purposes. First, when in need of an anodizer, it allows you to search for one based upon location and anodizing process. Additionally, the site contains a reference guide that does a fantastic job of describing the anodizing process including details on different specs and sources. There is also a web forum where questions can get answered.

Specification Information 

Perhaps a spec you are looking at refers to a particular aluminum alloy with which you are not familiar. Then the Aluminum Association’s website, www.aluminum.org, may help you find it. Recently, I was particularly interested in an article explaining how using aluminum is in accordance with LEED Certifications and building “green” buildings. 

The online bookstore is also invaluable. The Aluminum Standards and Data book offers all the engineering information you need regarding every type of aluminum there is. 

You may also be looking for custom extrusion information or information on how a certain alloy is used. The website for the Aluminum Extruders Council, www.aec.org, has extensive information readily available about extruders, applications and technical information. 

Other Aluminum Sources

You all have probably encountered AAMA specifications and that group, too, has a website that will help you find what you are looking for (www.aamanet.org).

Of course, the website for this magazine (www.usglassmag.com) and the Glass Association of North America (www.glasswebsite.org) have extensive resources you will want to look into, as well. The GANA website Tech Center, for example, is available with everything from a glossary of glazing terms to AAMA, ASTM and other glass and glazing standards. 

Thanks to the Internet, you have infinite resources available. There are, of course, other websites that can help you bid and build the job. Many websites in the architectural metals industry will allow you to actually get quotes and even purchase online. 

Using the Internet shouldn’t replace picking up the phone and asking for help, but rather complement the phone call. By all means, please feel free to call your vendor; that is what they are there for: to broker information. 

the author
John B. McClatchey Jr. is an account manager and third generation owner at Southern Aluminum Finishing Co. and SAF Metal Fabrication in Atlanta. His column appears quarterly. His company’s website is www.saf.com.


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