Aluminum Production

A single Boeing 747 contains 147,000 pounds of Aluminum!

Good thing aluminum is the second most bountiful metallic element in Earth’s crust after Silicon.

Aluminum is referred to as the “Miracle Metal”, due to it being extremely versatile, lightweight, durable, recyclable and corrosion resistant. This metal is a third the weight of steel, making it ideal for innovating flexible product designs. With so many unique characteristics, it has helped shaped industries ranging from consumer packaging, construction, aircraft, automobile and aerospace.

Aluminum production is an industry in itself, with aluminum sheets, plates and foils representing over 16.5 billion in shipments. It consists of several different stages.

Small look into the process and what goes in to making this versatile metal
Click the image for a larger view

Aluminum Industry Operational Areas

The aluminum industry involves companies operating in one of these areas:

  • Refining Alumina
  • Creating aluminum from alumina

    Primary reduction plants electrolytically reduce refined bauxite to form aluminum.

  • Recovering aluminum from scrap
  • Alloying purchased aluminum
  • Manufacturing aluminum shapes and forms

    bar, foil, pipe, plate, rod, sheet, tube, wire.

Storage of Newly Created Aluminum

Harvesting Aluminum Scrap

Aluminum originates from bauxite, an ore found in tropical areas.

EPA flowchart for various Aluminum formed shapes

Aluminum Forming Activities

  • Aluminum Sheet, Plate, and Foil Manufacturing

    Companies that flat roll continuous casting sheet, plate, foil and welded tube from purchased aluminum. Products are manufactured for finished products, likes ships and aircraft. Aluminum sheets make up the 3rd highest metal shipments from the entire Primary Metal industry.

    Aluminum roofing sheets

  • Aluminum Extruded Product Manufacturing

    Companies that extrude aluminum and aluminum base alloy basic shapes – rods, bar, pipe and tubes. Extrusions are used for forging and drawing to fabricate products like car bumpers, beams, and tubing.

    Extruding Profiles

  • Aluminum Forging

    Companies engaged in casting and pouring molten aluminum into a mold. Forged products are used as parts in machinery, aircraft and engines.

    Casting Aluminum

  • Secondary Smelting and Alloying of Aluminum

    Companies engaged in recovering aluminum and aluminum alloys from scrap. Out of all Aluminum sub-industries, this one experiences the most recordable injury cases. Manual handling of scrap metal is a leading cause of these injuries.

    Aluminum extrusion scrap

  • Various consumer products that utilize aluminum

    Motorcycle equipment, electronic equipment and automotive equipment, tubes, bottles, helmets, beverage cans, packaging, and trays.

    Beverage Cans

Aluminum Production Occupations

For all the wonderful aluminum products to exist, someone has to make it happen. Around 56,000 employees work with nonferrous metal operations. Here are the workers most likely needing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and safety gear:

Click an occupation to expand and learn more.

  • Computer-Controlled Machine Operators 

    Operate computer-controlled machines or robots to perform machine functions on metal. There are around 990 of these workers found in the Aluminum industry. You will find these workers removing metalwork pieces and installing metalwork pieces. Common job titles for this job occupation are Brake Press Operator, Machine Operator, and CNC Operator.

  • Construction Laborers and Extraction Occupations 

    Perform tasks involving physical labor at construction sites. There are roughly around 1,400 of these workers found in the Aluminum industry. You will find these workers using hand tools, repairing drilling equipment, and transporting materials. Common job titles are Helper, Laborer, Post Framer, and Construction Worker.

  • Cutting, punching and press machine setters 

    Operate machines that saw, cut, shear, slit, punch, crimp, notch, bend, or straighten metal. There are around 4,250 of this occupation in the Aluminum Industry. You will find these workers aligning metal parts and grinding out burrs or sharp edges. This makes cut resistant gloves a high priority for this worker. Common Job titles for this position are Die Setter, Press Operator, Machine Setter and Operator, Press Punch Operator.

  • Electricians 

    Install, maintain, and repair electrical wiring, equipment, and fixtures. Around 1,040 of this occupation found in the Aluminum industry. You will find these workers connecting wires to breakers and transformers, making dielectric and FR safety gear important. Common Job titles for this position are Industrial Electrician, Journeyman Electrician and Wireman, and Maintenance Electrician.

  • Extruding and drawing machine setters 

    Operate machines that extrude metal materials into tubes, wires, and bars. Around 3,360 of this occupation are found in the Aluminun Industry. You will find these workers loading materials into machines. Common Job titles for this position are Extruder Operator, Wire Mill Remover, Extrusion Press Operator and Metal Inspector.

    Employment of Extruding and Drawing Machine Setters & Operators by State

  • Forming machine setters, operators and tenders 

    Operate machines to taper, shape and form metal. There are around 4,260 of these workers found in the Aluminum Industry. You will find these workers removing dies, forging hammers and moving metal work pieces. Common Job titles for this position are Forger, Blacksmith, Hammer Operator, and Forge Presso Operators

  • Foundry Mold and Core Maker 

    Make wax or sand cores / molds used in the production of metal castings in foundries. There are around 1,040 of these workers found in the Aluminum industry. You will find this worker cleaning and smoothing molds, positioning wires, and spraying parting agents. Common job titles for this position are Core Setter, Core Setter, and Sand Molder.

  • Helpers - Production 

    Duties include supplying or holding materials, along with cleaning work areas and equipment. Around 1,700 of these workers are in the Aluminum Industry. You will find these workers attaching cables, changing machine gears and handling a lot of material. All of these activities make gloves extremely important. Common Job titles for this position are Laborer, Press Helper, and Material Handler.

  • Industrial Machinery Mechanics 

    Worker activities include repairing, installing, and adjusting industrial machinery. There are around 2,500 of these workers in the Aluminum industry. You will find these workers cutting and welding metal to repair broken metal parts. Job titles for this position are Fixer, Industrial and Master Mechanic.

    Employment of Industrial Machinery Mechanics by State

  • Industrial Maintenance Workers 

    Lubricates machines, changes parts, and performs machinery maintenance. There are around 3,380 of these workers in the Aluminum industry. You will find these workers cleaning machine and machine parts. Cleaning solvents, oil and metalworking fluids are a definite concern for these workers. Common Job titles for this position are Lubricator, Maintenance Man, and Oiler.

  • Machine tool cutting setters and operators 

    Operate cutting and forming machines. There are roughly 5,330 of these workers in the Aluminum industry. The majority of these workers are employed in Aluminum production. You will find these workers changing cutting tools, aligning parts, and inspecting metalwork pieces. Common Job titles for this position are CNC Machine setter, CNC machinist, and CNC Operator. Exposure to hazardous equipment is always a concern.

  • Machinists 

    Machinists are the workers who utilize the machine and cutting tools.  This occupation is highly skilled at operating machinery. There are around 1,240 of this occupation working in the Aluminum industry. You will find this worker operating machine tools to produce precision parts. Job titles for this position Gear Machinist, Machine Operator and Maintenance Machinist.

  • Material Moving Workers 

    These workers help move steel and other materials. There are around 5,390 of these workers in the Aluminum indusry. That is a large number of hands needing protected. You will find these workers operating conveyors, transporting materials, and operating machines. Common job titles are Laborer and Operator.

  • Metal and plastic workers 

    Operate machines designed to cut, shape and form metal. There are roughly 19,490 of these workers found in the Aluminum industry. You will find these workers fabricating metal products, lifting heavy materials and working with their hands. Be sure to check out our Metal Fabrication industry educational page.

  • Metal furnace and Metal-Refining Furnace operators 

    Operates furnaces that melt and refine metal before casting or for constructing various types of steel. Furnace types include gas, oil, coal, electric arc or electric induction, open-hearth, or oxygen furnaces. There are roughly around 2,920 0 of these workers in the Aluminum industry. You will find these workers draining, transferring, and removing molten metal from furnaces and then placing into molds. Common Job titles for this position are Melt Room Operator, Vessel Operator and Central Melt Specialist.

    Employment of Metal-Refining Furnance Operators & Tenders by State

  • Molders and Molding machine setters 

    Operate casting or coremaking machines to mold or cast metal. Roughly 1,040 of this occupaiton is found in the Aluminum industry. Common Job titles for this position are Core Machine Operator, Mold Technician, and Die Cast Technician.

  • Pourers and casters 

    Pour and regulate the flow of molten metal into molds. There are around 960 of these workers in the Aluminum industry. Around 56% of this entire US occupation can be found in foundries. ou will find these workers placing materials in molds, moving materials and manipulating things. Common job titles are General Caster, Foundry Worker, Furnace Operator, and Iron Pourer.

  • Rolling Machine setters and operators 

    Operate machines that plate, roll and flatten steel. There are around 830 of these workers are found in the Aluminum industry. Common Job titles for this position are Rolling Mill Operator, Mill Operator and Roll Form Operator.

In addition to Aluminum, there are 57,000 more employees that work with other nonferrous metal operations, like Silver, Platinum, Gold, Copper, Nickle Titanium, Tin, and Zinc. Similar workers, as to those mentioned above, are found across these metal operations.

"Working safely may get old, but so do those who practice it."

Our goal is to make sure you stay safe and live well into your older years. Whether an employee is working in an aluminum refinery, handling scrap metal or rolling copper, there are dangerous hazards workers face. Lets show you some of the safety gear designed for these hazards.

Common Aluminum Production Hazards

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