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Information @ a Glance

General
  • Foil is a very thin sheet of rolled aluminium supplied in its pure form (‘commercial purity’) or in a variety of alloys and tempers which give a wide choice of tensile properties.

  • The thickness of foil ranges from the thinnest currently produced commercially at about 0.0065 mm (or 6.5 µm) to the defined upper limit of 0.2 mm (or 200 µm). Material thicker than 0.2 mm is defined as sheet or strip.

Manufacturing Process

  • Aluminium foil is produced by rolling sheet ingots cast from molten aluminium then re-rolling on sheet and foil rolling mills to the desired thickness, or by continuously casting and cold rolling. The continuous casting method is much less energy intensive and has become the preferred process . For thicknesses below 0.025 mm (0.01 in), two layers are usually put together for the final pass which produces foil with one bright side and one matte side. The two sides in contact with each other are matte and the exterior sides become bright. This done to reduce tearing, increase production rates and to help control thickness.

Applications

  • Aluminium foil laminates are also used to package many other oxygen or moisture sensitive foods, in the form of pouches, sachets and tubes, and as tamper evident closures. Aluminium foil containers and trays are used to bake pies and to pack takeaway meals, ready snacks and long life pet foods. Aluminium foil is also widely used for thermal insulation (barrier and reflectivity), heat exchangers (heat conduction) and cable liners (barrier and electrical conductivity).
  • Heavier foils made of aluminium are used for art, decoration, and crafts, especially in bright metallic colours. Metallic aluminium, normally silvery in colour, can be made to take on other colours through anodization. Anodizing creates an oxide layer on the aluminium surface that can accept coloured dyes or metallic salts, depending on the process used. In this way, aluminium is used to create an inexpensive gold foil that actually contains no gold, and many other bright metallic colours. These foils are sometimes used in distinctive packaging.

Market

  • India has large resources of high grade bauxite (the basic alumina ore) deposits placing it fifth in the world after Australia, Guinea, Brazil and Jamaica. Major bauxite reserves are concentrated on the East Coast along Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Today, India's per capita consumption of aluminium is below 1 kg. And while globally there are about 3,000 applications of aluminium, India has only around 300.The capacity for producing aluminium has increased consistently over the past few years and is now six lakh tonnes a year.
  • International metal prices are quoting around $1,400-1,500 a tonne. The slowdown in Chinese demand and lower consumption by western world smelters has kept alumina prices depressed, currently hovering below $135 a tonne. It is expected that prices of aluminium will stabilise around $1,550-1,600 a tonne and in the long term rise to $1,750.

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