iphone aluminium
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Aluminium in the Oil & Gas Industry

Aluminium has had a tough time across social media and the mainstream press this week. This useful element has had to bear the brunt of many accusing it as being too weak to form the simple outer casing of a smartphone as reports of #Bendgate spread across the world.

For our blog readers who perhaps don’t recognise the hashtag, we refer to the recent technology story that a certain top selling, brand new smartphone was susceptible to bending out of shape (see video below).

Reports that this rather expensive device was losing its structural integrity first surfaced across social media before being picked up by the mainstream press. Many technology pundits were quick to blame the fault on the weakness of the phone’s casing which consists mainly of aluminium.

However, as many oil and gas industry professionals know, aluminium can be a strong metal when used in alloys and has long been used offshore, notably on helidecks where it can significantly decrease the topside weight of an installation. Using aluminium on offshore and onshore structures can also reduce the risk to personnel maintaining platform equipment without sacrificing quality material. In fact, aluminium alloys have the benefit of being almost maintenance-free due to its non-corrosive properties.

As with any material offshore, aluminium is rigorously tested to withstand any potential risks, including fire. In fact, the oil and gas industry fire test aluminium alloy helidecks to ensure they can withstand heat at an equivalent level to steel.

Knowing which materials are suitable to offshore installations and onshore facilities requires various stages of research and assessment. After some experimentation by online commentators, it’s been suggested #Bendgate could be down to weak points on the handset itself rather than the material used, with one deeming the volume buttons as the weakest area as there is no reinforcement around them.

As we highlighted last week in our blog series, collaboration must never be undervalued within business partnerships. Perhaps it’s time smartphone manufacturers began a cross industry collaboration with oil and gas engineers and materials specialists. If so, they can give industry a call – but maybe on a landline.

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