Aluminum Storefronts: Causation And Prevention Of Hydrogen Embrittlement

Running a successful and profitable business takes time and effort. On top of having an outstanding product, attractive displays are crucial in drawing in potential customers and client with studies showing that 54% of respondents are "strongly motivated" to make a purchase if the display or store is attractive.. With this in mind, you can give your business a makeover by installing aluminum storefronts from sites like Aluminum storefronts are vulnerable to a process known as hydrogen embrittlement, which can cause accelerated deterioration.

The Fundamentals of Hydrogen Embrittlement

Hydrogen embrittlement is a phenomenon where metals, particularly aluminum, stainless steel and titanium, experiences a loss of ductility and becomes brittle when exposed to hydrogen ingress. As little as 0.0001% of hydrogen in weight can induce hydrogen embrittlement. Small quantities of hydrogen can be introduced into the metal during:

  • the making of the steel.
  • processing of the parts.
  • welding, electroplating, phosphating and pickling.
  • storage.
  • exposure to contaminants in the environment, such as during anodic reactions that happen as a result of corrosion.

Interestingly, hydrogen embrittlement is negligible at high and low temperatures, and is most severe at room temperature. The strain rate sensitivity tends to increase at this point.

Hydrogen particles diffuse into the metals for hydrogen embrittlement to occur. Once dissolved, the hydrogen is present in either atomic or molecular form and will accumulate to the point where it is too large to diffuse out. This causes pressure to build up at crystallographic defects, which causes minute cracking and brittleness in the metals.

Preventing Hydrogen Embrittlement to Enhance Structural Integrity

Careful checkpoints implemented during the manufacturing process can greatly reduce the risk of hydrogen embrittlement. There are various preventive mechanisms that can be implemented and include:

  • reducing the corrosion rate of the metals. If the manufacturing process involves pickling operations that result in corrosion of the base metals, the risk of hydrogen embrittlement increases significantly. Extra precaution is required when choosing inhibitor additions that decrease hydrogen pickup.
  • Using clean metals. "Unclean" metals possess numerous voids on their surfaces, which becomes vulnerable to hydrogen embrittlement. "Clean" metals, on the other hand, have significantly fewer voids. In short, it is crucial that the manufacturers are using high-qualtiy metals to produce and manufacture the aluminum storefronts.
  • baking the metals. Hydrogen embrittlement can be a reversible process if hydrogen is removed from the metals at the end of the manufacturing process by baking them at temperatures between 200 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Not all manufacturers bake aluminum at the end of the manufacturing process, so you will have to inquire further for more information.
  • proper welding. The metals should be welded together with low-hdrogen welding rods in dry environments since water is the primary source for hydrogen accumulation.
  • adding additional alloys. Not all metals are susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement like aluminum. By adding alloys like nickel, the overall susceptibility will be greatly reduced. You want to make sure that the storefronts are made primarily of aluminum in order to ensure that the beneficial characteristics of this metal is still preserved.

By implementing several preventive techniques, manufacturers can greatly reduce the risk of hydrogen embrittlement, which can increase the structural integrity of the metals, and enhance their performance levels.  


You want to make sure that the aluminum storefronts that you choose are high in quality, and asking the manufacturers about their manufacturing process and the preventive mechanisms that have been put in place to prevent problems like hydrogen embrittlement can help you make a better purchasing decision. Overall, quality aluminum storefronts are not only attractive, but also well worth the price, and are considered to be worthwhile investments.