In Britain initially, its domestic uses were restricted to limited markets like those for kitchen utensils. However prior to 1914, the French, German and Swiss military had all found uses for the metal. The First World War transformed the fortunes of the metal both by finding new uses for the metal and prompting further research into aluminium alloys (the first of which Duralmin, had been discovered by a German metallurgist Alfred Wilm in 1908).
By 1916, aluminium was being used widely in Britain’s war economy for such varied uses as shell cartridges, machine guns, explosives, field canteens and components in gearboxes for military vehicles and aircraft. It was the use of aluminium (in alloy form) in vehicles that was to prove the most significant for trade after 1919 and beyond, although it would not be until the 1930s that aluminium alloys became extensively used in aircraft manufacture.
Aluminium was also aided by the growth of the electricity industry. In the United States, and later on in France and Britain, it was used extensively in electricity pylons and (with steel) in electricity cables.
In the second half of the twentieth century, it was employed even more extensively in every area from construction to transport – from Concorde to the humble beverage can.