The Evolution of Aluminum Foil I


Aluminum itself was first available in ingot quantity in 1888. The earliest production of aluminum foil was in France about 1903, by Gautschi, employing the classical pack rolling method of reducing metal to foil thicknesses.

Gautschi stacked a number of thin sheets of aluminum into a pack and rolled this between heavy iron cylinders heated internally by hot water. This was repeated each time with a progressively smaller gap between the iron cylinders, until the desired foil gauges were obtained.

In the United States, commercial production of aluminum foil was begun in 1913. As various early producers and consumers of metal foils became interested in the attractive material, both demand and production increased rapidly. By the end of World War II, eight plants were rolling foil. Today many more throughout the world are producing aluminum foil for hundreds of applications in this major industrial and consumer markets.

Ever since then, the industrial markets of aluminum foil include building and constriction, transportation, consumer durable, electrical, machinery and equipment, and containers. Together, they encompass such a wide range and large numbers of end uses for aluminum foil that practically every household and every art and profession finds expression in this adaptable material.

As a matter of fact, the first commercial use of aluminum foil in the U.S. apparently was for identification leg bands for racing pigeons, sometime around 1913-14. Quite understandably, no predictions of future volume sales for foil have been found in marketing histories of the time.

However, aluminum foil soon showed great potential for containers and packaging because of its compatibility and protective qualities, economical property, and its attractive appearance. An early packaging use for aluminum foil was as intimate wraps for chocolate and tea. In 1921, the first aluminum foil laminated paperboard folding carton was produced. Successful letterpress printing on foil was developed about the same time.