There are numerous industrial and commercial uses for aluminum, one of the world’s most common metals. Choosing the correct aluminum grade for a product or intended application, however, does not always present a clear answer. If there are physical demands, structural requirements, or if the aesthetics are important, aluminum grade counts for a lot. For most products, at least one of these three factors will determine which aluminum grade is right for you. Here’s a quick list of the most common aluminum alloys and what grade is most appropriate for what.
Otherwise known as ‘pure aluminum’, this grade is soft, ductile, and has excellent workability. Applications with difficult forming are usually done with alloy 1100. It can be welded however is non-heat-treatable. It’s also very resistant to corrosion, which is among the reasons why it is a first choice for the chemical and food processing industries.
Sometimes referred to as ‘Free Machining Alloy’ (FMA), features include high mechanical strength and strong machining capabilities. For projects using an automatic lathe, this grade is a go-to. For complex or detailed parts, alloy 2011 is an excellent aluminum grade.
This is a copper-based alloy with extremely high strength and excellent machining capabilities. Aerospace structural applications are where you will mostly find this aluminum grade, chosen in part due to its resistance.
Alloy 2024 is one of the most common high-strength aluminum alloys employed when a strong strength-to-weight ratio is desired. This aluminum grade can be machined to a high finish. The corrosion resistance is relatively low in comparison with other grades, which can be an issue.
Alloy 3003 is the most widely used aluminum alloy there is, commercially pure aluminum with added manganese. The strength of alloy 3003 is approximately 20% stronger than the 1100 grade. Corrosion resistance is excellent and is very workable. This grade can be spun, welded, or brazed.
Among non-heat-treatable grades, alloy 5052 is a high-strength alloy with a fatigue strength beyond most other aluminum. It has good resistance to marine atmosphere and saltwater corrosion and is easily drawn or formed into shapes.
Of heat-treatable aluminum alloys, 6061 is the most versatile without sacrificing any of the aluminum qualities manufacturers’ value. It is strong corrosion-resistance, a range of mechanical properties, and excellent workability. It can be welded using all methods, furnace brazed and is a great option for products where appearance and corrosion resistance are needed.
This is known as an architectural aluminum alloy, with high tensile properties, excellent finishing characteristics, and strong corrosion resistance. In the interior and exterior aluminum architecture applications, alloy 6063 is what you’ll find used most often. It is also well suited for anodizing applications.
Alloy 7075 is one of the highest strength aluminum alloys commercially or industrially available, boasting excellent strength-to-weight. It is used commonly for high-stress parts, can be formed in the annealed condition and heat-treated as well.
As evidenced, aluminum grades vary widely. This is what makes aluminum so diverse and why different alloys or grades are used every day to manufacture aircraft components, architectural elements, automotive parts, chemical equipment, jewellery and art, cooking utensils, electrical components, piping, screw machine products, sheet metal work, storage tanks, and more.
You can always count on us for your aluminum needs. We have access to the most popular alloys, high-quality supplies and large inventories so that you don’t need to worry about running out or being without what suits best when it comes to making purchase decisions – just give us a call!