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Aluminum Alloys

Aluminum Alloys
There is no denying that aluminum is one of the most popular metals that has a pivotal role to play in shaping the capabilities of the modern world. It has tremendously grown in the welding fabrication industry and is a notable alternative to steel. Being the most abundant metal in the world, aluminum is not only cost-effective but extremely useful as well.

Many people confuse themselves in thinking that is aluminum an alloy. While we see aluminum as metal, its ability to be alloyed with other elements increases its practical use by manifolds. Thus, aluminum comes in different forms, and the type of grade you choose depends on the intended use of the metal.

Aluminum’s versatility is not limited to its strength to weight ratio. The way it can take a variety of forms and offers a wide range of surface finishes also contributes to its utility. Several in-demand products like smartphones, automotive parts, and marine gear exist because of aluminum alloys.

Even under the most severe conditions, aluminum shows high resistance to corrosion. It is compatible with almost every method of joining, be it welding, brazing, or riveting. Aluminum is also one of the most recyclable metals, with a beverage can being recycled and re-shelved within 60 days. Additionally, the cost of finished aluminum alloys is low.

What are Aluminum Alloys?

An alloy is a chemical composition where two or more elements are mixed to enhance each other's properties. In alloys of aluminum, aluminum is the dominant metal in which other elements are added to increase its strength. The most notable elements are silicon, tin, manganese, magnesium, and copper.

Given a set of needs, there exists an aluminum alloy that fits the bill. All of them depict a certain combination of strength and ductility. Buildings, computers, airplanes, and other structures use distinct types of alloys that make them apt for the purpose they are supposed to serve.

The Aluminum Association Inc.
in North America is responsible for the registration and allocation of these substances. They have graded hundreds of such alloys. More than 400 wrought aluminum alloys and over 200 alloys in the form of ingots and casting are registered with the association.

The categorization of aluminum alloys is based on the characteristics of that particular material. Specialists take into consideration the primary alloying element and the alloy's response to mechanical and thermal treatments. Based on these features, they give alloys their identification numbers.

Cast & Wrought Aluminum Alloys

There are two main categories of aluminum alloys – casting alloys and wrought alloys. When it comes to wrought and cast alloys, the identification systems are different. The wrought system has a 4-digit identification system, whereas the cast system has a 3-digit and 1 decimal place system.

The key difference between the two main aluminum alloys types is their composition. Cast alloys contain more than 22% of alloying elements in the composition. On the other hand, wrought alloys have less than 4%. It may seem a trivial difference, but this percentage affects the material properties.

Low melting points and tensile strength are the most prominent features of cast aluminum alloys. Aluminum tends to lose its ductility as the percentage of alloying elements is increased, which makes cast alloys more susceptible to damage. Aluminum silicon is the most commonly used cast aluminum alloy.

Conversely, wrought alloys increase aluminum’s strength, improve its conductivity, and make it resistant to corrosion. A large number of aluminum products can be identified as wrought alloys. Elements like zinc, manganese, magnesium, lithium, magnesium silicon combinations and copper are commonly used in the production of wrought products.

Heat Treatable and Non-Heat Treatable Alloys

To strengthen the alloys, different methods are used that depend on their specific characteristics and heat-resistant properties. Some alloys achieve the required level of strength when cold-worked, but some rely on heat-treating. Hence, each alloy formed possesses a specific level of strength and serves a particular purpose.

In heat-treating, alloys are strengthened through solution heat-treating and then rapid cooling. An alloyed metal in solid form is heated to a specific point that causes the alloy element (called solute) to homogeneously distribute within the solid aluminum solution. When the metal is quenched rapidly, the solute atoms are frozen at their places.

Another method to give aluminum alloys their strengthened form is cold-working. Usually, rolling or forging methods are used to enhance the strength of the metal. When aluminum is gauged into thinner pieces, it becomes stronger. Cold-working inhibits the movement of the atoms by building vacancies and dislocations in the structure.

The most important consideration in determining the use of alloys is static strength. Other properties like susceptibility to corrosion, degradation and toughness are secondary as compared to the minimum amount of strength required for structural performance.

Understanding Aluminum Alloys through the Grading System

Cast Alloys

You can consider these alloys to be unalloyed aluminum and commercially pure. They have exceptional finishing quality, welding characteristics, and corrosion resistance. Mostly these alloys are used in cladding corrosion-prone materials.

The primary alloy element is copper, but chromium, manganese, and magnesium can be added. Their strength and durability increase when they are exposed to elevated temperatures. Common applications are aircraft engine parts and exhaust system parts.

These alloys have their application in car wheels, aircraft fittings, and compressor parts. Copper, silicon, and magnesium are the main alloying elements that make these alloys strong, resistant to wear, and susceptible to heat treatment.

Only silicon is the alloying element in this series. Not only are they non-heat treatable but have great casting qualities too. Common used include cookware, bridge railing support, and pump casings.

Being resistant to corrosion, the surface of alloys belonging to this series has nice aesthetics when anodized. The primary alloying element is magnesium, and the most common use is sand-casted parts.

Containing zinc as their main alloying element, these alloys are heat-treatable. While they may not cast well but do have machinability, dimension stability, and finishing qualities. Moreover, they are resistant to corrosion.

The 8xx.x cast alloys are not so strong, but they have wear resistance and machinability. Small amounts of copper and nickel are used in its composition, making them heat-treatable alloys. The most common application is bi-metal slide bearings for internal combustion engines.

Wrought Alloys

1000 series
The alloys belonging to this series have a 99% or more concentration of aluminum in them. They have high thermal and electrical conductivity and are exceptionally resistant to corrosion. Commonly used alloys are 1100 for food packaging and 1350 for electrical applications.

2000 series
Copper is the main alloying element in the 2xxx series. While these alloys exhibit high strength and toughness, they do not have the same levels of atmospheric corrosion resistance as other aluminum alloys. Aircraft Alloy 2024 is the most renowned.

3000 series
Falling in the category of non-heat-treatable alloys, manganese is a major element in this series. Quite often, small amounts of magnesium can be added. Alloy 3003 is apt for cooking utensils, whereas alloy 3004 is used in beverage cans.

4000 series
Moderate quantities of silicon are added to aluminum so that its melting point is lowered without producing brittleness. Alloy 4043 is widely used for welding 6000 series alloys for automotive and structural applications.

5000 series
One of the widely used alloy elements for aluminum is magnesium, which is the primary agent in the 5000 series. These alloys exhibit resistance to corrosion and good weldability, making them ideal for marine environments. Common applications include alloy 5052 in electronics and 5083 in marine applications.

6000 series
The extrusion products from the 6000 series are primary materials in architectural applications. The most popular is alloy 6061, which is also used in frames of trucks and marines. Silicon and magnesium are the main components in this series.

7000 series
This aluminum alloy is formed from zinc. When magnesium is added in a reasonable amount, the resulting material becomes very strong and heat-resistant. Alloys 7050 and 7075 are used in the aircraft industry.

Aluminum Alloys at BK-ALPROF

Since 1999, BK-ALPROF is a well-known aluminum profile manufacturer in Russia. Functioning as a world-class aluminum extrusion company, we supply profiles of all sizes and shapes that are manufactured using value-added fabrication technologies. The quality of raw materials complies with international standards and our facilities are equipped with modern technological machinery.

BK-ALPROF’s forte is coating and anodizing aluminum shapes, casting solid extrusion billets, and producing translucent structures. Usually, alloys 6060 and 6063 are used for most of the manufacturing. We take pride in producing such superior qualities that cannot be matched by any of their competitors.

The durability and aesthetic appeal of our products last for decades, even when continuously exposed to moderate climatic conditions. Our affordable prices, friendly delivery terms, and the ability to customize the product according to the client make BK-ALPROF stand out in the field.

Assess your needs and get in touch with the custom design team, and your order will be delivered to you as soon as twenty days.