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Aluminum Alloys in Manufacturing

For industrial applications and manufacturing equipment, aluminum is an indisputable material leader. This metal is lighter than steel, stronger than stainless steel and half the density of copper. Aluminum is the top metal used in heavy equipment for industrial and manufacturing use.

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How Are Aluminum Alloys Used in Manufacturing?

Aluminum is non-toxic, non-combustible and virtually maintenance-free. With a high strength-to-weight ratio, natural corrosion resistance and conductive properties, aluminum is a better alternative to copper, brass, steel and other metals.

Alloying is a process that enhances the properties of aluminum. During the alloying process, other elements are combined with liquified aluminum to create or improve upon its characteristics. Depending on the application, the alloying process blends aluminum with magnesium, manganese, silicon, copper, zinc or tin. 

Alloy ratio and combination result in a series of aluminum products suited for different industrial purposes. Some alloys offer increased resistance to corrosion, while others provide increased workability in hot conditions. The industrial application determines the right composition.

Types of Aluminum Alloys

Seven different base alloy combinations exist for industrial use. These range in a series of 1000 to 7000, with specific digits resulting from different ratios and combinations. In some cases, alloy selection involves benefit trade-offs. Anodizing, painting and other finish treatments are available for added protection.

The standard alloys for industrial use are:

1XXX Series Alloy

1XXX Series Alloy contains a minimum of 99% pure aluminum. Due to their pureness, 1XXX series aluminum alloys are highly resistant to corrosion but susceptible to high temperatures. What's more, 1XXX series alloys with the highest purity are typical for food packaging and electrical use.

2XXX Series Alloy

2XXX Series Alloy blends aluminum and copper for a composite of superior strength but lower resistance to corrosion. Treating these types of alloys with heat improves the aluminums strength overtime. Stronger alloys, such as Alloy 2024-T351, are common in aircraft and the aerospace industry.

3XXX Series Alloy

3XXX Series Alloy is the most common type of alloy available. Mixing manganese with aluminum creates a highly malleable product with an extremely high heat tolerance. Moderly strong and workable alloys, such as Alloy 3004, is often found in aluminum can beverages. What's more, 3XXX Series Alloys are ideal for producing consumer goods and electrical products.

4XXX Series Alloy

4XXX Series Alloy introduces silicon to aluminum, creating a highly ductile end product with a low melting point. While this combination decrease the melting point, 4XXX alloys remain strong throughout the process. You can often find these alloys, especially Alloy 4043, used in the automotive and construction industries. Other common uses of this alloy include decorative architecture and die casting.

5XXX Series Alloy

5000 Series Alloy fuses magnesium and aluminum, resulting in a workable material with high tensile strength. Alloys in this series are common to the marine manufacturing sector, structural engineering applications and the automotive industry. What's more, Alloy 5182 is often used in when constructing aluminum cans for the beverage industry. 

6XXX Series Alloy

6000 Series Alloy includes aluminum, magnesium and silicon for the most flexible, most ductile alloy in the series. Additionally, this combination of materials makes these alloy types strong and protected against corrosion. Alloys such as 6061 have an increased delicacy making them are ideal for the making of trucks and boating parts. 

7XXX Series Alloy

7000 Series Alloy is a mixture of zinc and aluminum, blended to create an alloy capable of high performance under stress and excellent responsiveness to heat. Alloys such as 7050 and 7075 are both well-suited for the aerospace industry.

Contact Us for Aluminum Alloy Consulting

Aluminum alloys allow for advanced engineering of machinery and manufacturing equipment in the industrial sector. Aluminum and alloys are commodities subject to shifts in the market. Before sourcing your aluminum supply, find the best time to purchase and the best supplier to source from. HARBOR is the leading authority on aluminum market research, intelligence and analysis. Ask the experts — contact HARBOR today for more information.

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