Types of Aluminum Alloys: Understand Different Aluminum Grades

Author: Geym

Mar. 07, 2024

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Tags: Minerals & Metallurgy

Seven different base alloys are pairing available for industrial use between the ranges of 1xxx to 7xxx. Each with a unique digit combination and varying proportions and pairing. Here is the standard aluminum alloys list for industrial use:

1xxx Series

This alloy class is known as the pure aluminum series because it comprises 99 % or more pure aluminum. These alloys offer precisely 10 to 27 ksi ultimate tensile strength. They are generally weldable but not heat-treatable because they are vulnerable to high temperatures.

These alloys possess excellent electrical and thermal conductivity. Additionally, its excellent resistance to corrosion makes it an ideal choice for making chemical tanks and piping.

2xxx Series

Copper is the primary alloying element in the 2xxx series, with significant proportions of magnesium, manganese, silicon, and other elements. Copper, the primary alloying element of the 2xxx series aluminum grade, has an ultimate tensile strength of 27 to 62 ksi. These grades have high machinability and maintain great strength at a wide temperature margin, making them suitable for the aerospace industry.

Although the 2xxx series alloys are strong and tough, they have a low resistance to corrosion than other aluminum alloy types. As a result, you may consider coating or painting these aluminum alloys to improve their longevity.

3xxx Series

The 3xxx series aluminum grade contains magnesium and manganese as the primary alloying element. It gives the aluminum grade outstanding mechanical strength, which it maintains at a wide range of temperatures than pure aluminum.

These aluminum grades are usually not heat-treatable and have ultimate tensile strength within a range of 16 to 41 ksi. Alloy 3004 is an excellent example of an alloy suitable for packing consumer goods from this class.

4xxx Series

The 4xxx series aluminum grade is the only category comprising heat-treatable and non-heat-treatable aluminum alloys. When added to aluminum, silicon, as the primary alloying element, reduces melting points and improves the fluidity of 4xxx series alloys in their molten/liquid form. Although silicon is naturally non-heat treatable, some silicon alloys contain copper or magnesium, making them respond positively to heat treatment.

5xxx Series

5xxx series have magnesium as its principal alloying element. These aluminum alloy grades are usually very strong, highly corrosion and alkaline resistant, perfect for marine applications, and can be readily welded. Due to their high formability, they are easy to sheet metal stamp, bend, roll form, draw, and spin.

Aluminum 5083 is an excellent example of a 5xxx series aluminum grade commonly used for industrial applications due to its resistance to seawater and various industrial chemicals.

6xxx Series

The 6xxx alloys comprise magnesium and silicon, which form magnesium silicide. These aluminum-grade alloys are highly formable, weldable, and compatible with heat treatment. The 6061 alloy is the most common aluminum alloy in the 6xxx series, with excellent corrosion resistance and good strength. As a result, it is commonly used to create boat and truck frames.

Grade 1000

The 1000 series grades of aluminium are the purest out of all the commercial aluminium grades. Each and every grade in the 1000 series contains a minimum of 99% pure aluminium within it. This high aluminium content gives the 1000 series grades exceptional resistance strength.

Grade 1050 is the most common grade of aluminium sheet available in the UK. Grade 1050 aluminium has the lowest strength of all the commercial grades of aluminium. It is most commonly available in H14 temper, which in technical terms is classed as half hard. 1050H14 is an extremely ductile grade of aluminium, and therefore it is most commonly used by fabricators and sheet metal workers who will bend and form the sheet into a requested shape.

Grade 2000

A commonly used alloy with excellent corrosion resistance and moderate strength, suitable for applications requiring formability and weldability.

The 2000 series grades are known as the copper grades of aluminium, copper being the main alloying element. The addition of copper increases the alloys strength and hardness, which in turn improves its machinability.

Grade 2011 is a high performance, high strength aluminium alloy. Grade 2011 is usually supplied in round bars.

Grade 2014 is a high strength aluminium alloy, supplied in bar and plate form. It has excellent machinability and is often interchanged with grade 2011.

WE DONT STOCK THIS GRADE, BUT IT CAN BE ORDERED IN

3000-grade aluminum: An alloy primarily known for its manganese content, offering enhanced strength and excellent corrosion resistance, often used in marine and chemical environments.

4000-grade aluminum: Typically utilised for welding applications due to its high silicon content, providing good fluidity and minimal shrinkage, particularly suitable for automotive and aerospace industries.

Grade 5000

Magnesium is the main element used in the composition of the 5000 series grades of aluminium. The 5000 series grades of aluminium are non heat-treatable alloys. The 5000 series grades also have excellent resistance to corrosion caused by saltwater, for this reason they are often referred to as the Marine Grades of aluminium.

Grade 5083 has the highest strength of all of the non heat treatable alloys, although it is not as strong or as hard as the more common grade 6082.  Grade 5083 is primarily available in plate form, and is most commonly available in O condition.

Grade 5754 is a medium strength alloy. For comparison it is not a strong as grades 6082 or 5083, but 5754 is stronger than grade 5251. Grade 5754 is most commonly used to produce aluminium 5 bar treadplate (often referred to as aluminium chequer plate).

Grade 5251 is a medium strength alloy, usually supplied in sheet form, and is most commonly supplied in temper H22. Previously known as NS4, grade 5251 has many similar attributes to grade 1050 aluminium sheet and is probably the 2nd most popular grade of aluminium sheet used in the UK today.

 

Grade 6000

The 6000 grades of aluminium are also known as the magnesium and silicon grades. Magnesium and silicon are the two main alloying constituents in all 6000 grades and specifications of aluminium.

Grade 6082 is the most common grade of commercial aluminium sections & plates, whilst T6 is the most common temper.

Grade 6063 is a medium strength alloy, it is the most common grade of aluminium for extruding. As far as commercial aluminium sections are concerned, T6 is the most common temper available.

Grade 6061 aluminium is a medium strength aluminium alloy that is predominantly produced for the American market. Grade 6082 is the nearest equivalent grade to this that is readily available in the UK, with very slight differences between the two.

 

 

Grade 7000

Known as the zinc grades – zinc being the largest alloying element, the 7000 series grades are the hardest and strongest commercial grades of aluminium.

Grade 7075 is the most common of the 7000 series grades.  It is an extremely high strength alloy;  the strongest of all commercial grades of aluminium. In fact, grade 7075 aluminium is stronger than many types of mild steel.

WE DONT STOCK THIS GRADE, BUT IT CAN BE ORDERED IN

8000-grade aluminum: An advanced alloy featuring lithium as the primary alloying element, offering exceptional strength-to-weight ratio and stiffness, predominantly used in aerospace and transportation sectors for lightweight structural components.

Other Grades

A common misconception is that there is an “Aerospace grade” or “Aircraft spec” of aluminium.  Various grades of aluminium from (but not limited to) the 1000 series, 2000 series, 5000 series, 6000 series and 7000 series grades of aluminium are routinely used in the aerospace industry. The aerospace industry does have a greater demand for harder grades, such as 7075, 2011, 2014, 6061 & 6082 than many other industries do, however the exact grade or specification used is very much dependant on the application.  Today phrases such as “Aircraft aluminium”, “Aerospace aluminium”, “Aerospace grade aluminium” and “Aircraft spec aluminium” are generic terms used by the masses to describe a hard, machinable aluminium alloy.

Dural is an obsolete trade name for a heat treatable aluminium copper alloy.  Also known as Duralumin, Duraluminium, Duralum & Duralium, the original Dural contained around 4 – 5% copper, 0.5 – 1% Manganese and 0.5 – 1.5% Magnesium which makes it very close in composition to grades 2014 & 2024.  Today the term “Dural” is often used as a generic term to describe any type of aluminium that has good strength and is suitable for machining.

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Types of Aluminum Alloys: Understand Different Aluminum Grades

Aluminium Grades Overview

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