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Aluminum is a common metal used for both industrial and non-industrial applications. In most cases, it can be difficult to choose the correct Aluminum grade for your intended application. If your project does not have any physical or structural demands, and the aesthetics are not important, then almost any Aluminum grade will do the job.

We have compiled a short breakdown of each of the grades’ properties in order to provide you with a brief understanding of their many uses.

Alloy 1100: This grade is commercially pure aluminum. It is soft and ductile and has excellent workability, making it ideal for applications with difficult forming. It can be welded using any method, but it is non heat-treatable. It has an excellent resistance to corrosion and is commonly used in the chemical and food processing industries.

Alloy 2011: High mechanical strength and excellent machining capabilities are the highlights of this grade. It is often called – Free Machining Alloy (FMA), an excellent choice for projects done on automatic lathes. The high-speed machining of this grade will produce fine chips that are easily removed. Alloy 2011 is an excellent choice for production of complex and detailed parts.

Alloy 2014:  A copper based alloy with very high strength and excellent machining capabilities. This alloy is commonly used in many aerospace structural applications due to its resistance.

Alloy 2024:  One of the most commonly used high strength aluminum alloys. With its combination of high strength and excellent fatigue resistance, it is commonly used where a good strength-to-weight ratio is desired.  This grade can be machined to a high finish and it can be formed in the annealed condition with subsequent heat treating, if needed. The corrosion resistance of this grade is relatively low. When this is an issue, 2024 is commonly used in an anodized finish or in clad form (thin surface layer of high purity aluminum) known as Alclad.

Alloy 3003:  The most widely used of all aluminum alloys. A commercially pure aluminum with added manganese to increase its strength (20% stronger than the 1100 grade). It has excellent corrosion resistance, and workability. This grade can be deep drawn or spun, welded or brazed.

Alloy 5052:  This is the highest strength alloy of the more non heat-treatable grades. Its fatigue strength is higher than most other aluminum grades. Alloy 5052 has a good resistance to marine atmosphere and salt water corrosion, and excellent workability. It can be easily drawn or formed into intricate shapes.

Alloy 6061:  The most versatile of the heat-treatable aluminum alloys, while keeping most of the good qualities of aluminum. This grade has a great range of mechanical properties and corrosion resistance. It can be fabricated by most of the commonly used techniques and it has good workability in the annealed condition. It is welded by all methods and can be furnace brazed. As a result, it is used in a wide variety of products and applications where appearance and better corrosion resistance with good strength are required. The Tube and Angle shapes in this grade typically have rounded corners.

Alloy 6063:  Commonly known as an architectural alloy. It has reasonably high tensile properties, excellent finishing characteristics and a high degree of resistance to corrosion. Most often found in various interior and exterior architectural applications and trim. It is very well suited for anodizing applications. The Tube and Angle shapes in this grade typically have square corners.

Alloy 7075:  This is one of the highest strength aluminum alloys available. It has an excellent strength-to weight ratio, and it is ideally used for highly stressed parts. This grade can be formed in the annealed condition and subsequently heat treated, if needed. It can also be spot or flash welded (arc and gas not recommended).

For more specific applications, we have put together a table that will easily let you decide on what Aluminum grade to use for your project.

End Use Potential Aluminum Grades
Aircraft (Structure/Tube) 2014 2024 5052 6061 7075
Architectural 3003 6061 6063
Automotive Parts 2014 2024
Building Products 6061 6063
Boat Building 5052 6061
Chemical Equipment 1100 6061
Cooking Utensils 3003 5052
Drawn and Spun parts 1100 3003
Electrical 6061 6063
Fasteners & Fittings 2024 6061
General Fabrication 1100 3003 5052 6061
Machined Parts 2011 2014
Marine Applications 5052 6061 6063
Piping 6061 6063
Pressure Vessels 3003 5052
Recreation Equipment 6061 6063
Screw Machine Products 2011 2024
Sheet Metal Work 1100 3003 5052 6061
Storage Tanks 3003 6061 6063
Structural Applications 2024 6061 7075
Trucks Frames & Trailers 2024 5052 6061 6063

 

Want to learn more about Aluminum Grades? Consult our Metal Reference Guide or contact one of our +70 Stores across North America. A Metal Supermarkets Representative will be glad to assist you in choosing the best metal cuts for your project.

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