Aluminum is one of the most sustainable and energy-efficient materials known to man. The Aluminum manufacturing industry has cut its carbon footprint by 49% in the last thirty years, and this metal also boasts staggering recyclability.
Not only is aluminum the most abundant metal on earth, it never decomposes. While this is bad news when it ends up in a landfill, it does mean you can recycle aluminum an infinite amount of times.
Today, we see recycled aluminum coming back to life in the form of cars, soda cans, building materials, and more.
Nowadays, there are types of aluminum to suit every project. Keep reading to discover some of the main ones.
Types of Aluminum Alloys
Apart from its sustainable qualities, aluminum is also lightweight and strong. What’s more, manufacturers can alloy trace amounts of other metallic elements into pure aluminum to increase its versatility.
The Aluminum Association classifies alloys into various grades under two broad categories:
Cast Aluminum Alloys
Cast alloys of aluminum contain more than 22% of alloying elements, usually silicon.
You know you’re working with a cast alloy when it has a rating consisting of four numbers with a decimal point before the last one. The first number indicates the alloy used, as follows:
- 1 – no alloy
- 2 – copper
- 3 – magnesium, silicon, and copper
- 4 – silicon
- 5 – magnesium
- 6 – no longer used
- 7 – zinc
- 8 – copper, nickel, and tin
The next two digits describe the aluminum purity above 99% and the last digit represents the current form of the aluminum, i.e. an ingot (1) or a casting (0).
Cast aluminum is often used for the following types of manufacturing:
- Patio furniture
- Components of household items like small appliances
It’s worth noting that adding these types of metals and metalloids to aluminum in larger quantities decreases its ductility, causing increased brittleness.
Wrought Aluminum Alloys
Wrought aluminum has low levels of alloys below 4%. This helps retain ductility while adding corrosion resistance, strength, and conductivity to aluminum.
Wrought aluminum includes elements like:
- Magnesium and silicon blends
Wrought aluminum also has a four-digit identification number, without the decimal point. In these instances, the first digit refers to the following alloys:
- 1 – Unalloyed
- 2 – Copper
- 3 – Manganese
- 4 – Silicon
- 5- Magnesium
- 6 – Magnesium and Silicon
- 7 – Zinc
- 8- Other elements
This highly versatile category comprises most aluminum products, including rolled and custom extrusion aluminum components.
When choosing an aluminum alloy, you must choose one that has sufficient workability, weldability, and strength, among other things. There are many charts available online that indicate these qualities according to the aluminum rating system.
Alloys such as 6061, 3003, or 5052 aluminum are good for most purposes, but it’s important to figure out the specifics.
Finding the Best Solution for Your Projects
No matter what you’re creating next, there’s likely to be a type of aluminum that’s up to the task.
Yet, with so many types of aluminum to pick from, it’s best to get expert help when choosing one for your manufacturing process. An aluminum supplier or prototyping service can advise you on the best one for your needs.
For help regarding most other things, browse our blog for all the latest information on a wide range of topics.