Aluminum Industry Solutions: Using Alloys to Boost Strength

When it comes to the aluminum extrusion industry, many years of experience and research have gone into developing the alloys and processes used to create the custom aluminum extrusions that consumers, manufacturers, builders, and other contractors have come to depend upon today. The third most common element in the earth’s crust, aluminum is the most abundant metal on the planet. It is highly recycled as well and does not lose any of its inherent properties, despite being recycled and reused again and again and again. Aluminum industry solutions are extremely versatile, with aluminum being one of the most widely used metals, second only to steel.

Different Types of Aluminum
There are many benefits of aluminum products, environmentally as a very earth-friendly material and economically, as a very affordable material to be used in manufacturing. However, when you look at an aluminum can and how easily it can be crushed, it can be mind-boggling to think about aluminum as being a strong and durable metal. It all comes down to the aluminum alloy that is used and the process that is used to shape it. Aluminum cans come from thin sheets of rolled aluminum, which is why they are so easy to crush, making them idea for recycling efforts worldwide.

The type of aluminum that we are talking about with regard to the aluminum extrusion industry comes in the form of large 7-inch billets made from raw aluminum of up to 99.9 percent recycled materials. It is used by heating it at high temperature and then forcing it through a steel die at ten million pounds of pressure to create a specific shape. While pure aluminum is very soft and ductile, aluminum alloys help to provide the higher strengths that are required for industrial applications. Even in alloy form, aluminum is still one of the lightest metals used in engineering and has a strength to weight ratio that is much more superior than steel.

Aluminum Alloys at Silver City Aluminum
Depending on the alloy that is used in the aluminum, there are many different advantages associated with these aluminum industry solutions. Some of the common aluminum alloys include magnesium, zinc, copper, silicon, manganese, and lithium. Smaller additions can also be made to include zirconium, lead, nickel, bismuth, titanium, iron, and chromium, again depending on the alloy and its use.

At Silver City Aluminum, we use alloys in the 6000-series, including 6005, 6063, and 6463 in a variety of tempers and thicknesses. Each alloy has its own unique mechanical property limits and typical mechanical properties, which contribute to the tensile strength and ultimate yield. The 6000 series contains added magnesium and silicon, which combine to allow higher levels of heat treatment to boost the alloy strength. It is considered to be one of the most versatile heat-treatable aluminum alloys, providing good resistance to corrosion and malleability that offers a medium strength. In other words, the 6000 series is excellent for the aluminum extrusion industry.

Other Benefits of Aluminum Products
In addition to the strength, environmental, and economic benefits of using this versatile material, there are still, even more, advantages to choosing to use custom aluminum extrusions across many different industries. Density, which we touched on lightly regarding aluminum’s high strength-to-weight ratio, is another huge benefit, particularly to the transportation, automotive, aerospace, and marine industries, where weight is a big consideration. Aluminum’s density is approximately one-third that of copper or steel, making it one of the lightest metals that are available on a commercial level. The high strength-to-weight ratio allows for increased payloads and fuel savings for the transportation industry, something that is a tremendous benefit in today’s fuel-conscious environment.

The addition of magnesium and silicon in the 6000-series helps to increase the strength properties of aluminum, making it well-suited to cold environments. In fact, unlike steel, its tensile strength increases at lower temperatures, while still retaining its durability. Steel can become brittle when the temperature drops. Corrosion resistance is another huge advantage of aluminum industry solutions. Once exposed to air, a protective layer of aluminum oxide forms almost immediately to create a protective layer that is resistant to most acids and some alkalis. Thermal conductivity is another benefit of aluminum products, which is about three times greater than the thermal conductivity of steel.

Custom Aluminum Extrusions at Silver City Aluminum
If you are in the market for aluminum industry solutions or want to learn more about how the benefits of aluminum products could impact your business, contact our team of engineers and technicians at Silver City Aluminum. We provide a vast array of standard and custom aluminum extrusions, providing our clients with the very best that the aluminum extrusion industry has to offer. Give us a call at 508-542-7200. We are located in Southeastern Massachusetts, but provide our services to clients all over the world.