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Your Guide for Choosing the Right Aluminum Grade

esther.diaz June 29, 2018

In the Philippines, aluminum profile, color, finish, longevity, durability, and cost are important factors in choosing the right kind of aluminum. However, one factor that isn’t always taken into consideration but is just as important is aluminum grade.

Depending on how it is made and treated, aluminum grades can exhibit several different properties from weldability, machinability, corrosion resistance, and more. It is important to factor these in especially if you’re making a specific product. But since there’s a wide variety of aluminum grades available, choosing the right one can be tough.

Ultimately, it should depend on how you intend to use the material and the working conditions in which it will be placed. In this article, we will be enumerating the different kinds of aluminum grades and their ideal uses in order to help you decide which one to get.

Aluminum Grade Series 1xxx

The 1xxx series of aluminum alloys is often referred to as the commercially pure aluminum because they are 99% comprised of aluminum. These alloys are weldable and have excellent corrosion resistance and thermal and electrical conductivity.

They are most commonly used for power grids, transmissions, chemical tanks, piping, and bus bar applications. This series is also often welded with other materials or other aluminum grades that are dependent on performance and application requirements.

Seldom are they used for general structural applications because they have poor mechanical properties.

Aluminum Grade Series 2xxx

Contrary to the 1xxx series, aluminum alloys that belong in the 2xxx series are high strength and high performance materials that are used for aircraft and aerospace applications. These alloys have excellent strength that is displayed over a wide range of temperatures.

The downside, however, is that they have limited weldability and much less corrosion resistance as compared to other aluminum alloys.

Aluminum Grade Series 3xxx

Aluminum alloys in the 3xxx series are a good balance between the 1xxx and 2xxx series. They have moderate strength, good formability or weldability, are suitable for elevated temperatures, and also have good corrosion resistance.

This perfect balance makes them ideal materials for kitchen utensils such as pots and pans, which is one of their first uses. Today, they are also used for heat exchangers in power plants and heaters.

Aluminum Grade Series 4xxx

These are aluminum/silicon alloys which means they contain both non-heat and heat treatable alloys – a property that is unique to this series. They have a lower melting point but better fluidity when molten, which are important and desirable characteristics for filler materials that are used for brazing and fusion welding.

That said, unlike other alloys that have specific and ideal uses, the 4xxx series is predominantly used as a filler material. Although, sometimes, they are also in demand for architectural applications.

Aluminum Grade Series 5xxx

Among the non-heat treatable alloys, which are the 3xxx, 4xxx, and 5xx series, this one has the highest strength and is also readily weldable. For these reasons, they can be used for a wide variety of applications like construction, pressure vessels, storage tanks, and marine applications.

However, they are not recommended for use in elevated temperatures because they are susceptible to stress corrosion cracking and have the potential for sensitization.

Aluminum Grade Series 6xxx

When you combine silicon, magnesium, and aluminum in the right proportion, you end up with a 6xxx series aluminum alloy that has good formability, weldability, machinability, corrosion resistance and medium strength. This material is ideal for architectural and structural applications and often used in truck and marine frames.

Aluminum Grade Series 7xxx

These aluminum alloys have the tensile strength of 32 to 88 ksi which makes them some of the highest strength alloys of all. They are often used for high performance applications in the likes of aerospace, aircrafts, and competitive sporting equipment. Another possible application for the 7xxx series is in mobile equipment and other highly stressed parts.

Key Takeaway

When you’re in the market for aluminum, don’t just look at its color, finish, cost, and other basic criteria. It is crucial that you look at the entirety of the material, especially in the Philippines where aluminum profile varies from every manufacturer.

The one thing you always have to consider is the aluminum’s grade. Each series offers different benefits that may or may not be beneficial to you. If you aren’t informed, you might purchase the wrong type and end up wasting your money.

In order to prevent that from happening, simply refer to the guide we have left above regarding the many different aluminum grades and their specific uses!

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