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Pure aluminum is soft and ductile and most commercial uses require greater strength than pure aluminum affords. So, strength is achieved by the addition of other elements to produce alloys. Further strengthening is possible by means which classify the alloys into roughly two categories, non-heat-treatable (alloyed with manganese, silicon, iron, and magnesium) and heat-treatable (alloyed with copper, magnesium, zinc, and silicon).
Aluminum is available in a wide variety of alloys to meet specific applications. This article focuses on the alloys commonly used by LMC FAB.
Alloy Characteristics
1100-H14 (QQ-A-250/1d)  Commercially pure aluminum, highly resistant to chemical attack and weathering. Excellent for chemical processing equipment and other uses where product purity is important. Easily worked and welded, ductile enough for deep draws, but the lowest strength aluminum alloy.  Uses include light reflectors, decorative and jewelry parts, name plates. Seldom used in precision sheet metal-- see 5052-H32.
3003-H14 (QQ-A-250/2c) General purpose manganese alloy. Stronger than 1100 with same good formability and low cost. Fine corrosion resistance and weldability.  Used in stampings, spun and drawn parts, mail boxes, cabinets, tanks, fan blades. For higher strength, consider 5052-H32.
5052-H32 (QQ-A-250/8d) Main alloy is magnesium. Far stronger than any of the alloys described above, yet forms well with reasonable inside bend radii. Corrosion resistance and weldability is very good.  Better at salt water corrosion resistance than 1100. Used for electronic chassis, tanks, pressure vessels and any number of parts requiring considerable strength and formability at reasonable cost. Anodizing may be slightly yellowish.
6061-T6 (QQ-A-250/11d) Alloyed with magnesium & silicon.  Heat treatable to improve strength. A widely used structural alloy for light medium strength applications. Requires much larger inside bend radii than 5052-H32, but can be formed. Combines good weldability, corrosion resistance, and strength after heat treatment. Since it looses appreciable strength when welded, the 5000 series alloys replace it in dump body and some marine applications.

Aluminum Temper Designation

Aluminum is specified with a 4 digit alloy followed by a temper designation. For example, 5052-H32 indicates an aluminum/magnesium alloy that has been strain hardened and stabilized by low temperature heating and is 1/4 hard.
  • H Strain hardened (cold worked) with or without thermal treatment.
  • H1 Strain hardened without thermal treatment.
  • H2 Strain hardened and partially annealed.
  • H3 Strain hardened and stabilized by low temperature heating.
  • 2nd Digit A second digit denotes the degree of hardness.
  • Hx2 = 1/4 hard.
  • Hx4 = 1/2 hard.
  • Hx6 = 3/4 hard.
  • Hx8 = full hard.
  • 0 Full Soft (annealed).
  • T Heat treated to produce stable tempers.
  • T1 Partially solution heat treated and naturally aged.
  • T3 Solution heat treated and cold worked.
  • T4 Solution heat treated and naturally aged.
  • T5 Partially solution heat treated and artificially aged.
  • T51 Stress relieved by stretching.
  • T510 No further straightening after stretching.
  • T511 Minor straightening after stretching.
  • T52 Stress relieved by thermal treatment.
  • T6 Solution heat treated and artificially aged.
  • T7 Solution heat treated and stabilized.
  • T8 Solution heat treated, cold worked, and artificially aged.
  • T9 Solution heat treated, artificially aged, and cold worked.


Effects of Alloy Elements

Series Main Alloy Effect of Alloying Element
  • 1000 none (99% alu) Unalloyed aluminum is highly corrosion resistant, low strength, workable, conductive. Non-heat-treatable.
  • 2000 Copper Gives strength, hardness, machinability. Heat-treatable.
  • 3000 Manganese Adds moderate strength, good workability. Non-heat-treatable.
  • 5000 Magnesium Moderate to high strength. Corrosion resistant. Non-heat-treatable.
  • 6000 Magnesium & Silicon Increases strength, formability, corrosion resistance. Heat-treatable.
  • 7000 Zinc For greatest strength. Heat treatable.