General Characteristics Of Popular Aluminum Alloys

This table provides brief general descriptions of the alloys most frequently used and lists some of their applications.

Click on any alloy number for a list of products made from that alloy.

The most workable commercial alloy, although it is not heat treatable, 1100 has low strength but excellent corrosion resistance.  It provides satisfactory anodizing and conversion coating characteristics.  It lends itself readily to welding, brazing and soldering.  It tends toward gumminess when machined.  Typical end uses are spun hollowware, fin stock, chemical storage and processing equipment, kitchen utensils and general sheet metal work.
A free machining, heat treatable alloy, 2011 compares favorably with free cutting brass.  It is the most suitable aluminum alloy for machining on automatics, milling machines, lathes, planers, shapers and other machine tools.  It is the most widely used alloy for all types of screw machine parts.  The alloy can be machined at high speeds and comparatively heavy feeds.  Its mechanical surfaces are bright and smooth.  Items with mechanical finishes readily yield joined parts that match.  Its mechanical properties and hardness are excellent.  It has fair corrosion resistance.  This alloy provides fair weldability using the resistance method and other welding techniques are not recommended.
Heat treatable 2024 is the alloy most favored by aircraft manufacturers because of its high strength and good machinability.  However, it has only fair corrosion resistance.  The only heat joining process considered suitable for 2024 is resistance welding.  This alloy is not recommended for brazing or soldering.  In an annealed state, it has good workability but it is fair to poor in tempers.  The alloy is commonly used for aircraft structural parts and for skins and cowling on aircraft.
This non heat treatable alloy is about 20 percent stronger than type 1100 but has equally good workability characteristics.  It may show slight discoloration when anodized, but it reacts well to mechanical and organic finishing.  It is easy to weld and braze, but when soldered only the torch method is recommended.  Like 1100, 3003 tends to be gummy when machined, but in higher tempers it can be machined under conditions that restrict setups and speeds.  Typical applications of this alloy include food and chemical handling equipment, appliance components, truck and trailer roofing, heat exchangers, pipe jacketing and lawn furniture components.
This alloy is about as strong as 3003 and as easy to form, but offers superior finishing characteristics.  We recommend 5005 for applications similar to those of 3003, but which require anodizing.  It offers excellent corrosion resistance and weldability, but it is not as good as 1100 or 3003 when brazing or soldering is required, nor is it an alloy we recommend for machining.  Common applications for 5005 include decorative trim, utensils, mobile home siding and reflectors.
One of the strongest non heat treatable alloys — 5086 has somewhat higher strength — type 5052 aluminum offers excellent corrosion resistance, making it a favorite for marine applications.  It is easily welded, but we do not recommend brazing or soldering.  It adapts to most mechanical processes.  It offers fair finishing; heavy anodic films may have a yellow cast.  The alloy offers fair machining with proper setup.  Type 5052 products are used in fuel and storage tanks, truck and trailer side panels, small boat hulls and truck cabs.
This is a very strong non treatable alloy with excellent corrosion resistance and good weldability.  It can be anodized for additional resistance to corrosion, but the quality of the resultant finish makes it unsuitable for decorative applications.  It is not aimed at applications that require machining, but with proper setup and care, it can in fact be machined.  This alloy offers only fair workability due to its high magnesium content.  Popular uses for type 5086 are large marine craft, containers, structural members, railroad cars and elevator cabs.
This heat treatable alloy provides very good corrosion resistance.  It takes finishing very well.  Easily welded, 6061 is about as strong as mild steel, making it a widely used general purpose alloy.  It is easy to machine and, when annealed, it is very workable, retaining its qualities if it is heat treated without aging.  End uses of this alloy include aircraft landing mats, marine vessels, structural and architectural components, storage tanks, highway signs and many components in transportation equipment.
This heat treatable was developed for the extrusion industry.  It is the most important alloy in the magnesium silicide group.  Its finish, when extruded, is very good, making the alloy attractive for uses where the lack of a requirement for finishing provides an advantage.  It is favored by architects because it can be extruded into shapes that are very intricate.  It is also used in furniture and the manufacture of ladders.
A heat treatable alloy, 7050 provides high strength and superior stress corrosion resistance.  It can be welded, but only by the resistance method.  It provides fair machinability and has poor workability.  It is most often used in aircraft structures, and in applications that involve forging.
This heat treatable alloy is the strongest and hardest aluminum alloy.  However, it may not be suitable for fracture toughness applications.  It is often used to upgrade parts that might otherwise be made of type 2024 aluminum.  It has good machining but only fair forging characteristics.  It is not very workable.  It may be welded using resistance methods.  It is used in aircraft skins and structure, ordnance, demanding architectural applications, keys, and to make small gears.

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