Aluminum Alloy Types

With the growth of aluminum within the metal fabrication industry, and its acceptance as an excellent alternative to steel for many applications, there are demanding requirements for those involved with developing aluminum to meet specifications. To begin to understand it’s good to look a some of the many aluminum alloys available and their characteristics.

WROUGHT ALUMINUM ALLOY DESIGNATION SYSTEM

Alloy SeriesPrincipal Alloying Element
1xxx99.000% Minimum Aluminum
2xxxCopper
3xxxManganese
4xxxSilicon
5xxxMagnesium
6xxxMagnesium and Silicon
7xxxZinc
8xxxOther Elements

The second and third digits (xXX.x) are arbitrary numbers given to identify a specific alloy in the series. The number following the decimal point indicates whether the alloy is a casting (.0) or an ingot (.1 or .2). A capital letter prefix indicates a modification to a specific alloy.

Understanding tempering is also important. Here is a table to help:

THE BASIC TEMPER DESIGNATIONS

LetterMeaning
FAs fabricated – Applies to products of a forming process in which no special control over thermal or strain hardening conditions is employed
OAnnealed – Applies to product which has been heated to produce the lowest strength condition to improve ductility and dimensional stability
HStrain Hardened – Applies to products that are strengthened through cold-working. The strain hardening may be followed by supplementary thermal treatment, which produces some reduction in strength. The “H” is always followed by two or more digits (see subdivisions of H temper below)
WSolution Heat-Treated – An unstable temper applicable only to alloys which age spontaneously at room temperature after solution heat-treatment
TThermally Treated – To produce stable tempers other than F, O, or H.  Applies to product that has been heat-treated, sometimes with supplementary strain-hardening, to produce a stable temper. The “T” is always followed by one or more digits (see subdivisions of T temper below)

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