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Common Aluminum Alloys for Machining

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Henry

15 years of experience in prototyping and manufacturing.

Aluminum alloys are widely used metal in various industries. There are many different types of aluminum alloys with different names in the market. how do you know which one is suitable for your project? where are difference between each type? how they are named? in this blog, we will give you answers to these questions.

What Is Aluminum Alloy?

Aluminum alloys is mainly composed of pure aluminum, combines with other elements such as copper, silicon, magnesium and zinc to improve its properties. aluminum alloys are lightweight and have excellent corrosion resistance, good electrical and thermal conductivity.

How Aluminum Alloy is Named

When we see the name of aluminum alloys. You may wonder what is number and letter means, such as 6061, 6061-T6, 7075-T651. As below, we take an example of 6061-T6 to explain to you.

The first number “6″ represents the aluminum alloy group, its detail meaning as blow:

Group NumberMeaningCharacteristic
1Industrial pure aluminumEasy to form and highly machinable
2Aluminum-copper series alloyexcellent machinability, less corrosion resistance
3Aluminum-manganese series alloymoderate strength and excellent workability
4Aluminum-silicon series alloysuitable for casting applications
5Aluminum-magnesium series alloy good strength and corrosion resistance
6Aluminum-magnesium-silicon series alloymoderate strength and excellent workability
7Aluminum-zinc-magnesium-copper series alloyhigh strength, but low machinability
8Other alloys
9Reserved or for future use

the second number “0” Indicates the control of alloying elements or impurities’ maximum content as below:

Second DigitMeaning
0Original alloy, no special control over impurity max content
1-9Modified alloy, special control over one or more individual impurities or alloying element max content

the number “61″ represents a kind of alloys within the same group.

The rest letter’s meaning as blow:

Temper DesignationMeaning
FAs-fabricated condition, suitable for products not requiring special hardening or heat treatment during forming process
OAnnealed condition, results in a material that is easier to machine, tougher, and more ductile; can be followed by a single-digit numeral except 0
HStrain-hardened condition, for non-heat-treatable alloys where strength is increased by strain hardening
WSolution heat-treated condition, unstable and only applicable to alloys naturally aged at room temperature after solution heat treatment
THeat-treated condition to a stable state, for heat-treatable alloys where the product reaches a stable state after heat treatment

For example, “6061-T6” indicates an alloy from the aluminum-magnesium-silicon series that has undergone solution heat treatment and artificial aging to achieve a stable temper.

Types Of Aluminum alloy

Wrought Aluminum Alloy 

Wrought aluminum alloys has a big portion of all kinds of aluminum alloys. they are divided into heat treatable and non-heat treatable alloys. they contain Copper, magnesium and zinc which provide their initial strength. Corresponding to series 2xxx, 6xxx, and 7xxx, Heat-treatable wrought aluminum alloys can be strengthened further through heat treatment. Non-Heat Treatable Aluminum Alloy is Corresponded to the 1xx, 3xx, and 5xx series of wrought alloys, it can be strengthened further through strain hardening or cold working.

Cast Aluminum Alloys

Aluminum alloys for die casting have several types like aluminum-silicon, aluminum-copper, aluminum-magnesium, aluminum-zinc and more. The common grades for die-casting aluminum alloys are defined by the standards of Japan’s JIS and ANSI. The table below shows common die-casting grade series under various standards.

Casting aluminum alloy type ANSI SAE J452JISDIN GB
AI-Si-Mg360309n/an/aYL104
A360309ADC3AlSi10Mg (Fe) YL101
AI-Si-CuA380306ADC10AlSi8Cu3FeYL112
A383383ADC12AlSi12(Cu)YL113
A384303ADC14AlSi12YL116
AI-SiA413305ADC6AlSi10MgYL102
C443304ADC7n/an/a
AI-Mg518n/aADC5AIMg9YL302

Advantages of Aluminum Alloys

Easy to machine

Aluminum alloys are relatively soft compare with other metal such as Steel. this characteristic make it easy to be cut by the CNC bits and molded, and then result in aluminum parts with high precision and consistency.

Lightweight 

Aluminum alloy’s density is 2.7 g/cm³ which is one-third the density of steel. This make Aluminum alloy lightweight and widely used a lot in those application needs lower weight such as Automotive industry.

Corrosion Resistance

Aluminum can form a thin protective oxide layer on its surface naturally, This protective aluminium oxide layer helps protect the surface of the aluminum part from corrosion.

Electrical and Thermal Conductivity

Aluminum alloy is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. its conductivity is much better than steels and other metals but not copper which make it widely used in lots of Electrical components. And It is also used as heatsinks in a variety of applications to conduct heat.

Strength-To-Weight Ratio

Even aluminum alloy is lightweight, but aluminum alloys still can provide excellent strength and structural integrity. this make them widely used in various applications where strength and weight need to be balanced.

Recyclability

aluminium is a 100% recyclable and it can retain all of its original properties after recycling, this make aluminum a much more cost-effective source material for productions.

Common Aluminum Alloys for Machining

Aluminum alloys can be used for different machining processes such as CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, extrusion, die casting. base on the Characteristic of each machining process, different types of aluminum alloys are used. Here we list the common aluminum alloys for different machining process.

For CNC machining

  • 2024-T4: primarily use is in the aerospace industry
  • 5052: often used in the marine industry
  • 6061-T6: most widely used in various industries.
  • 6063: moderate strength and high ductility
  • 6082: used in construction industry
  • 7075-T6:  it is used in aerospace and military industry
CNC machined part

For Aluminum Extrusion

  • 6005: contains silicon content which enhances extrudability.
  • 6063: widely used in custom structural pipes, tubing and heat sinks.
  • 6463: used for various custom profiles.

For Aluminum die Casting

  • A360:  Its applications include the manufacture of automobile oil pans, automobile controller shells, motor shells, 5G communication boxes, LED lamp housings and more.
  • A380: It is used for products like electrical equipment chassis, engine mounts, gearboxes, furniture, generators and hand tools.
  • A383: the most common die casting aluminum alloy used in the market. it is equivalent to ADC12 according to JIS standard. 

For Sheet metal fabrication

  • 6061: most widely used in various industries.
  • 5052: often used in the marine industry

Physical Properties of Common Aluminum Alloys

Here we summarize a table as below to show all the physical properties of aluminum alloys, then you can understand the perfomance of each aluminum alloy.

AlloyYield Strength (MPa)Elongation at Break (%)Hardness (Brinell)Density (g/cm³)Maximum Temp (°C)
Aluminum 111025-3035-40232.71250
Aluminum 201129010952.82120
Aluminum 2024325-47010-25120-1302.78150
Aluminum 3003110-13020-25402.73260
Aluminum 5052170-21512-20602.68200
Aluminum 6061240-31012-25952.70250-300
Aluminum 6063110-18012-20602.69200
Aluminum 7050460-51010-141502.81150
Aluminum MIC-611015702.70200
A360.01863.5802.63300
A380.01523.5802.71300
A383.0 (ADC12)1753.5802.74300
A413.01245702.66300

How to Choose an Aluminum Grade?

Before you chose the aluminum, you will need to consider your machined parts requirement and the machining process you will use. some of general consideration as below:

Strength Requirements
from the above introduction of each aluminum alloy, you will find their strength properties. Aluminum 7075 has the best strength among those.

Corrosion Resistance
Consider the environment in which your aluminum components will be exposed. Some aluminum alloys offer exceptional corrosion resistance like 5052 or 6061, known for their corrosion resistance.

Weldability
If your project requires welding, ensure that the chosen aluminum grade is weldable. aluminum 6061 is more weldable than 7075.

Machinability
If you will use aluminum alloy for CNC machining, it is better to choose the one easy to be machined. Aluminum 6061 has a good Machinability for machining.

Here is comparison table as below to compare each alloy’s properties in terms of welding, machining, Corrosion Resistance and strength to help have a general view of each aluminum alloy.

Alloy TypeWeldabilityMachinabilityCorrosion ResistanceStrength
Alloy 1100Easily GoodHighly Low 
Alloy 2024Challenging FairLimited High 
Alloy 3003Easily Good Good Medium 
Alloy 5052Easily Fair Excellent Medium 
Alloy 6061Excellent  Good Excellent Medium 
Alloy 6063Easily Fair Good Medium 
Alloy 7075Challenging Fair FairHigh 

What is the best aluminum alloy for CNC machining?

General speaking, According to the market data, 6061-T6 is the most popular aluminum alloys for CNC machining. It’s versatile and easy to machine, 6061-T6 is an general-purpose material applicable for many applications.

However, Using a proper Aluminum alloy for your products is the key for quality. you may need to choose a professional supplier who are capable of managing different types of aluminum alloys. KUSLA have rich experiences of aluminum machining services can help you for your projects. contact us today to get an instant quotation.

You may also want to know about the Methods for creating metal prototypes, please click the link to view our blog.

FAQ

What is the most common aluminum alloy sheet?

Generally, 3003 aluminum is the well known and most widely used of the common alloys in the market.

Which aluminum alloy has better machinability between 6061 and 7075?

Generally Speaking, in most of applications, 6061 aluminum alloy is better than 7075 aluminum when considering their fabrication process. This is because 6061 has lower hardness and tensile strength, more easier to machine than 7075.

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Request A Quote

Get in touch with our professional team today, and we will respond to you within 24 hours.

Employees of Kusla.

Gang Liu

Marketing Director

Employees of Kusla.

Hua Liu

Project Manager

Employees of Kusla.

Yiyang Zhao

Project Manager

Employees of Kusla.

Lu Wang

Technical Sales

Employees of Kusla.

Anming Li

Technical Sales

Employees of Kusla.

Xiaoli Wu

Technical Sales

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