Properties & Applications for Common Aluminum Alloys
Aluminum heat treating is a method used to optimize aluminum alloys for its final application. It increases alloy strength and hardness, making it more durable for use in industrial and medical applications.
Two aluminum metal alloys that are commonly used—6061 aluminum and 7075 aluminum—bear their own distinct properties and advantages. Here we highlight the different properties of each of these metals, their applications and how they are heat treated.
Which One Should You Choose?
6061 aluminum is known for its ductility and versatility. This alloy primarily consists of aluminum, magnesium and silicon, and it can be heated and liquid quenched to render it stronger and more durable. Heat treating 6061 aluminum makes the part physically stronger and helps keep its shape after forming. This alloy can also withstand environmental conditions, including sea water. Together, these properties make this alloy a great option for pipes, machine parts and as a construction material in everything from roofs to bridges to aircraft structures.
On the other hand, Aluminum 7075 is known for its strength and ability to withstand stress. This alloy’s principal components are aluminum and zinc. A key advantage of this alloy is that this strength doesn’t come with heavy weight—as other metals do—and it can perform at low temperatures, making this a critical material for parts that undergo substantial physical stress. Heat treating 7075 aluminum imparts additional, lasting strength. Structural applications, including aircraft structural components—where strength and stress resistance without added weight is vital—are the primary uses for this aluminum alloy.
What Happens During Aluminum Heat Treating?
The part is taken in its pliable form (e.g. 6061 aluminum in O condition) and placed in a furnace at 985ºF for one hour. Then, it’s dropped into a quench tank to rapidly cool, with this step taking no more than six seconds. At this point, the part is rated at W condition. From there, it’s formed or straightened and then allowed to set for a designated amount of time. Now at T4 condition, the aluminum part can undergo an aging heat treatment, where it is placed in 350ºF to 500ºF for 12-24 hours. After this point, it’s in T6 condition—and ready for heavy-duty applications.
What Can Jones Metal Do For You?
Jones Metal specializes in heat treating, with aluminum heat treating as one of our core competencies. With high-heat furnaces and the ability to accommodate large, heavy parts, we complete all production, processing, and quality testing required for a project in house. Project management is simplified through centralized communication, reducing the risk of errors and minimizing turnaround time.
Aluminum heat treating involves more than just the quenching and heating described above. We can age, harden, hot or cold quench, partially or fully anneal, and even relieve stress from the metals with which we work.
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