Aluminum alloys are divided into casting alloys and wrought alloys, and are best suited for different applications. Wrought aluminum alloys, such as the 6061 alloy, are worked by extruding, rolling or forging them into specified shapes.
Some alloys can be heat-treated or cold-worked by different methods to increase their strength and hardness, corrosion resistance, ease of fabrication and other advantages.
Wrought and cast alloys are first graded by a 4-digit number which identifies their major alloying element. For example, 2XXX includes copper, 4XXX includes silicon, and 6XXX includes magnesium and silicon.
The alpha-numeric suffixes attached to alloys, such as 6061-T6, represent the temper, or degree of hardness. They also represent the method by which the hardness was obtained. In the case of 6061-T6 aluminum alloy, the “T6” indicates that it was solution heat-treated and artificially aged. The suffixes may include additional numbers. For instance, -T6511 would indicate that the alloy was solution heat-treated, stress-relieved by stretching, and artificially aged to reduce the possibility of distortion in machined parts.
The common grades of commercial 6061 aluminum are 6061-0, 6061-T4, and 6061-T6; however, tempers up to -T9 are produced. At Hydro Extrusion, we produce 6061 aluminum in a wide selection of tempers for use in standard and custom solid and hollow shapes, rod and bar products and seamless and structural pipe and tube, for use in an extensive variety of applications.
6061-T6 aluminum properties include its structural strength and toughness. It is also offers good finishing characteristics and responds well to anodizing, including clear, clear and color dye, and hardcoat. 6061 aluminum alloy is also easily welded and joined. However, in its –T6 condition the welds may lose some strength, which can be restored by re-heat-treating and artificially aging.
Aluminum in its purest form is too soft and reactive to be of structural use. However, its alloys, such as 6061-T6 alloy, make it structurally stronger and more useful in the manufacturing of durable products.
6061-T6 aluminum properties make it a material of choice for builders of boats and watercraft because it’s strong and lightweight. It is ideal for sailboat masts and for hulls of larger yachts that cannot be made from fiberglass. Small, flat-bottom canoes are almost entirely fabricated from 6061-T6, although the bare aluminum is often coated with protective epoxy to improve its resistance to corrosion.
Other common applications of 6061-T6 aluminum include bicycle frames, applications where heat transfer is required, such as heat exchangers, air coolers and heat-sinks, and applications where 6061-T6’s non-corrosive characteristics are important, such as water, air and hydraulic piping and tubing.
Aluminum 6061-T6 alloy conducts and dissipates heat well. Since it can be extruded, it can be formed into almost any imaginable shape. With our advanced processing and heat-treating equipment, Hydro has developed an improved machinability 6061 formulation used in the ECON-O-ROD®, ECON-O-HEX®, ACC-U-ROD®, ECON-O-PLATE®, ACC-U-BAR™ and ACC-U-PLATE® products, which conforms to industry specifications.