6061 Aluminum Properties & Uses
The properties of pure aluminum and other pure metals are fixed, meaning that their strength, durability, malleability, melting points and other characteristics are permanent. Alloys, such as 6061 aluminum, however, mix the pure metal with two or more other metallic elements to create a hybrid substance. The new alloy blends the properties of each of the elements to result in a stronger, more durable and more flexible metal, suitable for a specific purpose. The new alloy is distinct and its elements cannot be separated by physical means. In the case of aluminum, alloying it with different metals makes it nearly as strong as steel.
Aluminum and its alloys are divided into two general classes – casting alloys and wrought alloys. Casting alloys are those that can be cast in sand, or poured into molds to give them a shape. The wrought alloys, which include the 6061 aluminum alloy, are cast and then hand-worked by extruding, rolling or forging them into the desired shapes. Some of these alloys can be heat-treated by different methods to increase their strength and hardness.
6061 Aluminum Properties
6061 aluminum, originally known as “Alloy 61s”, was one of the first to be developed (in 1935), and is one of the most commonly available heat-treatable aluminum alloys for commercial use. The 6061 alloy is primarily composed of aluminum, magnesium and silicon. Its other metallic elements include iron, copper, chromium, zinc, manganese and titanium, in descending order of quantity. Alloy 6061 set the standard for a medium-to-high strength, lightweight, economical material. Earlier alloys had been susceptible to stress-corrosion cracking, but the addition of a small amount of Chromium made this alloy highly resistant to corrosion.
6061 aluminum properties include its structural strength and toughness, its good surface finish, its good corrosion resistance to atmosphere and sea water, its machinability, and its ability to be easily welded and joined. Most other aluminum alloys are difficult to weld due to their chemical composition and lack of conductivity. While welded 6061 aluminum alloy materials may lose some strength, they can be re-heat-treated and artificially aged again to restore strength, making this one of the superior alloys.
6061 Aluminum Uses
6061 aluminum is used extensively as a construction material, most commonly in the manufacture of automotive components. The 6061 alloy is well-suited to the construction of yachts, motorcycles, bicycle frames, scuba tanks, camera lenses, fishing reels, electrical fittings, couplings and valves. It’s used in the construction of aluminum cans, and the inside foil wrapper on food containers is often made with 6061 aluminum alloy. Aluminum-magnesium-silicon alloys are also used in wide-span roof structures for bridge decks and arenas.
Hydro Extrusion produces 6061 aluminum for use in standard and custom solid and hollow shapes, rod and bar products and seamless and structural pipe and tube, offering a wide selection of tempers to meet an extensive variety of applications. Producing both standard and customized chemistries, our facilities have unmatched capabilities to create uniform grain and microstructure with our advanced processing and heat-treating equipment. Our 6061 formulation is available in our ECON-O-ROD®, ECON-O-HEX®, ACC-U-ROD®, ECON-O-PLATE®, ACC-U-BAR™ and ACC-U-PLATE® products.