The aluminum profiles that exist today are used in endless structural and architectural applications. Depending on the type of profile and the chemical composition of the aluminum used, the uses of these profiles can range from the aesthetic to the industrial. Now, it is important to emphasize that although it is customary to call these profiles “aluminum profiles”, the reality is that they are made of alloyed aluminium. This marks enormous differences at the level of properties in the material and therefore in the manufactured profiles.
Aluminum is an abundant metallic element, which in its natural state has mechanical properties inferior to those of other metals. Although it is a malleable material, from a structural point of view it needs to be combined with other elements. This with the main objective of enhancing its deficient properties. This resulting mixture is obtained by combining the initial metal with other types of materials in different proportions, which make it possible to generate a stable material that takes advantage of the best of all the elements involved.
The result of these mixtures are known as alloys. In this post, we are going to teach you about aluminum alloys and specifically, we will focus on the 6063-T5 aluminum alloy. This light alloy of magnesium and silicon is used in particular in the manufacture of the profiles used in our louvers, aluminum doors and windows, polycarbonate roofs and practically in all the products that use light profiles and that we have available. We will break down the main properties and characteristics of 6063-T5 aluminum alloy, main uses, advantages and much more. To begin, let’s first define the concept of aluminum alloy:
To understand what an aluminum alloy is, it is important to understand the concept of an alloy itself. An alloy, from a general point of view, is a homogeneous mixture that occurs at least between two elements. This mixture is usually done to obtain hybrid materials that obtain the most relevant physical and mechanical properties that each element had separately. This allows the generation of new “raw material” more resistant than the one found by default in nature. An important point to keep in mind is that for a mixture to be considered an alloy, at least one of its elements must be a metal. Having understood the concept of alloy, now let’s talk about aluminum alloy.
An aluminum alloy, also known as a light alloy, is a type of low-density material made by mixing aluminum with other elements. The most common elements present in these alloys are copper, silver, zinc, manganese, magnesium, silicon, chromium, nickel, titanium, tin, iron, and lead. Aluminum alloys improve the initial properties of natural aluminum and are an important material at the structural level.
Aluminum alloys are diverse. Depending on the alloy materials used in the mix, the characteristics and properties of the mix will change. But, they all have certain general characteristics in common and this is due to the base material in question. Here are these general features:
– The first characteristic of any aluminum alloy is its tensile strength and high hardness. Aluminum in its pure state has deficiencies in the section of mechanical characteristics. On the other hand, when joining with other elements, it raises them in a remarkable way.
– They are light and at the same time resistant. This makes them an ideal option for projects that require parts or profiles with these characteristics. Of course, in terms of resistance, a stainless steel will always be superior, but in terms of weight and density, the alloys offer a midpoint between a base aluminum and a steel.
– They are diverse. Currently there is no single aluminum alloy, but we have a range of alloys that respond to different uses and have specific properties. These properties will depend on the elements present in the alloy, the heat treatments applied and the configuration of the profiles or manufactured parts, among other factors.
To delve deeper into the characteristics of the alloys, at this point, it is necessary to know the main types of aluminum alloys that exist. This is because depending on the type of alloy, the strength properties of aluminum will change and in some cases will be higher or lower. Let’s see then the classification of the most used aluminum alloys today:
Aluminum alloys are generally classified depending on whether they have a heat treatment applied or not. The materials present in the mixture play a key factor in the improved properties of the alloy, but internationally it is not so common to classify them by the element or elements present in the alloy. However it is possible to do it.
Depending on the element used in the alloy, certain properties are improved, resulting in a final material with unique characteristics for certain applications. In this post we will show you the classification based on the heat treatment. Within this general classification, aluminum alloys are subdivided into the following series:
This group of aluminum alloys are alloys with 99.9% purity. It is an alloy that does not have heat treatment and has iron, silicon and copper as alloying elements. These are found in low amounts, but still influence the base properties of aluminum. They are regularly used for cold rolling jobs.
Group of alloys with quench heat treatment. Specifically the T6 quenching treatment. They are alloys that have high fracture toughness and strength. The main alloying elements are copper and magnesium, present in a low proportion but enough not to be considered a group of semi-pure alloys. It is regularly used in the manufacture of structures that require great strength.
Second group of alloys without applied heat treatment. It is a set of aluminum alloys reinforced with manganese that allows to increase the general resistance of the base aluminum. They are used in various applications thanks to their good machinability. Understanding machinability as the ease of a material to be worked or machined, usually with special tools.
The 4xxx series (or better known as the 4000 series) aluminum alloys are characterized by having a single alloying element. The element used in the mixture is silicon and it is found in considerable proportions in the alloy. It is a material that does not admit strong thermal treatments and that is used as a support element in welding, in the manufacture of mechanical parts and similar elements.
Third and last group of alloys without heat treatment applied. In this case, the element used for the alloy is magnesium. The result of the mixture is an alloy that has greater reinforcement in its general resistance and is a material used in several standard applications.
The 6xxx series alloys are probably one of the most important in the manufacture of aluminum profiles used in architectural products (of this family, we will talk more about the 6063-T5 aluminum alloy later in this post). They are alloys that use magnesium and silicon as alloying elements. They are usually reinforced with T6 heat treatments in most cases.
The last group of heat-treated alloys uses copper, zinc and magnesium as mixing elements. This group of alloys is widely used due to its high strength. Generally used in aircraft parts, bicycle parts, structures and all kinds of products that require strong and durable elements.
Within the group of 6xxx series alloys that we have just mentioned, there is a special type of alloy that is known as the architectural aluminum alloy. We are talking about 6063-T5 aluminum alloy.
Aluminum alloy 6063-T5 is a type of alloy that receives a quenching heat treatment and is widely used in the manufacture of structures, profiles and architectural elements used today.
One of the most interesting aspects of this alloy is its resistance to corrosion, along with its high mechanical strength and low density. The default surface finish is neat and it also admits treatments such as anodizing or lacquering. In addition to this, it is easy to machine and does not require much care or maintenance.
At a general level, this material shares the general characteristics of all aluminum alloys, but with some marked differences in terms of strength and durability. Among the main characteristics of this alloy we have:
– The light alloy of aluminium, silicon and magnesium has a low density, practically that of aluminum in its pure state. This allows the creation of lightweight elements.
– It has good machinability, considering the quenching heat treatment to which it is subjected.
– It is a material suitable for welding processes. It has a melting point of around 600 °C and at room temperature it has no surface problems of any kind.
– It is not a toxic material. This characteristic is important and is one of the reasons why it is used in a variety of products installed in residential, commercial and industrial areas.
The aluminum profiles used in the installation of aluminum louvers, doors and windows are manufactured with this alloy. Thanks to the aforementioned properties, profiles are obtained in various finishes, light and resistant. Additionally, on an aesthetic level, it allows the generation of profiles with a variety of finishes and colors, which at the same time serve as protection elements against contaminants or corrosive environments.
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