The use of metals and metal alloys at an industrial level for the manufacture of resistant and durable structures marked a before and after in the history of humanity. In the past, metalworking was limited to the traditional forging and casting of parts that were subject to the mechanical deficiencies that the default raw material brought. This changed radically when alloys became known and the task of mixing materials to improve their individual properties. This opened the doors to the generation of products with a longer useful life, versatile and usable in a variety of environments and projects of all kinds.
Within the existing aluminum alloys, which we are talking about in this post, there are alloys that are used to manufacture architectural products and alloys that are used for that and much more. For heavier structural applications, industrial aluminum alloys are the most suitable. These maintain the main characteristics of any alloy and at the same time have greater strength and general durability.
In this post, we are going to teach you about industrial aluminum and especially about the 6061-T6 aluminum alloy. Definition, main characteristics and much more. Let’s start by defining industrial aluminum:
Industrial aluminum, or better said, industrial aluminum alloys, are a set of materials that, due to their mechanical properties and physical and chemical characteristics, serve as raw material for the manufacture of elements, parts and products that require a level of resistance and a high useful life. In general, it is made up of pure aluminum mixed with alloying elements such as magnesium and silicon in greater proportion. It has percentages of other elements such as manganese but to a lesser extent.
At a general level, industrial aluminum retains the resistance to corrosion, characteristic of aluminum alloys, and at the same time has high toughness and resistance to structural loads. In addition to this, it admits complete heat treatments such as quenching and at a superficial level it has a neat natural finish that can be modified depending on the application of the profiles or manufactured products.
One of the most widely used aluminum alloys in industrial applications is 6061-T6 aluminum alloy. Let’s break this material down a bit more:
The 6061-T6 aluminum alloy is a material belonging to the 6xxx aluminum family, specifically the 6061 variant. It is a hardened alloy that has high strength and hardness. It has an amount of pure aluminum that goes from 95% to 98% of the total and the rest of the mixture is mainly composed of silicon and magnesium. It is an alloy that was originally known as the 61S alloy and is famous as it is the material from which the plate installed on the Pioneer 10 space probe is made.
The T6 present in the name of the alloy refers to the quenching heat treatment to which it is subjected. This makes it the strongest tempered variant, compared to 0-anneal and T4-temper heat-treated alloys. Among the main characteristics of this material we have:
– It is a thermally treated aluminum alloy that is used for the generation of profiles by extrusion. Extrusion is a process by which material is pushed against a die with a specific shape of defined thickness and through this push the material is molded, which comes out of the end of said die.
– It has a maximum tensile strength of around 290 MPa, which can reach a maximum limit of 310 MPa. This value refers to the resistance of this alloy to deform irreparably in its cross section.
– It is a corrosion resistant material and has a good standard surface finish. To this is added the tenacity and hardness that it has and that makes it a material resistant to impacts, surface efforts, forces and more. In general, in the finishes section, this material comes with the Mill or mill finish.
This type of surface finish, known as Mill Finish, is a finish that occurs when a metal or alloy leaves the extrusion process. Physically it is a rough texture compared to gloss or satin finishes and depending on the extrusion process it can be rough. It can be concluded from this finish that it is the “natural” finish of aluminum, since it does not require a special process to be present on the surface of the material.
This finish does not represent a deficiency in extruded profiles, since being an industrial aluminium, in the aesthetic section it does not require a bright or showy finish. If another finish or color is required, lacquered or anodized are options to consider as long as the increase in resistance to corrosion that aluminum already has by default is required.
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