What is the Difference Between Aluminum and Aluminum Alloy?

by | Nov 14, 2019 | Aluminum

There is a series of aluminum which possesses 99% or higher purity – referred to as virtually pure – in the 1xxx aluminum alloy serious. This form of aluminum alloy has outstanding corrosion resistance and workability characteristics. It is also highly thermally and electrically conductive. Because of these characteristics, the 1xxx series is often utilized for power grid transmission applications. This involves the national power grid across the United States and the electrical lines that link that grid together.

Some of the key properties of aluminum are electrical conductivity, density, workability, strength, and corrosion resistance. These characteristics can be enhanced and strengthened through the addition of particular elements. This takes us to the top aluminum alloys.

2xxx-7xxx Aluminum Alloy Series
Aluminum itself in combination with other elements form to produce an aluminum alloy. If aluminum is mixed with other elements in a molten condition, the entire mixture cools and transitions into a solid homogeneous solution. The additional elements added to aluminum may consists of 15 percent of the alloy by mass in some cases. The various elements that may be combined with aluminum to form aluminum alloy include: zinc, copper, magnesium, silicon, and iron. Every alloy has a four digit number with the first digit indicated the general class or series of the alloy. This digit indicates the major alloying element in the metal.

Aluminum alloys can be strengthened through the process of heat treatment or cold working. The attributes of an aluminum alloy are often influenced by the added elements to the basic aluminum in addition to any other treatment used to modify the alloy.

As an example, the strength, workability, and corrosion resistance of aluminum can be increased with the addition of manganese.

Classifying Aluminum Alloys
Wrought alloy and casting alloy are the two main aluminum alloy categories. Each of these groups of alloys fall into one of two other sub-categories – heat and non-heat treatable. Cast alloys possess a low melting point and are thus on the less expensive side. Cast aluminum alloys tend to possess lower tensile strength than wrought aluminum alloys. Wrought aluminum products such as extrusions and rolled plate comprise about 85% of the use of aluminum.

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