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Guide to 6061 Aluminum

One of the most important considerations when designing an industrial project is the materials involved. With metal alloys, it can be challenging to select the best option because there are so many.

Aluminum is a popular material for a wide range of industrial projects, with an equally vast range of alloys. Aluminum 6061 is one of the most versatile and durable alloys in use today. This guide will discuss the properties, benefits, applications, and types of aluminum 6061 that make it such a highly preferred material.

What Is Aluminum 6061?

Aluminum 6061, or 6061 aluminum, is the world’s most commonly used aluminum alloy. Its primary alloying elements are magnesium and silicon. Aluminum 6061’s heat treatability, easy machining, weldability, corrosion resistance, and strength are desirable properties for many applications. This alloy is also excellent for situations that require anodization, which adds a coating of anodic oxide to protect the metal.

Aluminum 6061 is commonly found in consumer products—bicycle frames, cameras, pins—as well as industrial products like marine hardware, decorative hardware, aircraft parts, couplings, electrical components, valves, and brake and hydraulic pistons.

Aluminum 6061 Benefits and Applications

Aluminum 6061 is also called structural aluminum for its strength in structural applications. Because it is a wrought alloy instead of a cast alloy, it possesses good mechanical properties that allow it to be rolled or forged into various standard and custom shapes. Anodization can add aesthetics, durability, and corrosion resistance to the metal surface.

The adaptability of 6061 aluminum has made it a standard material in these industries:

  • Construction
  • Sports and recreation
  • Medical
  • Electronics
  • Telecommunications
  • Aerospace
  • Military

General Properties of 6061 and Common Types of 6061

Pure metals have fixed, limited properties, but aluminum 6061—an alloy of aluminum, magnesium, and silicon—combines the best properties of each element to produce a better metal. Magnesium increases strength, and silicon lowers the metal’s melting point. The hybrid material is stronger and more flexible, and it can be further adjusted to specific needs. The distinct elements of aluminum 6061 cannot be separated, giving it a strength that rivals steel.

There are two main tempers of 6061 aluminum: 6061-T4 and 6061-T6. Aluminum 6061-T4 is aged naturally, whereas aluminum 6061-T6 is aged artificially to enhance its strength.

All 6061 aluminum products have good corrosion resistance, machinability, weldability, and general workability. It is a medium to high strength metal alloy.

Working With Industry Leader Richardson Metals, Inc.

With over 50 years of experience, Richardson Metals has a reputation for providing stellar customer service in custom aluminum extrusions. Because we specialize in low to medium production runs of aluminum 6061 and aluminum 6063, we can deliver premium quality and highly specialized expertise to our customers.

Richardson Metals provides a one-stop shop for designing, engineering, producing, and inspecting services. We maintain stringent quality controls at every stage of the manufacturing process. Learn more about our services, or contact us to see how we can help with your next project.

Guide to Aluminum 6063

When deciding on the right aluminum alloy for your extrusion project, you may have questions about how to choose from so many options. However, 6063 aluminum is an easy choice, since it offers good strength, machinability, corrosion resistance, and other desirable properties.

This guide will outline 6063 aluminum’s features, applications, benefits, and types to help you determine if this metal is the best material for your application.

What Is Aluminum 6063?

Aluminum 6063, or 6063 aluminum, is a heat-treatable 6000 series alloy comprised of aluminum, magnesium, and silicon. Often called architectural aluminum, 6063 aluminum is often soft anodized to create colored, visually appealing architectural structures.

Aluminum 6063 Benefits and Applications

6063 aluminum is known for its excellent corrosion resistance against both chemicals and stress cracking. The alloy is easily welded and machined. Specifically, aluminum 6063 is a preferred material for long structural pieces with a constant cross-section, such as pipes, tubes, angles, and “U” or “L” shaped channels.

6063 aluminum is ideal for architectural applications. Some of the most common applications include:

  • Sign frames
  • Door frames
  • Window frames
  • Truck frames and trailers
  • Railings
  • Balustrading
  • Irrigation tubing
  • Roofing
  • Shop fittings
  • Extrusions

General Properties of 6063 and Common Types of 6063

Aluminum 6063 is a preferred material for extrusion because it can be easily pushed through dies to fit various cross-sectional shapes. As an alloy of aluminum, magnesium, and silicon—with trace amounts of iron, copper, manganese, and other elements—6063 aluminum is tough, flexible, workable, and corrosion-resistant. In fact, aluminum 6063 outperforms aluminum 6061 in corrosion resistance.

6063 aluminum comes in two variations: 6063-T4 and 6063-T6. They have similar physical compositions, but their mechanical properties differ due to contrasting tempering methods. Aluminum 6063-T4 is aged naturally, while 6063-T6 is aged artificially to boost strength.

Working With Industry Leader Richardson Metals, Inc.

With over 50 years in the industry, Richardson Metals is a leader in custom aluminum extrusions. Our vast capabilities include a 550-ton RAM press and a circular press that can accommodate parts up to 4 inches in diameter with a weight lower than 2.5 pounds per foot. We can produce tight tolerances as low as ± 0.005 inch and thicknesses as low as 0.02 inch. We specialize in extruding aluminum 6061 and aluminum 6063.

Richardson Metals is your one-stop aluminum extrusion service provider. Our experienced engineers, advanced production capabilities, and inspection equipment will save you time and money. Our manufacturing processes undergo stringent quality controls to ensure finished products meet your specifications.

To learn more about our services, vist our custom aluminum extrusions page. If you’re ready to get started on your custom solution, contact us today.

 

Outlining the Aluminum Extrusion Process

At Richardson Metals, Inc., we’ve provided aluminum extrusions to customers in a wide range of industries for over 40 years. This extensive experience allows us to create extrusions from a variety of grades in different shapes, sizes, and volumes. If you’re wondering how we bring your ideas to reality, read on. Below, we outline the aluminum extrusion process to illustrate how we turn raw aluminum material into finished parts and products.

What Is Aluminum Extrusion?

Aluminum extrusion is a manufacturing process that creates aluminum components with fixed cross-sections. The aluminum billet is first softened and then pushed through a steel die with the desired cross-sectional profile. After the material exits the die, it is cut and cooled into individual long lengths, each of which has the same shape and size depending on the component design.

The next section outlines the full list of process steps in further detail.

Aluminum Extrusion Process Steps

The aluminum extrusion process consists of numerous steps:

  1. Die design. Before an aluminum extrusion operation can begin, the part or product designer must create the design for the desired component. This design determines the design of the die and if it can be extruded.
  2. Die creation. Once the component design and die design are approved, the die can be manufactured and
  3. Die preheating. Once the order is ready to run and the die is ready, it is preheated to support the flow of the metal through the die and placed in the extrusion press.
  4. Aluminum cutting. Once the die is prepared and positioned properly, solid and cylindrical pieces (i.e., billets) are cut from a larger piece of raw material.
  5. Billet preheating. The billets are preheated to approximately 900 degrees to improve their malleability.
  6. Billet loading. The preheated billets are transferred and loaded to the extrusion press.
  7. The extrusion ram applies pressure to the billet, forcing it into the container of the extrusion press and through the extrusion die. The amount of pressure applied depends on the extrusion design.
  8. Gas introduction. Aluminum extrusions are susceptible to oxidation. Introducing nitrogen into the die during operations creates an inert environment that reduces the risk of oxide formation. In its liquid form, nitrogen also helps cool the die, extending its service life.
  9. Emerging onto the run-out table. As the extrusion emerges from the die opening, it is guided onto the run-out table.
  10. Initial cooling. As the extrusion moves across the run-out table, a water bath or overhead fans help cool it.
  11. Initial extrusion cutting. After the extrusion partially cools and reaches the full table length, a hot saw separates it from the rest of the material.
  12. Final cooling. The individual extrusion is moved from the run-out table to a cooling table where it can cool to room temperature.
  13. Stretching. Throughout the process, the extrusion naturally experiences some twisting. This issue can be corrected by stretching it until it is fully straight and up to spec.
  14. Final extrusion cutting. Once the extrusion meets the shape specifications, the material can ship in long lengths or can be transferred to a precision saw to cut shorter mult lengths or finished part length.
  15. Aging. If needed, the individual extruded pieces then move to an aging oven where they are aged to the proper temper.
  16. Additional improvements. If needed, the extrusions can be subjected to further fabrication, machining, finishing, and treatment operations to improve or enhance their properties and/or achieve the desired dimensions.

Contact the Aluminum Extrusion Experts at Richardson Metals Today

The aluminum extrusion process is used to create various parts and products with fixed cross-sections for a wide range of industries. However, the company performing it must have the process knowledge and skills to execute it correctly to successfully produce the desired extruded components.

At Richardson Metals, our experts have what it takes to deliver high-quality aluminum extrusions for a diverse set of customer applications, from aerospace to telecommunication. For more information about our aluminum extrusion capabilities, contact us today. To discuss your project needs with one of our representatives, request a quote.

 

6061 vs. 6063 Aluminum

Richardson Metals, Inc. has been a nationwide supplier of aluminum, aluminum extrusions, and a myriad of other material components since 1980. With a team focused on product quality and customer satisfaction, Richardson Metals offers custom aluminum extrusions, extruded metal shapes, aluminum machining, and related value-added services like finishing, prototyping, and specialty production. Two of the primary grades of aluminum we use are alloys 6061 and 6063.

6061 Aluminum

Developed in 1935, “Alloy 61,” now recognized as 6061 aluminum, is a common precipitation-hardened structural alloy composed of 97.9% aluminum, 0.6% silicon, 1.0% magnesium, 0.2% chromium, and 0.28% copper. The highly versatile alloy is used for various applications, from aircraft and truck frames to chemical equipment and electronic parts, owing to the key characteristics below.

  • Strength: The tempering and aging of 6061 aluminum create a stronger alloy, with average ultimate tensile strength ranging from approximately 241 MPa to 310 MPa, and yield strength from 145 MPa to greater than 276 MPa.
  • Corrosion resistance: Exposure to air triggers 6061 aluminum to form a layer of oxide that protects lower layers of metal and minimizes its reaction to corrosive elements.
  • Weldability and brazeability: 6061 aluminum is weldable by all methods with the use of appropriate complementary filler alloys to prevent cracking, and is also furnace brazeable.
  • Workability: Classified as a wrought alloy containing <4% of alloying elements, annealed 6061 aluminum offers good workability.
  • Machinability: 6061 is the most commonly machined aluminum alloy due to its litany of desirable mechanical properties for the process; it carries a machinability rating of 90% when compared to 2011 aluminum, an alloy known for excellent machinability.

6063 Aluminum

6063 aluminum is composed of approximately 98.9% aluminum, 0.4% silicon, and .70% magnesium, and is a popular option for extrusion. This architectural alloy is used for a range of applications like window, door, sign, and vehicle frames, tubing and piping, electrical and marine components, and more. Its diverse uses are made possible by the key characteristics of the alloy, including:

  • Thermal conductivity: The alloy has a coefficient of thermal expansion from 21.8 μm/m-° C and displays thermal conductivity from 200 W/m-K to 209 W/m-K.
  • Strength: Like other 6XXX series alloys, 6063 aluminum undergoes tempering and aging to improve strength, offering average ultimate tensile strength ranging from approximately 186 MPa to 290 MPa, yield strength from 145 MPa to 269 MPa.
  • Corrosion resistance: The lack of copper in the chemical composition of 6063 aluminum improves corrosion resistance over other 6XXX series alloys.
  • Weldability and brazeability: Used alongside the correct filler alloys, 6063 aluminum can be welded and brazed using all conventional methods.
  • Workability: Aluminum 6063 offers greater workability than other 6XXX alloys and is easier to form into complex shapes with high-quality surface finishes.
  • Machinability: The 6063 aluminum alloy has a machinability rating of 80% compared to 2011 aluminum, an alloy offering excellent machinability.

6061 vs. 6063 Aluminum

Though the chemical composition and material properties of 6061 and 6063 aluminum are similar and both offer good formability, workability, and are receptive to heat treatments, each alloy provides advantages over its counterpart in specific areas.

For example, the 6061 aluminum alloy offers greater strength and durability and is more machinable than 6063. However, 6063 offers greater corrosion resistance and workability and can be used to produce higher-quality finishes.

When selecting the appropriate alloy for production, the primary factors for consideration will depend on the final product’s integrity and longevity requirements.

Aluminum Guidance From Richardson Metals

Aluminum grades 6061 and 6063 come with a variety of advantages over other aluminum alloys. While similar, the materials have some distinct differences that make them more suitable for specific applications—like structural work for 6061 and architectural finishes for 6063.

For more information on the aluminum services at Richardson Metals or for guidance in selecting the correct aluminum grade for your next project, request a quote or contact us today.