Aluminium sheet metal is found in a wide and varied range of applications. Aluminium products range from cookware to aircraft parts and truck bodies. Strength, thickness and workability determine the grading for aluminium sheet metals. Among the many grades of aluminium, the most common are 1100-H14, 3003-H14, 5052-H32, and 6061-T6.
Grade 1100 hardens slower, is softer, more compliant and easier to weld than other aluminium grades. These features make this grade of aluminium sheet metal easier to use for intricate shapes and forms. Chemical and food processing companies use grade 1100 because of its resistance to corrosion. Other uses include decorative finishes, jewellery and giftware.
Grade 2024 offers strength and fatigue resistance making it useful in applications requiring good strength-to-weight ratio. Easily formed and capable of a high finish, the uses of grade 2024 include aircraft structural components, aircraft fittings, hardware and truck wheels. Because of its low corrosion resistance, 2024 requires an anodised finish.
The addition of manganese to grade 3003 makes it 20 per cent stronger than grade 1100 while enabling it to retain 1100's desirable features. Grade 3003 is commercially pure and the most widely used aluminium alloy. Its uses include cooking utensils, cabinets, mailboxes, fan blades, decorative trim, awnings and chemical equipment.
Grade 5005 wears better than 3003 and is less likely to streak or discolour. Applications for this grade of aluminium sheet metal include the same as 3003, cooking utensils, decorative trim, siding, storage tanks and chemical equipment.
Grade 5052 provides better resistance to salt water along with higher fatigue strength than other aluminium alloys. Its greater strength and workability make grade 5052 more resistant to tearing than 1100 and 3003. This feature permits forming or drawing 5052 into more detailed shapes. Common uses for this grade of aluminium sheet metal include aircraft components, home appliances, transportation industry parts and heavy-duty cooking utensils.
Grade 6061 costs less than other aluminium alloys and provides versatility, good mechanical properties, workability, corrosion resistance, the ability to be furnace brazed and welded by all methods. These features make it useful in applications that require these properties, such as truck bodies and frames. Other uses include screw machine parts and structural components.
One of the highest strength aluminium alloys, grade 7075's strength-to-weight ratio makes it useful for parts incurring high amounts of stress.
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