The OnlineMetals Guide to Aluminum

Next to steel, Aluminum is the most commonly used and commercially available metal. Its light weight and high strength-to-weight ratio make it a good choice for everything from aircraft to flashlights to jigs to just about anything else you can make out of metal.

Pure aluminum, primarily seen in the 1xxx series of wrought aluminum alloys, has little strength, but possesses high electrical conductivity, reflectivity, and corrosion resistance. For this reason, a wide variety of aluminum alloys have been developed.

OnlineMetals.com currently stocks eight alloys of aluminum in various shapes and sizes:
2011 Aluminum (available in Hex, Round)
2024 Aluminum (available in Hex, Plate, Rectangle, Round, Sheet, Square, Tube)
5052 Aluminum (available in Sheet)
6061 Aluminum (available in Angle, Channel, Hex, I-Beam, Pipe, Plate, Rectangle, Rectangle Tube, Round, Sheet, Square, Square Tube, Tube)
6063 Aluminum (available in Angle, Channel, Pipe, Rectangle, Rectangle Tube, Round, Square Tube, Tube)
6101 Aluminum (available in Pipe, Rectangle)
6262 Aluminum (available in Hex, Round)
7075 Aluminum (available in Hex, Plate, Rectangle, Round, Sheet, Square)

2011 Aluminum
2011 is the most machinable of the commonly available aluminum alloys. Machining this alloy can produce excellent surface finishes on your product, and small, broken chips.

Weldability, strength, and anodizing response are all rated as average at best, and this alloy does not have a high degree of corrosion resistance.

If the ability to make your part quickly is important to you, and strength is not the primary desire, 2011 represents a good choice if you're using aluminum.

2011-T3 Aluminum
Minimum Properties Ultimate Tensile Strength, psi 55,000
Yield Strength, psi 43,000
Brinell Hardness 95
Rockwell Hardness B60
Chemistry Aluminum (Al) 91.2 - 94.6%
Bismuth (Bi) 0.2 - 0.6%
Copper (Cu) 5.0 - 6.0%
Iron (Fe) 0.7% max
Magnesium (Mg) 2.1 - 2.9%
Lead (Pb) 0.2 - 0.6%
Silicon (Si) 0.4% max

2024 Aluminum
Copper is the main alloying ingredient in 2024. It is very strong compared to most aluminum alloys, and has average machinability, but the copper component of this alloy makes it susceptible to corrosion (many items in this alloy are produced with a clad surface to protect the underlying material.) In addition, 2024 is not considered to be weldable.

Finally, the fatigue resistance of 2024 make it a primary choice when the application is expected to be under stress or strain for prolonged periods. It is commonly used in aerospace applications.

2024-T3 Aluminum
Minimum Properties Ultimate Tensile Strength, psi 70,000
Yield Strength, psi 50,000
Brinell Hardness 120
Rockwell Hardness B75
Chemistry Aluminum (Al) 90.7 - 94.7%
Chromium (Cr) 0.1% max
Copper (Cu) 3.8 - 4.9%
Iron (Fe) 0.5% max
Magnesium (Mg) 1.2 - 1.8%
Manganese (Mn) 0.3 - 0.9%
Silicon (Si) 0.5% max

5052 Aluminum
5052 is the alloy most suited to forming operations, with good workability and higher strength than that of the 1100 or 3003 alloys that are commercially available.

5052 is not heat-treatable, but is stronger than most of the 5xxx series of alloys. It has very good corrosion resistance, and can be easily welded. 5052 is not a good choice for extensive machining operations, as it has only a fair machinability rating.

5052-H32 Aluminum
Minimum Properties Ultimate Tensile Strength, psi 33,000
Yield Strength, psi 28,000
Brinell Hardness 60
Chemistry Aluminum (Al) 95.7 - 97.7%
Chromium (Cr) 0.15 - 0.35%
Copper (Cu) 0.1% max
Iron (Fe) 0.4% max
Magnesium (Mg) 2.2 - 2.8%
Manganese (Mn) 0.1% max
Silicon (Si) 0.25% max

6061 Aluminum
6061 Aluminum is, by most any measure, the most commonly used aluminum alloy. It is specified in most any application due to its strength, heat treatability, comparatively easy machining, and weldability. If that were not enough, it is also capable of being anodized, adding a layer of protection for finished parts.

The main alloy ingredients of 6061 aluminum are magnesium and silicon.

6061-T6 Aluminum
Physical and Mechanical Properties Ultimate Tensile Strength, psi 45,000
Yield Strength, psi 40,000
Brinell Hardness 95
Rockwell Hardness B60
Chemistry Aluminum (Al) 95.8 - 98.6%
Chromium (Cr) 0.04 - 0.35%
Copper (Cu) 0.15 - 0.40%
Iron (Fe) 0.70%
Magnesium (Mg) 0.8 - 1.2%
Manganese (Mn) 0.15% max
Silicon (Si) 0.4 - 0.8%
Zinc (Zn) 0.25%

6063 Aluminum
6063 is often called architectural aluminum for two reasons - first, it has a surface finish that is far smoother than the other commercially available alloys, and second, its strength is significantly less (roughly half the strength of 6061), making it suited for applications where strength is not the foremost consideration.

6063 is rated as "Good" for forming and cold working operations, "Excellent" for anodizing, and "Fair" for machining.

6063-T52 Aluminum
Minimum Properties Ultimate Tensile Strength, psi 27,000
Yield Strength, psi 21,000
Brinell Hardness 60
Chemistry Aluminum (Al) 97.5% max
Chromium (Cr) 0.1% max
Copper (Cu) 0.1% max
Iron (Fe) 0.35% max
Magnesium (Mg) 0.45 - 0.90%
Manganese (Mn) 0.1% max
Silicon (Si) 0.2 - 0.6%

6101 Aluminum
6101 is best suited for applications involving moderate strength and maximum electrical conductivity. It is similar to alloy 6063, but with minor chemistry changes which enhance electrical conductivity. Although slightly lower in conductivity than alloy 1350, it offers greater strength. Its most typical application is bus bar.

6101-T6 Aluminum
Physical and Mechanical Properties Ultimate Tensile Strength, psi 32,000
Yield Strength, psi 28,000
Brinell Hardness 71
Electrical Conductivity 57% IACS
Chemistry Aluminum (Al) 97.6%
Chromium (Cr) 0.03%
Copper (Cu) 0.10%
Iron (Fe) 0.50%
Magnesium (Mg) 0.35 - 0.80%
Manganese (Mn) 0.03% max
Silicon (Si) 0.3 - 0.7%
Boron (Si) 0.06%

6262 Aluminum
6262 was designed as an aluminum alloy for operations where significant machining is required. It contains lead and bismuth to help with chip creation and breakage, as well as to partially lubricate the cutting tool. It is generally regarded as having good strength and corrosion resistance. Finished parts can be produced with a high level of polishing.

6262-T6511 Aluminum
Minimum Properties Ultimate Tensile Strength, psi 31,900
Yield Strength, psi 27,600
Brinell Hardness 71
Chemistry Aluminum (Al) 94.6 - 97.8%
Chromium (Cr) 0.04 - 0.14%
Copper (Cu) 0.15 - 0.40%
Iron (Fe) 0.7% max
Magnesium (Mg) 0.8 - 1.2%
Manganese (Mn) 0.15% Max
Bismuth (Bi) 0.4 - 0.7%
Silicon (Si) 0.4 - 0.8%
Lead (Pb) 0.4 - 0.7%

7075 Aluminum

7075 is the other "aircraft grade" aluminum that is carried by OnlineMetals. Its principal alloying ingredients are zinc and copper, which make it one of the highest-strength aluminum alloys that are available. In fact, its typical strength in the T6 temper is higher than most mild steels.

7075 also has average-to-good ratings for machinability, corrosion resistance, and anodizing response. Like 2024, however, it is not considered to be weldable.
7075-T6 Aluminum
Physical and Mechanical Properties Ultimate Tensile Strength, psi 83,000
Yield Strength, psi 73,000
Brinell Hardness 150
Rockwell Hardness B87
Chemistry Aluminum (Al) 87.1 - 91.4%
Zinc (Zn) 5.1 - 6.1% max
Copper (Cu) 1.2 - 2.0%
Chromium (Cr) 0.18 - 0.28%
Iron (Fe) 0.5 max
Magnesium (Mg) 2.1 - 2.9%
Manganese (Mn) 0.3% max

At OnlineMetals, we all failed shop class. Multiple times. As a matter of fact, our employment applications specifically ask to see people's grades for their high school shop classes. If they're too high, they go into the rejected pile. We're also not engineers, and cannot make any specific recommendations about the suitability of a given alloy, temper, or shape for your project or application.

All technical data is for comparison purposes only and is NOT FOR DESIGN. It has been compiled from sources we believe to be accurate but cannot guarantee. This ends the part of the website that our pointy-headed lawyers made us put in.


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