Aluminum and its alloys regularly find application in manufacturing projects across a wide range of industries. The materials exhibit many beneficial characteristics—e.g., hardness, ductility, and conductivity— that make them an ideal choice for a variety of manufactured parts and products.
Properties of Aluminum Metal
Aluminum has numerous properties that make it a perfect material for metal fabrication projects, such as:
- Ductility. Aluminum is the sixth most ductile metal, which means it can be easily reduced into very thin sheets or drawn into very thin wires.
- Formability/malleability. Aluminum is the second most malleable metal, meaning it can be shaped into various forms without risk of breaking.
- Conductivity. Aluminum is a good conductor of electricity and heat, which makes it an excellent material for certain electrical and thermal applications.
- Non-toxic. Aluminum is non-toxic, making it safe for use with consumable goods (e.g., food and medicine).
- Corrosion resistance. Aluminum naturally forms an oxide coating that protects the underlying surface from corrosion, so the material is well-suited for use in environments where exposure to moisture and other corrosive compounds is likely.
What Is Aluminum Metal Used For?
Many industries use aluminum to create stamped metal components and assemblies, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Automotive & Aerospace. In the transportation industries, the popularity of aluminum as a construction material for aircraft, automobiles, and other modes of transportation has risen significantly over the years. The material’s high strength and light weight allow for the production of strong but lightweight parts and products, enabling industry professionals to achieve better fuel efficiency.
- MEP/Construction. From bridges and skylights to ladders and rails, aluminum is utilized for a wide range of construction equipment and structures. The material is easy to work and maintain, which makes it perfect for various construction projects.
- Electronics & Technology. Numerous electronic devices and systems incorporate aluminum components, including laptops, smartphones, and televisions. Since the material is lighter than steel and tougher than plastic, it is ideal for making strong and lightweight products. Additionally, since it conducts heat, it is used to make heat sinks, which keep the devices and systems from overheating.
What Type of Aluminum Should I Use for My Project?
The metal stamping experts at ESI offer a variety of aluminum materials to suit different customer needs. Three of the most commonly used are:
- 1100. Aluminum 1100 is one of the softest aluminum alloys, which makes it unsuitable for high-pressure or high-strength applications. It is frequently cold-worked but can be hot-worked as well. Generally, it is shaped by processes that do not require the use of high heat, such as spinning, stamping, and drawing. Recommended finishes for this alloy include anodize, alodyne, and phosphate.
- 2024. Aluminum 2024 is a heat-treatable aluminum alloy with copper as the primary alloying element. It is commonly used in aerospace applications, such as aircraft structures, for its high strength and fatigue resistance. Recommended finishes for this alloy include anodize, alodyne, and phosphate.
- 3003. Aluminum 3003 has good corrosion resistance and moderate strength, both of which can be increased by cold working. Recommended finishes for this alloy include anodize, alodyne, and phosphate.
- 5052. Aluminum 5052 brings excellent weldability and corrosion resistance. It bends and forms easily without cracking, and while it is not heat-treatable it has a smooth finish.
Find the Right Aluminum Alloy for Your Project With ESI
At ESI, we provide an online Material Selector tool to help simplify the material selection process for our customers. It allows for quick identification of the best material for a given application based on a number of factors. Our Material Selection guides offer additional insight into the types of materials available and their recommended applications. Check out either or both for assistance choosing the right aluminum alloy for your project.