Aluminum is known for corrosion-resistance combined with an outstanding strength-to-weight ratio. It’s lighter than steel, nonmagnetic, strong under certain conditions, and resists rust better than almost all other metals.
Choosing aluminum tube is an easy choice for many projects. But there are numerous types of aluminum, including 6061, 5052, and 2024, three of the most popular and common aluminum options.
Each type has its own unique characteristics. Understanding these characteristics is critical to selecting the right one for your specific application.
Understanding the Different Types of Aluminum Tubing
This is probably the most versatile of all aluminum types. It’s easily fabricated and has excellent corrosion resistance, even when compared to other aluminums. It’s a prime choice for welding applications, and can be formed with relative ease. For these reasons, 6016 is an ideal choice for round tubing, which often requires more welding.
Common Uses for 6061 Aluminum
There are many uses for 6061 aluminum, including small and large components. This metal is used for machine parts, frames, truck racks, furniture assemblies, and electronic parts. Because of its light weight and corrosion resistance, it’s also popular for marine fittings and a variety of marine components.
This is the strongest of all the non-heat-treatable grades, which makes it important for numerous applications and industries. The fatigue strength is also higher than most aluminum types, and, while not the most weld-friendly, it’s certainly a workable material. It also has excellent resistance to corrosion caused by saltwater, largely because the metal holds no copper.
Common Uses for 5052 Aluminum
This is one of the most important metals for marine applications and shipbuilding, but it’s also used for aircraft and transportation. The anti-corrosion aspect of this metal also makes it useful for bridges and buildings, and it has found popular use for heavy cooking utensils. The electronics industry also relies on 5052; this metal is often used to build enclosures and chassis for the electronics sector.
This is an aluminum alloy that uses a larger portion of copper, which gives it a high strength and resistance to fatigue. When strength-to-weight ratio is the most important factor, this is generally the top choice. However, it’s more prone to corrosion than most aluminum. To address this issue, components made with 2024 are often galvanized with alloys that resist rust. With good machinability and superb strength, this is a good option for parts that won’t be subject to water, salt, or other rust-creating elements.
Common Uses for 2024
Under the right conditions, this metal can be used for aircraft and aerospace applications. It’s also used to create structural components for the transportation industry, as long as those components are not exposed to rugged environments or the metal is galvanized.
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