Aluminum 6061 Alloy – Composition and Properties

6061 material properties

 

If you’re ever in need of a sturdy and reliable metal alloy for your next manufacturing project, look no further than aluminum 6061. This versatile material has been used in various industries worldwide since the industrial revolution and is well known for its incredible strength-to-weight ratio as well as its moderate cost. Although it was originally developed over a century ago, this incredibly useful alloy continues to be an essential component of countless cutting-edge applications today — from outdoor furniture to aerospace designs. In this blog post we’ll explore the composition and properties of aluminum 6061 so that you can have greater appreciation of all benefits that this amazing alloy has to offer!

What is Aluminum 6061 Alloy?

Aluminum 6061 is one of the most highly sought-after alloys for high-strength, low-weight applications, particularly in North America. It also has excellent corrosion resistance, as well as high machinability and weldability, making it suitable for a wide range of applications.

However, there are some application constraints. For example, unlike 5052 alloys, 6061 is not ideal for applications requiring a larger bending radius. Similarly, if high yield strength is required, aluminum 7075 is a better choice than aluminum 6061.

Thus, it’s important to understand the most essential aluminum 6061 material properties before using it for your application.

Aluminum 6061 Material Properties

Below, we discuss some of the most important material properties of aluminum 6061 that may influence whether or not it is suitable for your fabrication or machining needs.

Aluminum 6061 Composition

Below, we discuss some of the most important material properties of aluminum 6061 that may influence whether or not it is suitable for your fabrication or machining needs.

Aluminum 6061 Composition

Aluminum 6061 alloying elements include magnesium, silicon, manganese, iron, titanium, copper, and chromium. The precise nominal structure is as follows:

  • Aluminum 97.9%
  • Silicon 0.6%
  • Magnesium 1.0%
  • Chromium0.2%
  • Copper 0.28%

While copper improves the mechanical properties and response of aluminum 6061 to artificial aging, chromium offsets any negative effect of copper on aluminum 6061’s ability to resist corrosion. 6061’s high alloy content increases its quench sensitivity.

Aluminum 6061 Tensile Strength

The tensile strength of 6061 is the metal’s ability to withstand a pulling force, which is measured in force per cross-sectional area. The tensile strength of 6061 varies depending on the heat treatment. Tensile strengths differ between 6061 tempers (for example, 45 KSI for 6061-T6). Despite having half the tensile strength of 7075, 6061 is still strong enough for many construction applications.

Aluminum 6061 Compressive Strength

Aluminum 6061’s ultimate compressive strength varies depending on the composite material. For example, increasing the weight percentage of composites such as graphite and fly ash particles increases the alloy’s compressive strength. An increase in reinforcement particle size, on the other hand, results in a decrease in percent improvement.

Aluminum 6061 Hardness

The aluminum 6061 T6 temper has the highest precipitation hardening of any temper and thus a maximum yield strength of 240 MPa. However, the value may vary depending on the type of composition. While increasing the content of albite particles improves the hardness of aluminum 6061, graphite-reinforced composites exhibit the opposite effect.

Aluminum 6061 Ductility

Aluminum 6061 has far greater fatigue ductility than any other alloy. It has also been discovered that the 6082-T6 alloy is less ductile than the 6061-T651 alloy due to slightly higher silicon and magnesium content. Furthermore, as the weight fraction of hard particles such as fly ash increases, the ductility of the composite decreases.

Aluminum 6061 Corrosion resistance

Corrosion resistance is one of the most valuable properties of aluminum 6061 material. Aluminum 6061 forms a protective oxide layer against atmospheric corrosion when exposed to air or water. However, because of the presence of copper, the degree of resistance is less than that of aluminum 5052. The alloy 6061 is ideal for applications that require resistance to nitric acid, ammonia, and ammonium hydroxide. While alkali soil can cause pitting, an additional protective layer coating can help.

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Properties of the Material 6061 During Heat Treatment and Temperature Change

Aluminum 6061 alloys are heat treated and available in a variety of tempers to further improve their desirable machining characteristics:

6061-F: As Fabricated

These are semi-furnished alloys with no special thermal treatment control. The semi-furnished alloy is then shaped, finished, or heated to achieve other finished forms or tempers.

6061-O: Annealed

The alloy is annealed at some point during the process to improve workability and maximize ductility and toughness. It is best suited for forming and welding operations, but it is difficult to machine.

6061-W: Heat-treated solution

These alloys, like 6061-F, have no published standard property limits because they age naturally and spontaneously after solution heat treatment. The yield strength gradually increases until it is further treated to stabilize its properties.

6061-Tx: Thermally Treated

Post-solution heat treatment of the alloy includes quenching and either natural or artificial ageing. As a result, it achieves commercially useful toughness and strength. Any special treatments received are indicated by an additional digit added to the temper indication.

Aluminum 6061 Uses

Aluminum 6061 plates are used as heat radiators in engines to provide maximum cooling efficiency due to their good thermal and electrical conductivity. Furthermore, the lightweight nature of aluminum 6061 makes it ideal for a variety of aerospace and general transportation applications. To support most processing techniques, the 6061-T6 alloy is used as the tread plate in many shops.

6061 plates are useful for common applications such as truck beds, stairs, support structures, ramps, and catwalks due to their exceptional corrosion resistance, weldability, and strength.

Aluminum 6061 bar stock is used in a variety of heavy-duty structural applications such as truck frames, rivets, motorboats, and rail coaches. Because of the presence of magnesium and silicon, the structures are resistant to stress, cracking, and corrosion

Conclusion:

After assessing the composition and properties of aluminum 6061 alloy, it is no surprise why this alloy has so many unique and useful applications. From automotive and bicycle frame components to aerospace parts, this material is lightweight, inexpensive, formable and weldable, making it incredibly adaptable for the needs of a variety of industries. With its relatively high strength-to-weight ratio, low corrosion rates in harsh environments, easy machinability, increased conductivity, and numerous other beneficial features, aluminum 6061 is still one of the most popular materials used around the world today. Despite its commonality though, it remains one of the most important alloys in industrial fabrication as well as a favorite among hobbyists.

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