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Aluminium Alloy

Aluminium alloys are alloys in which aluminium (Al) is the predominant metal. The typical alloying elements are copper, magnesium, manganese, silicon and zinc. There are two principal classifications, namely casting alloys and wrought alloys, both of which are further subdivided into the categories heat-treatable and non-heat-treatable. About 85% of aluminium is used for wrought products, for example rolled plate, foils and extrusions. Cast aluminium alloys yield cost effective products due to the low melting point, although they generally have lower tensile strengths than wrought alloys. The most important cast aluminium alloy system is Al-Si, where the high levels of silicon (4.0% to 13%) contribute to give good casting characteristics.


Aluminium alloys are widely used in engineering structures and components where light weight or corrosion resistance is required.


Alloys composed mostly of the two lightweight metals aluminium and magnesium have been very important in aerospace manufacturing since somewhat before 1940. Aluminium-magnesium alloys are both lighter than other aluminium alloys and much less flammable than alloys that contain a very high percentage of magnesium.


Aluminium alloy surfaces will keep their apparent shine in a dry environment due to the formation of a clear, protective layer of aluminium oxide. In a wet environment, galvanic corrosion can occur when an aluminium alloy is placed in electrical contact with other metals with more negative corrosion potentials than aluminium.


Aluminium alloy compositions are registered with The Aluminum Association. Many organizations publish more specific standards for the manufacture of aluminium alloy, including the Society of Automotive Engineers standards organization, specifically its aerospace standards subgroups and ASTM International.

Wrought Alloys

The International Alloy Designation System is the most widely accepted naming scheme for wrought alloys. Each alloy is given a four-digit number, where the first digit indicates the major alloying elements.


  • 1000 series are essentially pure aluminium with a minimum 99% aluminium content by weight and can be work hardened.
  • 2000 series are alloyed with copper, can be precipitation hardened to strengths comparable to steel. Formerly referred to as duralumin, they were once the most common aerospace alloys, but were susceptible to stress corrosion cracking and are increasingly replaced by 7000 series in new designs.
  • 3000 series are alloyed with manganese, and can be work hardened.
  • 4000 series are alloyed with silicon. They are also known as silumin.
  • 5000 series are alloyed with magnesium.
  • 6000 series are alloyed with magnesium and silicon, are easy to machine, and can be precipitation hardened, but not to the high strengths that 2000 and 7000 can reach.
  • 7000 series are alloyed with zinc, and can be precipitation hardened to the highest strengths of any aluminium alloy.
  • 8000 series is a category mainly used for lithium alloys.

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