There is no shortage of application when it comes to metals. The whole industrial and production market are dependent on strong metals and in this post, we shall highlight two types of precious aluminum metal: the 5052 aluminum and the 6061 aluminum.
If you are currently in a dilemma on what to choose or just curious as to their applicability and differences, read on.
What is 5052 Aluminum?
The 5052 aluminum is considered as one of the most versatile aluminum alloys out there. It is a popular choice for a lot of reasons because it is durable enough to make fuel tanks but also flexible enough to use as material in making kitchen utensils.
As such, the edge of 5052 aluminum is that it is easier to bend but without fear of cracking.
Their versatility is also attributable to the many chemical components that the 5052 has. Its wide range of mechanical properties make them flexible to various industry and everyday use applications.
- Characteristics of 5052 Aluminum: This aluminum grade is dubbed as the strongest non-heat treatable aluminum grade intended for common use. It has a lighter density compared to other commercial grade aluminum.This is also because of its main element composition which is magnesium and chromium, among others. Most importantly, it does not contain copper. This is the reason why it is highly applicable in high salt environments without corrosion.
- Advantages of 5052 Aluminum: Being a flexible aluminum material and being that it is a strong and valuable aluminum intended for common use, the following are the benefits that you can get from the 5052 aluminum: good weldability, high fatigue strength, non-corrosion feature.
- Applications of 5052 Aluminum: There are a lot of applications for the 5052 aluminum. But among its most popular applications would be the following:
- Fuel tanks of aircrafts and marine vessels
- Automotive parts
- Architectural applications
- Food and beverage containers
- Fans and fan blades
- Manufacturing facilities
- General sheet metal work
- Drums and containers
- Fuel lines
What is 6061 Aluminum?
The 6061 is a mainstay in the manufacturing industry. Aside from its more hardened property, it also retains most of the versatile properties of aluminum. It is also mostly used for extrusions.
In the manufacturing industry, the 6061 aluminum, with all its versatility, is considered as the best alternative to steel.
Also called the Alloy 61S or the structural aluminum, the 6061 aluminum is made through precipitation-hardening and then strengthened through other tedious processes.
Nevertheless, they can be folded, rolled, or extruded into various shapes and figures.
- Characteristics of 6061 Aluminum: The main components of the 6061 aluminum which make it as it is are magnesium, silicon, and aluminum. Its impressive mechanical qualities including its composition of copper and zinc, make it easy to be fabricated using various techniques.
- Advantages of 6061 Aluminum: As a tough and at the same time a light material, the 6061 aluminum offers excellent corrosion resistance, superior weldability, high mechanizability and strong to moderate strength. Most importantly, it is heat-treatable, giving way to a variety of applications.
- Applications of 6061 Aluminum: In view of its components and features, the following are the main applications of the 6061 aluminum.
- Military and commercial bridges
- Ship building
- Aerospace applications (such as in helicopter rotors)
- Boiler making
- Truck frames
- Towers and pylons
- Rail coaches
5052 Vs 6061 Aluminum: A Detailed Comparison Between the Two Popular Metal Choices
Now that we have narrowed down the basics as to the 5052 and 6061 aluminums, the ultimate question is how are they different and the same.
Generally, they are divided between the chemical and mechanical components of these two aluminums including a detailed price range and their variants. In this section, we look at a detailed comparison between these two popular metal choices.
1. Material Properties Differences Between 5052 and 6061 Aluminum
At the outset, the first thing to reconcile is the material properties differences between the 5052 and 6061 aluminum. In this way, you get more context as to when and as to what they are used for.
- Element composition: In terms of the element composition of 5052 and 6061, it is understandable that the 6061 is denser because it contains 5% more aluminum component than that of 5052.
- Corrosion resistance: Although both considerably have high corrosion resistance, the 5052 aluminum is considered to have higher resistance to corrosion because it does not have copper content. The absence of copper in its chemical composition allows the existence of another oxide layer which makes it more non-reactive to corrosion. Hence, the 6061 has 4% more tendency to be reactive to corrosion compared to the 5052 aluminum.
- Durability: Durability is measured under the mechanical properties of metals. In this aspect, the 6061 aluminum is considered to be more durable because of its higher yield strength and hardness range.
- Weight: In terms of weight, although you can say that both are made majorly of pure aluminum, 6061 aluminum is 5% greater in aluminum composition than the 5052. As such, the 6061 aluminum is denser, and heavier than the 5052 aluminum.
- Machinability: This one refers to the response of an aluminum type to different processing and treatment phases. These include die-cutting, turning, milling, and other tedious machine operations. In this respect, because of the density and durability of 6061 aluminum, it also exhibits better machinability compared to the 5052 aluminum.
- Weldability: In terms of weldability, the 5052 aluminum reigns supreme over the 6061 aluminum. As a matter of fact, the 5052 aluminum is considered as one with the best welding characteristic out of all aluminum alloys. On the other hand, the lesser weldability of the 6061 aluminum is attributed to the fact that its characteristics would require a specific selection of the best weld filler metal.
In tabular form, these are the differences of the 5052 and 6061 aluminum in terms of the aforementioned aspects:
|Aluminum||Element Composition||Corrosion Resistance||Durability||Weight||Machinability||Weldability|
|5052||85 – 97.70% Aluminum|
|Both with high corrosion resistance. Their high aluminum composition creates an oxide layer which makes both aluminum types non-reactive to so called corrosive substances.||Moderate to strong||2.7 g/cm3|
15% tin and
|Very strong and durable||2.7 g/cm3|
|Good||Good: it requires a proper selection for the filling material during the welding process, however.|
2. Strength Differences Between 5052 and 6061 Aluminum
The strength difference between the 5052 and 6061 aluminum defines their overall machinability and weldability. In both tensile and yield strength, the 6061 aluminum is stronger compared to the 5052 aluminum.
|Aluminum||Tensile Strength||Yield Strength|
|5052||96.5 mPa||193-225 mPa|
|6061||117 mPa||276-310 mPa|
3. Ability to Form
The many applications of the 5052 and 6061 aluminum is all because of their distinct levels of formability and melting points.
- Formability: As to formability, 5052 aluminum exhibits an excellent formability while 6061 aluminum is only at a fair level. The reason for this is the higher general strength of 6061 compared to 5052 aluminum.
- Melting Point: The 6061 aluminum has a higher melting point compared to 5052 aluminum. For the 5052 aluminum, the melting point is at 1125-1200F. On the other hand, the 6061 aluminum has a melting point of 1080-1205F.
4. Appearance and Touch
The appearance and touch of 5052 and 6061 aluminum can be comparable in terms of color and hardness. This sets them apart first hand if you are quite confused as to which one you should choose.
- Color: There is not much difference as to color for these two aluminum grades. The smoothness of the surface will have to give the difference away. 5052 aluminum has a very smooth surface while 6061’s surface is semi-smooth. Both can also be dyed to enable higher corrosion resistance.
- Hardness: As have been previously mentioned, the 6061 aluminum is stronger and harder compared to the 5052 aluminum. As to the hardness, the standard unit of measurement is Brinell. Thus, the Brinell hardness of the 5052 aluminum is only at 95 while the 6061 aluminum is at 150.
5. Conductivity Differences Between 5052 and 6061 Aluminum
Conductivity generally refers to how much electricity or thermal power can go through a particular material. This aspect also determines the applicability of these aluminums in certain products.
- Electrical Conductivity: When it comes to electrical conductivity, it is said that the 6061 aluminum is 7% a better electricity conductor compared to the 5052 aluminum. As such, most electric fibers and enclosures are made of the 6061 aluminum.
- Thermal Conductivity: As to thermal conductivity, the 6061 aluminum is better. The 5052 aluminum only has 960 BTU while the 6061 aluminum is at 1160 BTU. This difference is the main reason why the 6061 aluminum is the preferred choice when it comes to products associated with heat dissipation.
6. Pricing & Options
In general, the 6061 aluminum is more pricey than the 5052 aluminum even when bought at the same volume.
The reason attributed to this is the difference in the processing treatments of these two aluminums. Since the 6061 aluminum has more phases to go through, it is more expensive than the 5052 aluminum.
As to options, under the 5052 aluminum, you can choose from at least 19 varieties. This series includes the 5052-O to the 5052 5052 H-111v variants.
For the 6061 aluminum, you can choose between tempered and non-tempered options. This range from the 6061-O to the 6061-T94 variants.
5052 Vs 6061 Aluminum: Which One to Choose?
To answer the question of which one to choose between 5052 and 6061 aluminum, you have to square out the application you are going for.
Generally, if you are into the fabrication of semiconductors and conductors, the 6061 is a better choice since it offers greater conductivity.
If you are producing everyday use tanks, containers, and cutleries, the 5052 aluminum is the better choice. This is also true if you are manufacturing small appliances and basic aluminum enclosures.
But once what is in question are industrial and structural parts, larger components, containers, and machineries, then the 6061 aluminum is the more formidable choice.
Hence, even if both are corrosion resistant, with high fatigue strength and good weldability, the choice between the two still depends on the type of application you are going for.
5052 Vs 6061 Aluminum: Which is Cheaper?
The price of 5052 and 6061 aluminum differs because of their key features. But to give you a heads-up as to how much you would expect upfront when buying these two aluminum types, here is a range to follow:
Kemal: Manufacturing Metal Parts and Prototypes for You
If you are looking for a dependable manufacturer of metal parts and prototypes, including 5052 and 6061 aluminum and their variants, Kemal Precision Manufacturing Ltd. is a company to consider.
They have been around since 1995, with its headquarters in Guangdong, China.
Among their expertise includes the manufacture of high-quality molds, injection moldings, rapid prototyping, plastic and metal parts for assembly and secondary processing.
Being versatile and trusted in the field, they cater to a wide network of clients not only in China but across the world.
When it comes to choosing the best aluminum type, it pays to know and understand some of its technicalities.
The 5052 and 6061 aluminum metals are only two of the most well-known and well-used types of aluminums in the whole industry and yet, there are a lot of comparable features to know for you to make the better choice.
Since we have already narrowed down the most basic points of differences between the two, you should be more confident in making the aluminum choice now.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to the application you have in mind.