Different Aluminum Scrap Grades & How They Are Used

Aluminum is a common non-ferrous metal used in several different applications. A recent question we received was: What common items are made from different aluminum alloys? Where can I find these different types of aluminum scrap? Well, we’re going to tell you. So, let’s begin with the several grades of aluminum, and we’ll go from there.

Suggested Read: Metal Monday: Difference of Metal & Alloy

Different Series & Grades of Aluminum Scrap 

1xxx Series of Aluminum

aluminum trays

Characteristics:

  • Comprised of 99% aluminum or higher
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Workability
  • High thermal and electrical conductor

Applications:

  • Electrical 
  • Food Packaging Trays 
  • Power Grid Lines 

2xxx Series of Aluminum

painted aluminum aircraft

Characteristics: 

  • Copper is the principal alloying element
  • High strength and toughness
  • Not as high a level of corrosion resistance (usually painted or clad)

Applications:

  • Aircraft 

3xxx Series of Aluminum

Characteristics:

  • Alloyed with Manganese 
  • Moderate strength 
  • Good workability

Applications:

  • Heat exchangers 
  • Cooking utensils 
  • Builder’s hardware 

Notable:

  • Aluminum 3003 – ductwork, chemical equipment, general sheet metal work, cooking utensils 

4xxx Series of Aluminum

Characteristics:

  • Combined with silicon
  • Low melting point

Applications: 

  • Welding 
  • Structural and automotive 

Notable: 

  • Aluminum 4043 – Welding filler wire, spray, and flame metalizing wire  

5xxx Series of Aluminum

Characteristics:

  • Magnesium primary alloying agent 
  • Moderate to high strength
  • Good weldability
  • Good resistance to corrosion 

Applications: 

  • Building and Construction
  • Storage tanks
  • Pressure vessels
  • Marine applications 

Notable:

  • Aluminum 5052 – electronics, medical equipment, hardware signs, and marine applications

6xxx Series of Aluminum

Characteristics: 

  • Silicon and Magnesium Alloyed
  • Versatile
  • Heat treatable
  • Highly Formable/Weldable 
  • Moderately High Strength 
  • Corrosion Resistant

Applications: 

  • Certain versions of the Apple iPhone 
  • Truck and Marine Frames 
  • Extrusion products

Notable Grades:

  • Aluminum 6061Most Widely Used alloy in this series and often used in truck and marine frames
  • Aluminum 6063Architectural and structural, marine craft, other marine applications, auto, and cycling frames and components 

7xxx Series of Aluminum

Characteristics:

  • Zinc is the primary alloying agent 
  • High strength
  • Heat treatable

Applications: 

  • Aircraft industry
  • Apple Watch 

Notable Grades: 

  • Aluminum 7050/7075 – aircraft – wings, bulk-head, fuselages; cycling frames 

Now that you know the different applications of the several grades of aluminum, you might have a better idea of where to find certain aluminum scrap. Some grades will be easier to find than others, like aluminum cooking utensils and electronics. Others may be a bit harder, like aluminum used in marine, architectural, and construction applications. 

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