When it comes to scrap metal, aluminum is a material that frequently finds its way into the hands of scrappers. One particular aluminum alloy that scrappers often encounter is 6061 aluminum. In this blog post, we’ll delve into what 6061 aluminum is, common uses for scrappers, how to clean it, and how it differs from other aluminum alloys.
What is 6061 Aluminum?
6061 aluminum is a versatile alloy celebrated for its remarkable combination of strength, corrosion resistance, and weldability. Part of the 6000 series of aluminum alloys, it’s primarily made of aluminum, magnesium, and silicon, with traces of other elements. Its heat-treatable nature sets it apart, allowing for enhanced mechanical properties through heat treatment processes.
How to Clean 6061 Aluminum
Cleaning 6061 aluminum is crucial in ensuring you get the best prices from your material. It involves the removal of contaminants, foreign materials, and any non-aluminum items that might be mixed in. Here’s a guide on how to clean 6061 aluminum scrap effectively:
- Sorting: Begin by sorting the scrap to identify any non-aluminum materials mixed in, such as steel, plastic, or other metals. Use magnets to separate ferrous metals like steel and visually inspect for other contaminants.
- Cutting and Separating: If the scrap includes large or bulky items like brackets, fasteners, or attachments, consider using cutting tools to separate these non-aluminum components from the 6061 aluminum.
Examples of Aluminum 6061 Scrap
If you’re a scrapper on the lookout for 6061 aluminum, here are some common forms you might come across:
- Extrusions: These are often used in constructing frames, structures, and window frames. Scrappers may stumble upon discarded aluminum extrusions from construction sites or manufacturing facilities.
- Sheets and Plates: 6061 aluminum sheets and plates can be found as scrap, usually due to damage or surplus materials. These can serve as valuable finds for scrappers.
- Machined Parts: Automotive parts, bicycle frames, or mechanical parts can be machined from 6061 aluminum.
- Castings: In industries such as aerospace and automotive, you might encounter castings made from 6061 aluminum that are no longer in use.
How 6061 Aluminum Differs from Other Alloys
you may end up at your local yard with a large haul of aluminum that’s been properly cleaned, only to realize it’s the wrong grade. The most common mixup is usually with 6063 Aluminum scrap. While both are popular extrusion alloys, 6061 is stronger and better suited for structural applications, while 6063 excels in formability and is often used for architectural purposes. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to tell the difference between these two grades at a glance. We recommend getting your metals checked, most likely at your yard, with an XRF analyzer to get a solid idea of what sorts of metals you have.