Aluminium Grades Overview

The 6000 grades of aluminium are also known as the magnesium and silicon grades. Magnesium and silicon are the two main alloying constituents in all 6000 grades and specifications of aluminium.

Grade 6082 is the most common grade of commercial aluminium sections & plates, whilst T6 is the most common temper.

Grade 6063 is a medium strength alloy, it is the most common grade of aluminium for extruding. As far as commercial aluminium sections are concerned, T6 is the most common temper available.

Grade 6061 aluminium is a medium strength aluminium alloy that is predominantly produced for the American market. Grade 6082 is the nearest equivalent grade to this that is readily available in the UK, with very slight differences between the two. 

The 1000 series grades of aluminium are the purest out of all the commercial aluminium grades. Each and every grade in the 1000 series contains a minimum of 99% pure aluminium within it. This high aluminium content gives the 1000 series grades exceptional resistance strength.

Grade 1050 is the most common grade of aluminium sheet available in the UK. Grade 1050 aluminium has the lowest strength of all the commercial grades of aluminium. It is most commonly available in H14 temper, which in technical terms is classed as half hard. 1050H14 is an extremely ductile grade of aluminium, and therefore it is most commonly used by fabricators and sheet metal workers who will bend and form the sheet into a requested shape.

Magnesium is the main element used in the composition of the 5000 series grades of aluminium. The 5000 series grades of aluminium are non heat-treatable alloys. The 5000 series grades also have excellent resistance to corrosion caused by saltwater, for this reason they are often referred to as the Marine Grades of aluminium.

Grade 5083 has the highest strength of all of the non heat treatable alloys, although it is not as strong or as hard as the more common grade 6082.  Grade 5083 is primarily available in plate form, and is most commonly available in O condition.

Grade 5754 is a medium strength alloy. For comparison it is not a strong as grades 6082 or 5083, but 5754 is stronger than grade 5251. Grade 5754 is most commonly used to produce aluminium 5 bar treadplate (often referred to as aluminium chequer plate).

Grade 5251 is a medium strength alloy, usually supplied in sheet form, and is most commonly supplied in temper H22. Previously known as NS4, grade 5251 has many similar attributes to grade 1050 aluminium sheet and is probably the 2nd most popular grade of aluminium sheet used in the UK today.

The 2000 series grades are known as the copper grades of aluminium, copper being the main alloying element. The addition of copper increases the alloys strength and hardness, which in turn improves its machinability.

Grade 2011 is a high performance, high strength aluminium alloy. Grade 2011 is usually supplied in round bars.

Grade 2014 is a high strength aluminium alloy, supplied in bar and plate form. It has excellent machinability and is often interchanged with grade 2011.

Known as the zinc grades – zinc being the largest alloying element, the 7000 series grades are the hardest and strongest commercial grades of aluminium.

Grade 7075 is the most common of the 7000 series grades.  It is an extremely high strength alloy;  the strongest of all commercial grades of aluminium. In fact, grade 7075 aluminium is stronger than many types of mild steel.

A common misconception is that there is an “Aerospace grade” or “Aircraft spec” of aluminium.  Various grades of aluminium from (but not limited to) the 1000 series, 2000 series, 5000 series, 6000 series and 7000 series grades of aluminium are routinely used in the aerospace industry. The aerospace industry does have a greater demand for harder grades, such as 7075, 2011, 2014, 6061 & 6082 than many other industries do, however the exact grade or specification used is very much dependant on the application.  Today phrases such as “Aircraft aluminium”, “Aerospace aluminium”, “Aerospace grade aluminium” and “Aircraft spec aluminium” are generic terms used by the masses to describe a hard, machinable aluminium alloy.

Dural is an obsolete trade name for a heat treatable aluminium copper alloy.  Also known as Duralumin, Duraluminium, Duralum & Duralium, the original Dural contained around 4 – 5% copper, 0.5 – 1% Manganese and 0.5 – 1.5% Magnesium which makes it very close in composition to grades 2014 & 2024.  Today the term “Dural” is often used as a generic term to describe any type of aluminium that has good strength and is suitable for machining.