Aluminum is the most abundant metallic element on earth, accounting for almost 8% of the earth’s crust. 

Aluminum was isolated as an element in 1825. In 1884, when the Washington Monument was completed, a 100 oz. pyramid of aluminum was made to act as a crowning piece. At the time, is was the largest piece of aluminum ever formed. The piece was displayed in Tiffany’s window in New York prior to being mounted on the monument. In 1903, when the Wright Brothers made their historic flight, the engine they had made had an aluminum block. The use of aluminum continues to grow. 

Image shows bundle of ingot as received from the smelter

 Choosing an Aluminum Alloy: 

Choosing the aluminum alloy depends on the service the part must provide to the end user. It is the responsibility of the foundry customer to engage the services of professionals (i.e. metallurgists, engineers) to determine the proper alloy and casting techniques. 

Alloy most commonly used with current customers are:

  • 319
  • 356
  • A356
  • 535
  • A201

Generally known characteristics are as follows:

Alloy 319:

This alloy exhibits good casting qualities, fluidity, can be welded, pressure tightness, and moderate strength, and is stable casting and mechanical properties. It is not significantly affected by fluctuations in impurity content. Applications for this alloy are many and span many industries. During casting, this alloy exhibits good pressure tightness, fluidity, and consistent solidification and shrinkage tendencies. Machining characteristics are good. Carbide-tipped tools are generally recommended. Electroplated finishes are good on these alloys. Mechanical and anodized finishes are of fair quality. Arc welding gives satisfactory welds. Resistance and gas methods can be used. This alloy exhibits good resistance to most common forms of corrosion and can be coated for additional protection.  

Alloy 356:

Alloy 356 has excellent casting characteristics. The alloy is used in many industries including automotive, transportation, aircraft, marine, machinery, and many more. Heat treated to a T6 specification, this alloy is suitable for marine and other wet applications were strength and corrosion-resistance is a requirement. After heat-treating to a T6 specification, 356 has a good polishing characteristics. It is excellent for electroplating and works well with coatings. Good welding characteristics are shown by 356 for all standard welding methods. Corrosion resistance is excellent and coating can provide additional protection. 

Alloy A356:

Alloy A356 has more elongation, higher strength and higher ductility than 356. This is due to lower impurities. Typical applications have a requirement for high strength and this alloy has good resistance to most forms of corrosion. Casting characteristics are excellent. Alloy 356 has good machine-ability. Carbide-tipped tools are recommended. Electroplated finishes are good. Coatings give good protection, but anodized appearance is only fair. Mechanical finishes on A356 are good. All common welding methods are excellent for joining this alloy. 

To explore how we can supply you with the necessary casting for your products, please contact us at (562) 633-6673.

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