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Determining The Right Aluminum Bar For Your Application

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Aluminum is an amazing metal that has had a great impact on modern industry.  Its versatility and adaptability mean that it can be used in numerous applications, more cost effective and with greater durability than many other materials.  No matter what your product or job, there’s likely an aluminum alloy that’s right for you.

The downside to this tremendous diversity is that aluminum offers a wide range of options, sometimes making it difficult to know which grade is most suitable.  For instance, aluminum bar is frequently bought in a variety of alloys and a number of distinct shapes, including flat, hexagon, round and square.  That’s not to mention the many specialty, high-performance aluminum alloys that are becoming more affordable every year.

In a perfect world, a manufacturer could take the time to test and prototype a whole range of different materials to learn which type of aluminum works best for a particular application.  This process can be time consuming, and even though aluminum is well known for its ease of use (particularly for prototyping) it may be necessary to act swiftly. That’s why working with a knowledgeable, responsive material supplier is a necessity.

What are the benefits of working with aluminum bar?

As the most abundant metal found in the Earth’s crust, aluminum is a bountiful resource that offers a number of key benefits. Primary among them, aluminum exhibits an amazing strength-to-weight ratio that has made it a transformative material in architecture and engineering.  It is also extremely durable and can withstand heavy forces.  For instance, in automotive applications aluminum can absorb twice the crash energy of steel, allowing for vehicles to be simultaneously lighter and safer.

Another of the most prized properties of aluminum bar is its corrosion resistance.  The metal naturally forms a protective oxide coating on its surface that makes it highly resistant to most types of corrosion.  Some alloys are even able to endure in marine environments for extended periods of time.  Furthermore, aluminum can be treated in a number of ways such as anodizing, painting or lacquering to increase its resistance even further.

Aluminum is also very formable, making it easy to work with and allowing the metal to be adapted to all kinds of applications. Aluminum bar can be bent and shaped in any number of ways.  Other benefits include high ductility, thermal/electrical conductivity and reflexivity.  Aluminum is also hygienic, making it extremely popular in industries such as food, beverage and medical.

Furthermore, aluminum is easy to recycle, meaning not only is it good for the environment but it is also cheaper to work with because there is much less waste material.

Different aluminum grades have different properties, so it’s important to know which alloy will work best for your particular application before getting started.

What are the common alloys used to make aluminum bar?

Clinton Aluminum carries aluminum bar in a number of popular alloys.  We offer 6061 aluminum, probably the most popular alloy on the market, in flat, square, hex and round bar stock.  6061 is alloyed with silicon and magnesium and is renowned for its excellent corrosion resistance.  It machines and welds with ease, can be cold worked or hot formed and performs well in other fabrication processes such as drilling, tapping, saw cutting, deep drawing, stamping and bending.

Another popular aluminum bar grade we have in stock is 7075 alloy, which uses zinc as the prominent alloying agent.  This is one of the highest strength aluminum chemistries available, save for some of the newer high-performance alloys.  The tempering of this alloy has a significant impact on its mechanical properties.  It is highly corrosion resistant and offers a tremendous strength-to-weight ratio. Another benefit is its high polishability for cosmetic applications.

Also available is 2024 aluminum bar.  This grade is primarily alloyed with copper and offers both excellent strength and good fatigue resistance.  On the other hand, standard welding practices are not recommended for this grade and it exhibits fair machinability. 2024 does not have the same amount of corrosion resistance as some other aluminum alloys, but it can be anodized or used in clad form, lending it more protection against corrosion.

Another option is 6063 aluminum, which is alloyed mainly with magnesium and silicon. It is famous for having good tensile properties and finishing characteristics while still maintaining adequate corrosion resistance.  It is commonly extruded, and it allows for a variety of complex shapes with smooth surfaces.  It is also suitable for a variety of anodizing applications.

Clinton Aluminum also offers aluminum bar in some of the less common alloys and we are able to fill custom orders.  Just let us know what you need.

What industries commonly use aluminum bar?

Because aluminum bar is either extruded or rolled it is suitable for use in a number of different industries and products.  As an example, machine and equipment parts are frequently made with aluminum bar.  It is also be used in architecture and engineering, for structural components, frames, and other key parts.  Other uses include medical assemblies, aircraft, firearms and semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

With so much variety and versatility, it can be challenging to find the right alloy.  At Clinton Aluminum, we strive to be more than just a metal supplier.  We want to be true partners to our clients, working with them at every step of the procurement process.  Our sales professionals have years of experience working in the industry and we are eager to share our expertise. Whether you are looking for one of our standard offerings or need something custom made to fit your particular application, we are standing ready to help.

Contact us today to learn more about our aluminum bar offerings.

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