Aluminum Alloys for Metal Stamping

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Aluminum Alloys for Metal Stamping

Aluminum alloys are grades of aluminum containing other elements that enhance the strength, durability, and other properties of pure aluminum. Adding different alloying elements allows the material to perform in a range of applications. 

Elements often added to aluminum include:

  • Silicon
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Manganese

These elements can make up at least 15% of the final alloy by weight. Here we’ll explain the properties and types of aluminum alloys, as well as what makes a good alloy for metal stamping.

What Are Aluminum Alloys?

Aluminum alloys contain aluminum as the predominant metal along with other alloying elements. There are two major forms of aluminum alloys: wrought and cast alloys.

A cast aluminum alloy is an alloy that is melted in a furnace and poured into a mold to cool and solidify. Finished components have a low melting point, and the process creates cost-effective products. However, cast alloys generally have lower tensile strength than wrought alloys. Wrought aluminum alloys are alloys worked in solid form with the help of specialized tools. Aluminum stamping utilizes these alloys, which can be separated into two categories: wrought non-heat-treatable and wrought heat-treatable. 

Cast and wrought aluminum have different identification systems. Cast aluminum alloys are identified by three digits followed by one decimal place. Wrought alloys follow a four-digit system, in which the first digit identifies the principal alloying element. The second digit, if not a 0, signifies a modification of the alloy, while the third and fourth digits identify the specific alloy. For non-heat-treatable alloys, a suffix is added to the number to indicate temper designation.

Aluminum Alloy Properties 

One of the major benefits of aluminum alloys is their excellent strength-to-weight ratio: they are strong without being heavy. Because they are light, they are often used in commercial projects and transportation applications, where reduced weight results in cost savings. 

Since they are light and effective, aluminum alloy parts last longer and require less raw material to make. These and the following characteristics make aluminum alloys ideal for metal stamping operations:

  • Thermal and electrical conductivity
  • Flexibility and malleability
  • Shiny, smooth finish requires little maintenance
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Strength at low and high temperatures

Types of Aluminum Alloys 

There are three types of aluminum alloys:

  • Wrought non-heat-treatable
    • Made up of high-purity aluminum alloys (1xxx series), manganese alloys (3xxx series), and magnesium alloys (5xxx series), all of which are used for metal stamping
    • Hardened mainly through cold working
  • Wrought heat-treatable
    • Consists of copper, magnesium, or zinc as alloying elements
    • Includes 2xxx series, 6xxx series, and 7xxx series
    • Precipitation hardening enhances the alloy’s strength
  • Cast aluminum alloys
    • Includes non-heat-treatable and heat-treatable alloys
    • 2xxx, 3xxx, 4xxx, 7xxx, 8xxx series
    • Strength levels are not as high as those of wrought heat-treatable alloys

Aluminum Alloys for Metal Stamping

Aluminum is available in various alloys and tempers. The best product varies by project. Here are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing an aluminum grade:

  • Level of workability or formability 
  • Level of corrosion resistance
  • Strength level
  • Typical applications
  • Weldability or machinability
  • Type of heat treatment

These are the characteristics and applications of the common aluminum alloys used for metal stamping:

Aluminum Alloy Alloying Elements Characteristics Common Applications
1100 Commercially pure aluminum Ductile and soft

Excellent corrosion resistance

Useful for applications that require intricate forming because it hardens slower than other alloys

Kitchenware, decorative trim, giftware
3003 Commercially pure aluminum with manganese added Most frequently used aluminum alloy; inexpensive

Manganese increases strength by about 20% over  1100 aluminum

Corrosion resistance

Good workability 

Can be welded, deep drawn, spun, or brazed

Cooking utensils, kitchen equipment, chemical equipment
5052 Alloyed with magnesium Highest strength alloy of the common non-heat-treatable grades

Fatigue strength is better than other alloys

Excellent resistance to marine atmospheres and saltwater corrosion

Optimal workability and good finishing characteristics

Aircraft components, home appliances, heavy-duty cooking utensils

Contact Us for the Top Selection of Aluminum Alloys

For the best turnaround time and price, Keats Manufacturing recommends selecting common gauge and common alloys. Since 1958, we have been crafting stamped metal parts for each client’s needs. We have a strict adherence to our quality control system, ensuring that your customer satisfaction and confidence are our top priority.

Over the decades, unique projects and parts have come through our facility. Decisions for design details and custom tooling influence the performance of the parts, but the material used is always the most critical decision made in the manufacturing process.

To learn more about how we can help with your next project, contact our team. For more information about the materials we use, check out our downloadable eBook, Choosing the Best Raw Materials.

Steel Alloys for Metal Stamping

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Steel is one of the most widely used alloys and is comprised of carbon (less than 2%) and manganese (1%). Other small amounts of silicon, phosphorus, sulphur, and oxygen are also present. Steel is an integral component to almost all forms of production and construction, ranging from surgical equipment to household items.

This type of metal is 100% recyclable, and steel products last for approximately 40 years. It is produced from either the Blast Furnace Basic Oxygen Route (BF-BOF) or from the Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) route. Both of these routes contribute to the production of crude steel. The Blast Furnace Basic Furnace Oxygen Route utilizes the following to manufacture crude steel:

  • Iron ore
  • Coal
  • Limestone
  • Steel scrap

The Electric Arc Furnace Method utilizes all of these and electricity for crude steel manufacturing.

Since the magnetic properties remain unchanged, this metal can be continuously recycled. Recycled steel can serve as input for BF-BOF and EAP methods, contributing to the production of many new steel products. They contain approximately 37% of recycled steel. Because of its lightweight structure, cost efficiency, corrosion resistance, and energy efficiency, steel is used in almost every type of building and construction process. Applications constructed with this material include:

  • Automobiles
  • Buildings and infrastructure
  • Metal products
  • Mechanical/electrical equipment
  • Domestic appliances

Types of Steel Alloys

There are more than 3,500 grades of steel that are integral to engineering and construction projects. All contain forms of sulphur, phosphorus, and manganese. Manganese is beneficial to steel’s sustainability; however, too much phosphorus and sulphur in the alloy can have detrimental effects on steel’s durable properties.

There are four categories of this material:

Carbon Steels are used in 90% of steel production and contain trace elements of alloy products. They are classified into three subcategories: low, medium, and high. Low carbon steels contain up to 0.3% carbon, medium steels contain 0.3-0.6% carbon, and high steels contain more than 0.6%. They can be formed into a variety of shapes, ranging from Flat Sheet to Structural Beam.

Alloy Steels are used for pipelines, transformers, auto parts, power generators, and electric motors. Heat applications soften the material for welding and cutting applications. They contain:

  • Manganese
  • Silicon
  • Nickel
  • Titanium
  • Copper
  • Chromium
  • Aluminum

Stainless Steels are extremely resistant to corrosion, due to its high chromium content (10-20%). They are grouped into three subcategories, based on crystalline molecular structure:

  • Austenitic (piping, kitchen utensils)
  • Ferritic (automotive, appliances, industrial equipment)
  • Martensitic (cutting tools, dental, and surgical equipment)

Tool Steels are durable and heat resistant. The addition of tungsten, molybdenum, cobalt, and vanadium makes the raw material suitable for the production of dental and surgical equipment.

Custom Steel Metal Stamping for Your Next Project

At Keats Manufacturing Company, we provide custom steel metal stamping. Since 1958, we have produced assortments of components for industries ranging from aerospace and automotive industries to communications, construction, medical, and military industries.

Primary steel alloys we use in the stamping process:

  • 1008 /1010 – Cold Rolled Steel / Low Carbon / Usually cold formed and post plated
  • 1050 – Annealed Spring Steel / Considered High Carbon for us / Usually heat treated after stamping – Used for clips mostly
  • 1075 – Annealed Spring Steel / Considered High Carbon for us / Usually heat treated after stamping – Used for clips mostly
  • HSLA – (High Strength Low Alloy)

We engineer our tool and die sets in-house and frequently work with high-volume production projects. We offer multi-slide and full-slide stamping, which is best suited for complex bending operations for metal parts. We also offer full-service customer metal stamping (heat treating, plating, e-coating, screw insertion, tape and reel). Our focus is on quality control as we strive to customize stamping parts to clients’ specifications, budget, and turnaround time.

To learn more about our products or if you’d like to get started on your steel metal stamping project, contact us today and a member of our team will walk you through all the details.