Aluminum Alloys for Metal Stamping

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An aluminum alloy is a chemical composition in which other elements are added to pure aluminum to enhance its properties—primarily to improve its strength. The elements often added to aluminum include:

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

They can sometimes make up at least 15% of the final alloy by weight.

Aluminum Alloys

Every aluminum alloy is assigned a four-digit number. The first digit identifies the general class, or series, that is characterized by its main alloying elements. The types of alloys include:

  • Commercially pure alloys
  • Heat-treatable alloys
  • Non-heat-treatable alloys

Temper designations for non-heat-treatable alloys are indicated by a suffix added to the alloy number.

Some key characteristics of aluminum alloys are:

  • High strength-to-weight ratio
  • Flexible and malleable
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Shiny and smooth decorative finish that requires little maintenance
  • Thermal and electrical conductivity
  • Low temperature resistance

Aluminum alloys provide a variety of benefits, particularly for applications that need strength without heavy weight. The alloys are one of the lightest metals used in commercial projects, and they often appear in applications for the transportation industry because reductions in weight help with fuel savings. Furthermore, aluminum alloys’ light weight and natural corrosion resistance result in the parts lasting longer as well as allowing them to be made from significantly less raw material. Since aluminum is flexible and malleable, metal stamping can form aluminum and aluminum alloys into complex geometric shapes.

Aluminum alloy applications include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Aluminum cans
  • Aerospace
  • Building & construction
  • Automotive
  • Foil & packaging
  • Electronics & appliances

Aluminum Alloys for Metal Stamping

There are three main aluminum alloys used for metal stamping:

  • 1100: Commercially pure aluminum. It is ductile and soft, with good workability. It’s useful for applications that require intricate forming because it hardens slower than other alloys. Common applications include kitchenware, decorative trim, and giftware.
  • 3003: The most frequently used of all aluminum alloys. It is commercially pure aluminum with manganese added, which increases its strength by about 20% over 1100. It has great corrosion-resistance and workability, allowing it to be welded, deep drawn or spun, or brazed. Common applications include cooking utensils, kitchen equipment, and chemical equipment.
  • 5052: The highest strength alloy of the common non-heat-treatable grades. Its fatigue strength is better than other alloys, and it has excellent resistance to the marine atmosphere and saltwater corrosion. It has optimal workability and good finishing characteristics. Its common applications include aircraft components, home appliances, and heavy-duty cooking utensils.

When choosing an aluminum grade, there are a few factors to consider:

  • Its level of formability or workability
  • Weldability
  • Machining
  • Its level of corrosion-resistance
  • Heat treating
  • Strength
  • Typical end-use applications

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 to 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 Used in Custom Metal Stamping Process

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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.

Learn More About Using Steel Alloys 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 custom 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 alloy project, contact us today and a member of our team will walk you through all the details.