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Identifying Aluminum 5052 & 6061 Similarities and Differences

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As a highly versatile material, aluminum’s corrosion resistance, lightweight, and high tensile strength have made it a preferred metal material for a wide variety of industrial uses and applications. Given the depth and options of aluminum grades, it can often be challenging to ascertain which alloy is best for your application needs or component requirements.

What are the Similarities Between Aluminum Alloy 5052 and 6061?

The most widely used aluminum grades are 5052 aluminum and 6061 aluminum. Each aluminum alloy grade provides unique advantages and disadvantages, depending on your specific application requirements. Beneficial features common to aluminum alloy 6061 and 5052 include advanced corrosion resistance, lightweight, and high tensile strength.

Aluminum 6061 Aluminum 5052
  • Heat-treatable
  • Excellent machinability
  • Excellent corrosion resistance
  • Semi-smooth surface
  • Lightweight
  • High-tensile strength
  • Non-heat-treatable
  • Excellent weldability
  • High corrosion resistance
  • Smooth surface
  • Lightweight
  • High-tensile strength

What is the Difference Between 6061 and 5052 Aluminum?

Aluminum is a highly versatile and valuable material due to its corrosion resistance, lightweight, and high tensile strength. Two of the most popular aluminum alloys are 6061 and 5052. These alloys contain varying amounts of other elements, giving them mechanical properties which tailor them to different applications. For example, 5052 aluminum is easier to form and bend without cracking.
On the other hand, 6061 aluminum is easily extruded into shapes like channels, angles, and tees, and it can undergo heat treatment, which gives it superior strength and hardness. However, both types of aluminum maintain certain similarities, including the ability to be anodized, which increases corrosion resistance or, if desired, adds a colored finish.

6061 Aluminum vs 5052 Aluminum Performance Characteristics

Differences between 6061 Aluminum and 5052 Aluminum

Aluminum 6061 Characteristics

Sometimes called “structural aluminum,” Aluminum 6061 is one of the most common aluminum alloys used for extrusions. Its primary alloying element is magnesium, providing an alloy with medium to high strength, excellent machinability, and good weldability.

Aluminum 6061 can be forged, rolled, or extruded into various shapes. Angles, tees, and shapes made of Aluminum 6061 are a good substitution for steel.

Industrial Applications for Aluminum 6061 Plate
  • Tooling plate
  • Aircraft components
  • Bridge railing components
  • Defense machinery
  • Transportation equipment
  • Storage tanks
  • Welded structural parts
Industrial Applications for Aluminum 6061 Channels, Angles, and Tees
  • Scaffolding
  • Ship and building construction
  • Transmission towers
  • Truck trailers
  • Machine parts
  • Furniture applications

Aluminum 6061 Tempers

Aluminum 6061 alloy is heat treatable. Its corrosion resistance and strength are improved by age hardening. Age hardening allows the metal to be heated to a specific temperature and then cooled and aged to a stable condition.
Aluminum 6061-T4Aluminum 6061-T6 Aluminum 6061-T6
  • Ages naturally
  • Has slightly lower tolerance accuracy than T6
  • Lower tensile strength and yield strength than T6
  • Non-heat-treatable
  • Excellent weldability
  • High corrosion resistance
  • Smooth surface
  • Lightweight
  • High-tensile strength

Aluminum 6061-T4 Applications

Aluminum sheet 6061-T4 is used in many types of industrial applications, including:
  • Aircraft panels
  • Automotive panels
  • Trailer frames
  • Packaging
  • Valves and couplings
  • Fishing reels
  • Marine fittings

Aluminum 6061-T6 Applications

Typical 6061-T6 Aluminum applications include:
  • Heat sinks
  • Hydraulic piping
  • Bicycle frames
  • Water tubing
  • Aircraft and aerospace applications

5052 Aluminum Characteristics

Aluminum 6061 and Aluminum 5052 have magnesium as a primary alloying element, but 5052 Aluminum does not contain silicon. Aluminum 5052 has a smoother finish than 6061, although it is not heat-treatable. Aluminum 5052 has a higher fatigue strength and modulus of elasticity than Aluminum 6061, making it an excellent forming alloy. Additional aluminum alloy 5052 characteristics include:
  • Non-heat treatable
  • High strength/high fatigue strength
  • Weldable and cold workable
  • Corrosion resistant, especially for marine or saltwater applications

Aluminum 5052 Sheet Applications

Aluminum sheet 5052 is used in many types of industrial applications, including:
  • Refrigerator liners
  • Fuel tanks
  • Storm shutters
  • Electrical enclosure panels

Aluminum Plate 5052 Applications

Aluminum plate 5052 is used in many types of industrial applications, including:
  • Marine hardware
  • Boat hulls
  • Tanks
  • Drums

The IMS Difference

What separates IMS from other metals companies? With an abundance of metal options and customer service that is second to none, IMS has you covered with the following advantages:
  • Next-day delivery of processed material via our trucks
  • Same-day pick-up in Will-Call
  • No minimum purchase
  • Support of Just-in-Time manufacturing processes
  • Salespeople that act as an extension of your purchasing department (we will get any metal products you need)
  • Material management (stocking and delivery on a scheduled basis)
  • Credit lines with good terms
  • Knowledgeable staff that knows metal
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Delivering Premium Aluminum Alloy 6061 and 5052 Throughout Southern CA, Arizona & Nevada

Industrial Metal Supply is your trusted supplier of high-quality, in-stock aluminum 5052 and 6061 products, including bar, tube, pipe, sheet, plate, and structural shapesGet in touch with our sales team for world-class metal products and services today.

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