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6063 vs 6061 Aluminum Extrusions

Aluminum extrusions are a crucial component in a wide variety of industries, from construction to automotive and aerospace.

Two of the most popular grades of aluminum alloys for extrusions are 6063 and 6061.

Both these alloys offer a unique combination of properties that make them particularly suited for extrusion.

Zetwerk is a leading supplier of custom aluminum extrusions

Understanding the Basics: What is Aluminum Extrusion?

Before we look at these extruded aluminum alloys in more depth, let’s first establish what extruded aluminum is.

Aluminum extrusions are products made by pushing or drawing heated aluminum alloy through a shaped opening (die) to produce a specific cross-sectional profile.

These aluminum extrusions can create a vast range of shapes and they can be used in many industries due to their strength, light weight, and corrosion resistance.

Common uses include:

  • Structural components in buildings
  • Frames for equipment
  • Heat sinks in electronics
  • Components in aircraft and vehicles

What is 6063 Aluminum Extrusion?

6063 aluminum extrusions are created by pushing heated 6063 alloy through a custom die to create a specific cross-sectional shape.

Known for its excellent formability and smooth surface, this aluminum alloy is often used in architectural and structural applications for its good strength, better corrosion resistance, and pleasing aesthetics.

In-Depth Analysis: Properties of 6063 Aluminum

6065 aluminum alloys, often referred to as architectural aluminum, provides a unique combination of qualities that make it a versatile material in many industries.

Some of its key properties include:

  • Mechanical properties – 6063 aluminum has medium strength, falling between the high-strength 2xxx and 7xxx series alloys and the commercial-purity aluminum. It’s heat-treatable, which allows it to be strengthened after initial forming.
  • Weldability – This aluminum is excellent for welding. It can be fusion welded or friction stir welded.
  • Machinability – While it’s less machinable in the T4 and T6 tempers, 6063 aluminum still has reasonable machinability.
  • Formability – 6063 aluminum is highly formable, particularly for bending, due to its high elongation (the amount it can stretch before it breaks).
  • Corrosion resistance – You’ll enjoy high corrosion resistance, especially against weathering and against atmospheric conditions. This makes it a good choice for architectural applications.
  • Surface quality – One of the key attractions of 6063 aluminum is its high-quality surface finish. This allows it to be anodized or painted to a high standard, which is why it’s often called an architectural alloy.
  • Thermal properties – Finally, 6063 has good thermal conductivity, making it suitable for applications that require the dissipation of heat, like heat sinks in electronic applications.

Applications of 6063 Aluminum

6063 aluminum alloys are commonly used in applications that require complex shapes and high aesthetic appeal due to its excellent formability and attractive surface finish.

Its typical applications include architectural structures like window and door frames, pipe and tubing, furniture frames, and roof structures.

Additionally, thanks to its impressive thermal properties, you can use it in heat transfer applications, for example, heat exchangers and heatsinks in electronics.

Its high corrosion resistance makes it particularly suitable for outdoor and marine environments.

What is 6061 Aluminum Extrusion?

6061 aluminum extrusion refers to the products made by pushing or pulling heated 6061 aluminum alloy through a die to create a desired cross-sectional profile.

Known for its superior strength, machinability, and weldability, 6061 aluminum is often used in applications that require more robustness or are subject to high stress, like construction, aircraft, and heavy-duty structures.

Properties of 6061 Aluminum

6061 aluminum is a versatile and widely used alloy with many excellent properties, making it a preferred choice for many applications.

Here are some of the key properties of 6061 aluminum:

  • Mechanical properties – 6061 aluminum has above-average strength, good machinability, and high toughness. It can be strengthened using the heat-treatment process. Its structural strength and toughness make it a good choice for structures that need to withstand stress.
  • Weldability – It’s very weldable using various techniques, so naturally it’s a popular choice in applications that require welding.
  • Machinability – This aluminum alloy is highly machinable, making it suitable for applications that require intricate machining operations.
  • Formability – In the annealed condition, 6061 aluminum has good formability. Its T4 and T6 tempers, however, can be more challenging to form due to their increased strength.
  • Corrosion resistance – 6061 aluminum provides good corrosion resistance, especially against salt water and harsh weather, making it suitable for outdoor and marine applications.
  • Surface quality – 6061 aluminum provides a good base for producing smooth and aesthetically pleasing results. It can be anodized to improve its corrosion resistance, create a more attractive appearance, and provide a better surface for painting.
  • Thermal properties – It’s a heat-treatable alloy, allowing it to be further strengthened after the initial forming process.

Applications of 6061 Aluminum

6061 aluminum is widely used in a variety of applications due to its excellent mechanical properties and versatility.

It’s a common choice for structural components in the automotive, aerospace, and construction industries due to its strength, machinability, and weldability.

You can find 6061 aluminum in products ranging from bicycle frames and boat hulls to aircraft parts and even beer cans.

It’s also used in the manufacture of heavy-duty structures requiring good corrosion resistance and formability, such as bridges and cranes.

Head to Head: 6063 vs 6061 Aluminum Extrusion

6063 aluminum is highly extrudable and has a smooth surface finish, making it ideal for applications requiring aesthetic appeal, like window and door frames. It has exceptional corrosion resistance, especially in damp environments.

On the other hand, 6061 aluminum is often referred to as a structural alloy. It has superior strength, making it ideal for heavy-duty applications like construction, aircraft, and heavy-duty structures. It also offers excellent machinability and weldability.

Factors to Consider: Choosing between 6063 and 6061 Aluminum

When choosing between 6063 and 6061 aluminum, several factors come into play.

The nature of the project is a key determinant, with 6063 being the go-to for projects that require aesthetic appeal and formability, such as architectural applications.

On the other hand, 6061 is preferred for projects that require higher strength, good machinability, and excellent weldability, like construction and heavy-duty structures.

The working environment is another factor to consider, with 6063 offering better corrosion resistance in damp environments.

Finally, cost and availability might influence the choice, as differences can exist based on the specific profiles and quantities required.

Conclusion: 6063 and 6061 Aluminum Extrusions in the Modern World

All in all, 6063 and 6061 aluminum extrusions play vital roles in the modern world, given their unique properties and applications.

6063 aluminum, with its aesthetic appeal and formability, shines in architectural and design applications, while 6061 aluminum, with its superior strength and weldability, stands out in structural and heavy-duty uses.

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