6061 and 6063 aluminum alloys are the most widely used metals in the extrusion sector. They have been applied in numerous industries, including construction, recreational products, aerospace, and transportation, among others. Due to their many similarities, it is often difficult for some designers to determine which option is best for their purposes. While the differences between the two are minimal, you must understand them before making any decision.
Alloy 6061 Overview
Aluminum alloy 6061 is commonly referred to as “structural aluminum,” and it is a reliable and widely used choice. As a member of the 6000 series, the alloy is made out of magnesium and silicon, with the former increasing its strength while the latter lowers its melting point.
International guidelines dictate that an aluminum alloy must contain between 0.8% and 1.2% magnesium and 0.4% and 0.8% silicon for it to be considered 6061. Thanks to its well-rounded physical properties, alloy 6061 has been mainly applied to structural and building products, aerospace applications, and sports and recreation equipment.
Alloy 6063 Overview
Commonly referred to as “architectural aluminum,” alloy 6063 has been optimized to offer improved extrudability. This material provides a high-quality surface that allows for easy anodizing. Like every other 6000 series alloy, 6063 is made up of magnesium and silicon, however, at much lower quantities compared to 6061.
For alloys to be classified as 6063, they require a magnesium content between 0.45% and 0.9%, while the silicon content has to range between 0.2% and 0.6%. Alloy 6063 shares many similarities with 6061; however, there are some key differences. For example, 6063 offers better corrosion resistance, workability, weldability, and brazeability.
Applications of 6061 vs. 6063
You will generally find aluminum 6061 alloy in the following applications:
- Shipbuilding – hardware, marine fittings, yachts, and sailboats
- Aerospace – aircraft structures and fittings
- Home and Business – awnings, furniture, appliance fittings, and moldings
- Automotive – truck and bus bodies, brake and hydraulic pistons, wheels, and various transportation end uses
- Rail – railway car components
- Food Service – food and beverage cans
- Miscellaneous – gussets, structural framing, base plants, magneto parks, hinge pins, valve parts, scuba tanks, bike frames, couplings, fire ladders, camera lens mounts, bridge components, pipe fittings, connectors, and electrical fittings
Aluminum alloy 6063 is popular for the following industries/applications:
- Architectural – structural supports, brackets, framework, trims
- Automotive – trailers and truck frames
- Home goods – recreational equipment and aluminum furniture
- General construction – signage, roofs, window frames, door frames, stair rails, and pipes
How to Choose Between Aluminum 6061 or 6063
The alloy you choose varies based on how you intend to use them. While both material options can deliver satisfactory results for various projects, considering your specific application requirements will help you make the best choice.
For extrusion purposes, alloy 6063 is the most popular alloy in use. Alloy 6063 offers resistance to corrosion with an attractive surface finish that is ideal for anodizing. This alloy is most suitable for applications that require adequate strength and improved corrosion resistance.
As the second most popular material for extrusion, alloy 6061 offers a slightly better strength-to-weight ratio compared to 6063. It also offers exceptional weldability and machinability. You should consider using alloy 6061 if you are willing to compromise on corrosion resistance for higher strength.
Partner With Tri-State Aluminum
While there are slight differences between alloy 6061 and 6063, the two offer different properties that make them more suitable for specific applications. At Tri-State Aluminum, we offer end-to-end custom extrusion services and can assist in designing, extruding, cutting, fabricating, finishing, and packing.
To learn more about aluminum alloy 6061 and 6063, or for help determining which material is best for your application, contact us today. You can also request a quote to work with us on your next project.