Often chosen for its weight-to-strength ratio, aluminum is one of the most abundant and versatile metals used in manufacturing. In most manufacturing applications, different types of aluminum alloys are chosen because their properties are well-suited to the manufacturing process or the end-use of a component or structure. Aluminum alloys are produced by adding elements such as zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese, iron, and silicon to pure aluminum to enhance its characteristics, principally by increasing strength. The percentage of alloying elements added to pure aluminum affects the properties of the material produced. Some aluminum alloys may contain as much as 15% alloying elements by weight. 

A Standard Method for Indicating the Different Types of Aluminum Alloys 

There are many different types of aluminum alloys. An industry-standard four-digit number is used to differentiate the various alloys based on the alloying elements. For the moment, we’ll focus on the first digit that identifies the series or type of alloy characterized by its main alloying elements.


  • The 2— series uses copper as the primary alloying element. It can be heat-treated to improve strength and toughness. Although copper improves the workability of the alloy, it diminishes corrosion resistance in comparison to other aluminum alloys. Aluminum 2024 is a widely-used aircraft alloy.
  • The 5— series uses magnesium as the primary alloying element, though smaller percentages of magnesium are used in many other aluminum alloys. 5— alloys have moderate to high strength, good corrosion resistance in marine environments (aluminum 5083), and good weldability.
  • The 6—- series uses magnesium and silicon as the primary alloying elements. These alloys can be solution heat-treated to improve strength. 6— alloys are used in welding fabrication, extruded architectural components (windows and doors), and truck and marine frames. 6061 is the most widely used alloy in this series.
  • The 7— series uses zinc as the primary alloying element. Adding smaller amounts of magnesium, as well, produces a heat-treatable, high-strength alloy. Several of the 7— series alloys also use small amounts of copper and chromium elements. Aluminum 7050 and 7075 are widely used in aircraft manufacturing.

Understanding Specific In-Demand Aluminum Alloys 

Among the wide range of aluminum alloys, 2024, 5083, 6061, 7050, and 7075 are frequently requested by manufacturers, fabricators, and machine shops in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. The tables below provide additional information on these different types of aluminum alloys to provide a better sense of their properties and specific applications.  

Aluminum 2024

Chemical Composition Properties Applications
aluminium 94.7%, copper 4.9%, magnesium 1.8%, silicon 0.5%, iron 0.5%, manganese 0.9%, chromium 0.1%, zinc 0.25%, titanium 0.15%. The maximum percentages are listed; actual percentages vary slightly, depending on the manufacturer. Copper, magnesium, and manganese greatly increase this alloy’s strength. The high copper percentage, however, reduces corrosion resistance. This alloy offers good cyclic fatigue resistance—ideal for airplane structures. It has good machinability and surface finish, though it’s not as machinable and is more difficult to weld than 6061. It’s widely used in structures for aerospace such as wings and fuselages that experience cyclic stress, as well as in truck wheels, pistons, worm gears, shear pins, hydraulic manifold blocks, impact machinery, and computer components.


Aluminum 5083

Chemical Composition Properties Applications
aluminium 95.6%, chromium 0.25%, copper 0.1%, iron 0.4%, magnesium 4.9%, manganese 1.0%, silicon 0.4%, titanium 0.15%, zinc 0.25%. The maximum percentages are listed; actual percentages vary slightly, depending on the manufacturer. It performs exceptionally in extreme environments such as seawater and harsh chemicals. Aluminum 5083 offers the highest strength of non-heat-treatable aluminum alloys and maintains exceptional strength post-welding. It’s not recommended for use in temperatures above 65°C (145°F). It’s widely used in structures subject to continuous stress and wear such as shipbuilding, pressure vessels, truck bodies and beds, and rail cars.


Aluminum 6061

Chemical Composition Properties Applications
aluminium 97.9%, magnesium 1.2%, silicon 0.80%, copper 0.4%, iron 0.7%, chromium 0.35%, zinc, 0.25%, titanium 0.15%, manganese 0.15%. The maximum percentages are listed; actual percentages vary slightly, depending on the manufacturer. Aluminum 6061 is one of the most commonly used aluminum alloys; it’s also known as “structural aluminum.” It’s highly resistant to corrosion, stress, and cracking, though it provides medium fatigue strength. Thin sections can be welded using gas tungsten arc; thick sections can be welded using the gas metal arc. Beware of reduced strength in the weld zone. It’s widely used in aircraft, marine, and electrical fittings and hardware, as well as in piping, bike frames, hinge pins, brake and hydraulic pistons, valves and valve components, building products, outdoor furniture, and structural applications.


Aluminum 7050

Chemical Composition Properties Applications
aluminum 90.3%, zinc 6.7%, copper 2.6%, magnesium 2.6%, iron 0.15%, manganese 0.10%, silicon 0.12%, zirconium 0.12%, titanium 0.06%. The maximum percentages are listed; actual percentages vary slightly, depending on the manufacturer. Aluminum 7050 has high-strength, high-fatigue resistance from the zinc alloy. It also resists stress corrosion cracking, is stronger than 6061, and is ideal for heavy plate applications. Avoid welding to prevent cracking and porosity. It’s most widely used where strength is a very high priority such as in marine, automotive, and aerospace structures and components, as well as hang glider frames and firearms. 


Aluminum 7075

Chemical Composition Properties Applications
aluminum 89.0%, zinc 6.2%, magnesium 2.5%, copper 2.3%, chromium 0.23%, zirconium 0.12%. The maximum percentages are listed; actual percentages vary slightly, depending on the manufacturer. Aluminum 7075 is one of the strongest aluminum alloys. It’s ideal for components and structures subject to high-stress and fatigue-inducing heavy wear. The copper content improves workability but reduces corrosion resistance. It’s best used in industries that require light weight plus strength, such as in aerospace, defense, worm gears, and shafts.

Different Types of Aluminum Alloys Available Locally 

Industrial Metal Service specializes in supplying aluminum for machine shops, fabricators, and manufacturers in the San Francisco Bay Area. We also ship nationwide to shops that don’t have the benefit of a local, reliable metal supplier. We stock an extensive inventory of aluminum alloys and offer customers the option of buying new material sourced from U.S. mills or verified aluminum alloy remnants, which offers considerable savings in comparison to buying new material. 

Different types of aluminum alloys stacked and ready for delivery to San Francisco Bay Area machine shops and fabricators.


We can help you accelerate your production process by providing you with aluminum alloys cut to the exact dimensions required for your machining or fabrication process with our precision cut-to-size sawing services

Whether you need a regularly scheduled aluminum alloy supply for long-term production needs, a custom alloy order for a special project, or a last-minute order to make up for a botched machining process, call us and we’ll work with you to meet your needs. Our warehouse in San Jose, California is open Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 4 PM and Saturdays from 8 AM to 12 PM.
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IMS Team

Industrial Metal Service has decades of experience and over 1.1 billion pounds of metal sold and recycled. Our founder, Jeff, has spent his life in the industry and prides himself on offering fair, efficient, trustworthy, knowledgeable, outstanding customer service. We offer metal salesmetal recycling pickup service, and other associated services, such as precise metal sawing, machinery teardown, and warehouse cleanupGive us a call and we’ll get it done.