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Key Differences of 6061 Aluminum vs. 6063 Aluminum

The 6000 aluminum series are aluminum alloys primarily alloyed with magnesium and silicon. As a class, they are sometimes thought of as ‘structural’ or ‘architectural’ aluminum. Two alloys in this class stand out due to how common they are: 6061 and 6063. These metals are found in just about every use of cut-to-size aluminum plate and bar stock making everything from bicycle frames to decorative windows. They combine their lightweight with medium-to-high strength and excellent workability, making them very versatile.

In spite of being in the same class and sharing many of the same properties, many still wonder about the differences in 6061 aluminum vs. 6063. They are differentiated in their use cases—some are merely aesthetic, while others are more integral to their strength.

 

Mechanical Properties of 6061 Aluminum vs. 6063

Comparing 6061 vs. 6063 isn’t as straightforward as comparing one aluminum alloy to the other due to the two different tempers of each aluminum alloy in common use. These aluminum alloys are naturally aged T4 aluminum and artificially aged T6. Artificially aged (undergoing a heat treatment process) 6061 and 6063 are much stronger than T4 equivalents. A complete comparison of the mechanical properties of 6061 aluminum vs. 6063 aluminum can be viewed in the table below:

 

6061 Aluminum vs. 6063 Aluminum

6061 Aluminum

6063 Aluminum

Property

T4 6061

T6 6061

T4 6063

T6 6063

Brinell Hardness

65

95

46

73

Tensile Strength

35,000 psi

45,000 psi

25,000 psi

35,000

Yield Strength

21,000 psi

40,000

13,000 psi

31,000

Modulus of Elasticity

10,000 ksi

10,000 ksi

10,000 ksi

10,000 ksi

Shear Modulus

3,770 ksi

3,770 ksi

3,740 ksi

3,740 ksi

Shear Strength

24,000 psi

30,000 psi

16,000 psi

22,000

Anodization Reaction

Good

Good

Good

Good

Composition

6061

6063

Aluminum

95.8 – 98.6%

<=97.5%

Chromium

.04-.35%

<=.10%

Copper

.15-.4%

<=.10%

Iron

<=.7%

<=.35%

Magnesium

.8-1.2%

.45-.90%

Manganese

<=.15%

<=.10%

Silicon

.4-.8%

<=.2-.6%

Titanium

<=.15%

<=.10%

Zinc

<=.25%

<=.10%

As the table demonstrates, 6061, in its most common tempers, is significantly stronger than its near equivalent 6063 aluminum. Untempered naturally aged 6061 is roughly on par with heat-treated 6063 aluminum and actually exceeds 6063 T6 aluminum’s shear strength. With aluminum 6061’s strength significantly outclassing 6063, some may wonder why anyone would choose anything but 6061 aluminum vs. 6063. The answer lies in the two aluminum alloys’ composition.

Aluminum alloy 6063 is a more purely aluminum alloy with fewer additional metals added. While this reduces its strength and can make it less workable than 6061, it does enhance the aluminum’s appearance, making it more amenable to aesthetic coating processes like anodizing.

 

Working With Aluminum 6061 vs. 6063

Aluminum 6061 is the most widely used aluminum alloy. It is certainly the aluminum alloy with the widest range of applications in the industry. It is a good general-purpose aluminum, and the 6061 T6 comes with an extra margin of strength built in. Because of its strength, it’s used for everything from ambulance chassis to yacht hulls. Any fabricators or machinists that commonly work with aluminum will need a supply of 6061 around for general projects or to use around the shop. The same isn’t true of 6063, which sees its widest use in prefab architectural trim where strength is often secondary to appearances.

It is a common saying that when it comes to aluminum 6061 vs. 6063, aluminum 6061 is a structural metal, while 6063 is an architectural metal. Aluminum 6063 does have a great deal of strength. It can be used to make a great-looking and impact-resistant window frame that will keep a house intact through a hurricane. It isn’t a metal that can be used to build a bridge or other structure that can survive that same storm, while 6061 aluminum is.

If you’re still wondering about the most popular aluminum alloys in 6061 vs. 6063, it’s important to know that Industrial Metal Service specializes in providing process-ready, cut-to-order aluminum 6061 to machine shops and fabricators nationwide. Contact us to secure 6061 aluminum cut-to-size for complex shapes at a fair price wherever you are in the continental United States.

Published by 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.