During the metal machining process, it’s important to work with metals that have high dimensional stability and can hold precise tolerances. Ideal tool plates have controlled thickness and flatness to best serve as a base for machining tools. Moreover, the tool plate must assure accuracy within wide temperature ranges.
In this regard, cast aluminum, such as Alca 5 aluminum plate, is ideal for use as opposed to wrought iron. A horizontal continuous casting process gives cast aluminum a fine granular structure. Alca 5, produced by PCP, is a cast aluminum with magnesium as its core alloying element that offers more favorable properties than its zinc-rich alternative—MIC-6.
Material Properties of Alca 5
The table below compares some of the most important properties of Alca 5:
|Alca 5 Properties|
|Surface finish||20 RMS or better|
|Corrosion resistance||Inland: excellent, Marine: good|
|Anodizing properties||Excellent, not decorative|
|Flatness deviation||1/4″ – 1/2″ within .015”|
|Elongation at break||16 %|
|Typical tensile||283 MPa|
Manufactured using the proprietary stress-relieved process of AA5083 aluminum, Alca 5 aluminum plate offers exceptional dimensional stability that provides cost savings on extra work such as rough-milling, finishing, or re-works. Alca 5 does not wrap over during this process and continues to retain its dimension throughout its service life—ideal properties of jigs and molds. Alca 5 jigs are reliable when it comes to repeatedly adding stability to other tools in the manufacturing process. Similarly, Alca 5 molds are dimensionally stable and predictable for churning out parts with low tolerances at a higher rate as the temperature fluctuates.
Alca 5 has excellent machinability, thanks to its stability over a wide range of temperatures. It’s manufactured using the vertical direct chill (VDC) billet process and has a porosity-free billet. However, for obtaining a smooth surface, it’s important to maintain a high cutting speed and utilize sintered carbide cutting tools during the process.
Alca 5 offers exceptional corrosion resistance under inland atmospheres, and the presence of magnesium makes it highly sought-after for marine applications as well. However, excess magnesium content makes it susceptible to stress corrosion cracking; therefore, you can not use it above 149 °F.
Alca 5 is a derivative of 5083 aluminum that has a low density of 2.66 g/cm³, less than even MIC-6. The low weight helps fabricators retain dimensional stability during operation and makes it highly desirable for manufacturing parts for robotic assembly lines where extremely well-coordinated movements matter.
Alca 5 has very good weldability for both WIG/MIG and resistance welding. However, prolonged exposure to temperatures above 158 °F can cause intercrystalline corrosion.
Typical Applications of Alca 5 Aluminum Plates
Alca 5 is used in various industries such as automation, robotics, packaging, custom machinery applications, mold applications, and more. Machinists prefer Alca 5 over MIC-6 when applications require a lightweight material under high-stress conditions.
Some typical applications of Alca 5 include but are not limited to:
- Precision applications
- Side and base plates
- Index tables
- Jigs and fixtures
- Machine parts and mounting
- Construction equipment
Popular Alca 5 Aluminum Plate Alternatives
The core element of Alca 5 is magnesium; in this regard, its two most popular alternatives are ATP-5 from Vista Metals and K-100S from Alpase. Both are manufactured using the same casting process as Alca 5 to offer porosity-free billets. Thus, replacing Alca 5 with ATP-5 or K-100S will not hamper the end performance.
Alternatively, fabricators also prefer MIC-6, which is a 7000-series aluminum alloy. In terms of surface finish, surface condition, and flatness deviation, both MIC-6 and Alca 5 alloys are equal. However, MIC-6 is a little denser and less tensile than Alca 5. Moreover, MIC-6 is costly. That’s why small machine shops find these alternatives to MIC-6 very helpful in optimizing project costs.
Fabricators and small machine shops can recognize even more cost savings by utilizing recycled usable remnants of these alloys instead of purchasing them directly from the mill. It’s a common strategy that many hobbyists and smaller machine shops follow to bring down fabrication costs without compromising quality.
Precision Aluminum Tooling Plates From a Trusted Metal Supplier
Industrial Metal Service has been supplying new and remnant metals, including Alca 5 aluminum plates, to hobbyists and fabricators in the San Francisco Bay Area and nationwide for more than two decades. We can meet your on-demand requirements for tooling plates, including MIC-6 and 6061 aluminum, on short notice. We can also help you meet your precise dimension requirements without compromising tolerances with our state-of-the-art aluminum cutting setup.