Aluminum is one of the favorite materials for aerospace designs. This is due, among other things, to its light weight and high strength-to-weight ratio.
Other advantages offered by aluminum as an aerospace material compared to other materials used in aeronautical applications such as steel are:
High durability, including in environments subjected to high stresses or extreme pressure and temperature conditions.
Greater resistance to corrosion.
Excellent formability, allowing easy fabrication of small parts.
Aluminum alloying as an aerospace material
In addition, it can be alloyed with many other elements, such as titanium, magnesium, silicon or copper. As a result of the study of the effects of processing and heat treatments, aluminum alloys have undergone substantial improvements since they were introduced as an aerospace material in the 1920s. It should be noted that the elements and the concentration in which they are found play an important role in the characteristics of the alloy, for example:
- Chromium (Cr): is commonly added to many alloys of the aluminum-magnesium, aluminum-magnesium-silicon and aluminum-magnesium-zinc groups, in amounts not exceeding 0.35% by weight. If this limit is exceeded, chromium tends to form very coarse components with other impurities, such as manganese or titanium. Chromium has a low diffusion coefficient and forms a fine dispersed phase in forging products that inhibits nucleation and grain growth.
- Copper (Cu): Aluminum-copper alloys contain 2 to 10% by weight of copper and, in many cases, other elements. When hardened and matured, they have a strength comparable to that of steel. They also have high fracture toughness and better fatigue strength than other aluminum alloys.
- Silicon (Si) and magnesium (Mg): In wrought alloys (6XXX series), silicon is used with magnesium at levels of up to 1.5% by weight. It has inferior mechanical properties compared to other alloy series but has good weldability, good corrosion resistance and very good resistance to stress corrosion cracking. It is widely used in extruded products, and is capable of responding to heat treatment, due to the generation of the intermetallic compound MgSi2.
- Titanium (Ti): It is mainly used as a grain refiner in aluminum casting alloys. When used alone, the effect of titanium decreases with the time it is held in the molten state and with repeated remelting. To enhance the grain refinement effect, boron (B) can be added.
MyM, specialists in aluminum alloys
At MyM Group we are specialists in the manufacture of metallic elements made of aluminum alloys for aerospace use, as well as in the application of surface and heat treatments. In addition, we have several lines of RD in which this material is the main protagonist, such as, for example, the industrial thesis “Prediction of geometric distortions in aluminum alloy parts plastically formed in states of unstable maturation” that is currently being developed by Fernando Pascual Goce, head of the Metal Forming area of MyM.
Prasad, N. E., Gokhale, A. A. and Wanhill, R.J.H. (2017). Aluminium Alloys for Aerospace Applications.
Prasad, N. E., Wanhill, R.J.H. (Ed.), Aerospace Materials and Material Technologies (29-53). Indian Institute of Metals Series.
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