Things You Need to Know About Aluminum Sheet

Since its industrialization in the early 1900s, Aluminum has become one of the most commonly used metals in various industries. Its lightweight and relatively high strength make it perfect for numerous applications.

In this article, we’ll explore some common uses for Aluminum sheets, the different types, and why it’s used over other materials.


What is an Aluminum Sheet?

After the material is refined and alloyed with other elements, sheet Aluminum is made through a process involving the rolling and flattening of cast ingots. The process is tightly controlled and produces consistent thicknesses.

The thicknesses available range from 0.020” up to 0.19”, and in a multitude of different grades and tempers. Different thicknesses are preferred for different applications.

The temper of the Aluminum sheet is the state of heat treatment it is currently in. This affects the strength and workability of the material. Not all Aluminum grades can be heat-treated.

Why use an Aluminum Sheet?

After steel and its variations, Aluminum is the most commonly found metal in the industry. It has multiple beneficial properties when compared to steel or stainless steel, these include:

  • Lightness
  • Relative Strength
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Low cost

Below we’ve answered some questions you may have about Aluminum:

Is Aluminum lighter than Steel?

At around one-third of the weight of steel, Aluminum can be used to produce structures and components that are much cheaper to transport, better to use, or safer to lift when compared to steel or stainless steel.

In terms easier to visualize, an 8’ x 4’ sheet of Aluminum 6061 in 1/8th” weighs 25kg, a sheet of steel of the same dimensions weighs over 70kg.

How strong is Aluminum?

Despite its low density, Aluminum is incredibly strong, and can be stronger than steel and stainless steel per pound.

If a beam constructed of steel was replaced by one from 6061 Aluminum, it could be half as heavy whilst still able to support the same load. Many safety-critical components for aircraft, cars, motorbikes and bicycles are made from Aluminum.

Does Aluminum rust?

Another big benefit of Aluminum is that it does not rust in the same way Steel does, this is due to the lack of Iron in Aluminum alloy. Aluminum does oxidize however, but only in specific circumstances and does not cause the same structural issues as with steel.

Because Aluminum does not rust, there are large savings available in not having to paint or finish the parts to prevent corrosion. This also means parts can last longer without the need for repainting or replacement due to corrosion.

How expensive is an Aluminum sheet?

Aluminum is more expensive than steel, but generally slightly cheaper than stainless steel. However, as we just discussed, the end product costs of Aluminum can match steel components because they don’t need finishing to be protected from the elements.

Here at Metals Supermarkets, we stock multiple grades of Aluminum sheets, all at very reasonable prices. Check out our Aluminum grades and stock here for exact pricing and availability or visit your closest store.

Is Aluminum easy to weld?

The workability of Aluminum is one of its greatest strengths, thanks to the wide variety of grades and heat treatment processes, there is almost no process that cannot be adapted to work efficiently with Aluminum sheets.

Alongside great weldability, Aluminum can be bent, machined, forged, rolled and laser cut with great success, as long as the grade is specified correctly.

What are the common types of Aluminum sheet?

Like all metal alloys, Aluminum comes in a multitude of grades, each with slightly different alloying compositions and therefore differing mechanical properties. The main types of Aluminum are listed below, Metal Supermarkets can supply all of these grades.

  • Aluminum 1100: Comprising 99% or above pure Aluminum, Its high malleability means it’s great for forming and bending, but should not be used in strength or pressure applications.
  • Aluminum 2024: A high-strength heat-treatable grade, 2024 is used for aircraft fittings, structural components and other transportation equipment.
  • Aluminum 3003: Heavily alloyed with manganese for strength and workability, the 3000 series is considered a general purpose Aluminum grade. Often used for process vessels, pipework and chemical tanks.
  • Aluminum 5052: This grade has a high salt water corrosion resistance, as well as being inherently anti-slip and anti-static. It is often used for small boats, fences, etc.
  • Aluminum 6061: 6061 alloy contains large amounts of magnesium and silicone, it is often used in extruded or forged products. Commonly used on flooring, load-bearing ramps, trusses, etc.
  • Aluminum 7075: A highly engineered ultra-high strength alloy, 7075 is used in critical aerospace, automotive and defense applications.

Common uses of Aluminum sheet:

Once you start to look for it, it’s easy to find Aluminum sheet materials in almost any environment, from consumer electronics and packaging to aerospace components.

  • Automotive components – many vehicles and trucks use Aluminum body panels for lightness, ease of manufacture and corrosion resistance.
  • Consumer goods – Something that you may well use every day, Aluminum beverage cans, are made by stamping and forming processes that start with large sheets of Aluminum.
  • Construction and heavy industry – in situations that require a material that is relatively cheap, does not require finishing to look and remain presentable, and can help to reduce overall weight, Aluminum is used. This ranges from bracketry on construction vehicles, control panels or covers on machinery and more.
  • Roofing materials. Aluminum is used for various purposes in roofing and cladding, from a single covering material, to being used as a backing or sandwich material for insulated sheets. Its lightness makes both installation and transport easier, as well as truss loads lower.
  • Heat exchangers. Aluminum’s excellent thermal conductivity means it’s perfect for use in heat-exchanging devices.

Metal Supermarkets

Metal Supermarkets is the world’s largest small-quantity metal supplier with over 100 brick-and-mortar stores across the US, Canada, and United Kingdom. We are metal experts and have been providing quality customer service and products since 1985.

At Metal Supermarkets, we supply a wide range of metals for a variety of applications. Our stock includes: mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum, tool steel, alloy steel, brass, bronze and copper.

We stock a wide range of shapes including: bars, tubes, sheets, plates and more. And we can cut metal to your exact specifications.

Visit one of our 100+ locations across North America today.

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