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Aluminum 5052, 6061, 3003: What’s the Difference?


If you’ve worked in the metal fabrication industry for any time at all, then you know there are multiple kinds of aluminum, steel and even stainless steel. Trying to figure out the difference between aluminum 5052 and aluminum 3003 can be as confusing as telling two zebras apart. Learn about the differences between different types of aluminum, and never wonder again!

Aluminum 5052. 5052 should be considered The Hulk of alloys. It’s one of the most durable aluminums and is particularly good at resisting degradation and corrosion. 5052 is relatively cost efficient and holds up well during machining work. The downside? If you bend 5052 past a 90˚ degree angle  it can easily crack or damage a project’s corners.

Aluminum 6061. Ever wondered what most building skeleton’s are composed of? Chances are good it’s 6061. This is the most frequently used structural alloy and is great for framing and welding. Unfortunately, this type of alloy isn’t as malleable as others so if you aren’t careful it can crack during forming. It’s also more costly than 5052, so make sure you know what you’re doing before getting started!

Aluminum 3003. At the commercial level, 3003 is the equivalent of a famous celebrity. Aluminum 3003 is combined with a small amount of manganese, making it stronger than other similar alloys. Like 5052, it’s great at combating corrosion and is easy to work with. The downside? 3003 isn’t quite up to par when it comes to anodizing processes.

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