While all types of aluminum are important for their strength to weight ratio, their corrosion resistance, and their overall properties, specific alloys have been developed specifically for particular uses. This is certainly true with 6061 aluminum plate, bar and rod which is considered a top option in a heat-treated aluminum product.
The original name of 6061 aluminum plate, and all other 6061 aluminum options, was Alloy 61s. It was originally developed in 1935 and followed the development of Alloy 51s in 1921, which was also a combination of silicon, magnesium and aluminum to provide optimal heat-treated aluminum alloys to the market. It was then followed by Alloy 62s, now 6062, which had less chromium for a smoother, smaller and finer grain size, important for specific types of applications.
The benefit of using 6061 aluminum plate, bar and rod over other alloys was primarily the ease of welding and anodizing with the higher level of corrosion resistance. Historically and today it is ideal for many different types of extrusion, forging as well as rolling, and it is not a difficult alloy to work with or produce.
Although the processes may be enhanced and a much greater emphasis on technology in the production of 6061 aluminum plate, bar, rod and extrusions, the uses of 6061 haven’t changed all that much over time.
You will find 6061 aluminum plate used in marine construction where the corrosion resistance, including to salt water, makes it a very good choice. It is also used as structural sheeting for the same reason. As a wrought alloy, it can be easily shaped to curve or create just the structural components needed so is often used in specialized applications in construction as well as fabrication and manufacturing.
A large number of modern aircraft are constructed using 6061 aluminum plate, as are components on many of the vehicles on the road today. It is also used in motorcycles and racing cars due to its strength, light weight and high resistance to stress-corrosion cracking.
With different tempers of this 6061 aluminum plate there are also specialized uses. One of the most famous uses of this plate was in the manufacturing of the Pioneer plaques, which were gold anodized and placed on the Pioneer spacecraft as a message to any possible lifeforms in space that may have made contact after the 1972 and 1973 launches.
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