Being the most abundant naturally occurring element in the Earth’s crust, aluminum is a precious resource and valuable asset for many companies. Its metallic form, known as aluminum alloy, has several different varieties like 3003 aluminum. With each type of metallic aluminum having its own set of material properties, it makes all of them suitable for a wide range of applications.
The alloying process introduces other metallic elements such as copper, magnesium, and zinc to a base metal like aluminum – significantly improving the material properties of the base metal.
Due to the resulting aluminum alloy types being so many, the Aluminum Association has established a four-digit naming convention to distinguish them from one another. The classification is according to the combined metals’ general qualities and alloying elements.
In this article, you’ll learn everything about 3003 aluminum – one of the most commonly available and used varieties of aluminum alloy.
Before delving deeper into the mechanical properties and various applications of this alloy that’s part of the 3xxx series, you should first understand its physical characteristics.
Widely distributed and regarded as one of the best all-around thin steel sheet metals, type 3003 uses manganese as the primary element for the alloying process. Basically, it’s an industrially pure aluminum that manganese has been added to.
This manganese alloy, belonging to the common alloy group, has an increased strength of approximately 20 percent compared to 1100 grade aluminum. It has all of the great qualities of 1100 but with more stability.
3003 responds well to organic and mechanical finishings, but you might see slight discolorations if you anodize this alloy. It can be readily brazed and welded, but you will need to use the torch method if you need to solder it.
Apart from being easily welded and brazed, type 3003 can also be deep drawn or spun. However, it cannot be heat treated even though it has fantastic workability, moderate strength, and corrosion resistance. As such, you can roll and extrude this wrought alloy, but you can’t use it in casting and forging.
While this general-purpose aluminum-manganese alloy can’t be heat treated, cold working can yield tempers with greater strength but reduced ductility. Use maximum speeds and the correct set-up for 3003 alloys to perform well in high temperatures. Otherwise, it can become gummy like 1100 when machined.
Typically cut from metal sheets, 3003 alloys are often exposed to shearing stresses. To understand and visualize this type of stress caused by reactionary forces along a line, you can picture it as similar to a pair of scissors cutting along a piece of paper.
Cutting metal sheets works almost the same way as scissors do, but aluminum and heavy machinery are involved this time.
The shear strength – which is how resistant the metal is to shear stresses – of 3003 alloy is 16,000 psi or 110 MPa. This number indicates that it can be relatively easy to cut the aluminum into whatever desired shape. It’s crucial for alloy types like 3003, as they are often used as thin sheet metals.
Typical Uses and Applications
As previously stated, 3003 alloy is a widely used type of alloy primarily due to its excellent workability, good mechanical strength, and decent corrosion resistance. Since it does an excellent job in so many applications, it can be challenging to list all the processes which use 3003 aluminum.
Typically, 3003 is often used in applications like roofing and siding, which require thin aluminum strips or stainless steel materials. It’s also commonly used in producing downspouts and gutters, as well as in other applications, including the following:
- Lawn furniture parts
- Home appliance components
- Chemical and food handling equipment
- Panels for refrigerators
- Carport doors
- Gas pipelines
- Slats for awnings
- Ice cube trays
- Hardware for contractors and builders
- Utensils for cooking
- Cupboards and kitchen cabinets
Other common uses and applications for this aluminum alloy include fuel tanks, chemical apparatus, construction hardware, sheet metal inventory, pressure vessels, pipe jacketing, and heat exchangers.
Use the Right Thin Sheet Metal for Your Production
This article provided a high-level overview of the physical and mechanical properties and the various applications of the alloy. 3003 aluminum is suitable for use in a wide range of processes due to its weldability and formability. Thin metal strips like this aluminum alloy are corrosion-resistant and extremely durable, making it a common choice for manufacturers from various industries.