It is estimated that 56,000+ bridges are structurally deficient in America with an estimated $123 billion in rehab needed. The solution? The 6xxx Series Aluminum Alloys. Not only can they be used for emergency repairs but they can provide a long-term solution to this infrastructure problem with minimal maintenance required.Let us review what sets this alloy apart, its advantages, and the types of projects the alloy is best suited for.
What is an aluminum alloy?
Aluminum alloys are created by taking aluminum and adding elements, creating chemical compositions with enhanced properties. Once created, these compositions receive a 4-digit number with the first digit signifying a general series that characterizes its main alloying elements.
What does it mean when an alloy is a part of the 6xxx series
The main agents in the 6xxx series are silicon and magnesium in order to form magnesium silicide within the alloy. Alloy 6061 is the most commonly used of the series, typically used in truck and marine frames.
What are the advantages of the 6xxx aluminum alloys?
High Corrosion Resistance – 6xxx series aluminums can withstand abrasion, keeping their strength and durability in a variety of environments. This is one of the appeals to using it in infrastructure and architectural projects that hope to create structures with the intent of lasting decades. Whether its receiving harsh sunlight in the Nevada desert or nearly year round rain in Seattle, the alloy is able to hold up.
Extrudablitity – A unique feature of the 6xxx series is its extrudability. The ability to make specific, extruded parts from the alloy is another factor in why architectural and infrastructure members use this alloy. They typically require unusual, high-strength components and the power of extruded of 6xxx series is its ‘place-metal-where-you-need-it’ flexibility.
Heat treatable, weldable, flexible – 6061 is a highly weldable alloy, using tungsten insert gas welding or metal inert gas welding. After welding, the properties near the weld are those of 6061-O (a loss of strength of around 80%). However, MIG and TIG welded material can be heat treated again to bring the material back to the pre-welding temper. Another option may be Friction Stir Welding (FSW). With FSW, the profiles are joined together through the use of a specialized rotary machine tool. Although the material is heated and joined together through friction, the overall heat applied to the material is much lower and of shorter duration than MIG or TIG welding and the heat affected zone is much less and retains most of the original strength.
What are the applications of the 6xxx Series Aluminum Alloys?
It is this combination of advantages that make 6xxx Series Aluminum Alloys prime candidates for architectural and infrastructure projects. Such projects include:
Bridges or aluminum bridge decking: Extruded aluminums can be used to build traditional bridges or bridge decks can be pre-built in a modular fashion and moved to bridge sites. This method can limit the amount of time that bridges are under construction and save money in the long run.
Roof Structures: Typically implemented for arenas and gymnasiums, the 6063 or 6061 extruded tubes are used in large scale roofs with 5xxx alloy sheets covering them.
Pipelines: Because of their high corrosion resistance the 6xxx series is great for pipeline systems that have possibly acidic or dangerous materials flowing through them.
Automotive: Whether for a car, motorcycle, bus, or train, the 6xxx series is often used in the automotive industry for its high dent resistance and durability.
Taber Extrusions recognizes the hard work and precise engineering required for large-scale infrastructure projects. Capable of producing very large aluminum shapes with our exclusive 10” x 28” rectangular container along with our 16” and 20” round containers, we canconsistentlysupply our customers with some of the widest, most complex multi-void hollows in the industry. Taber produces their 6xxx series alloys in-house, and our recent investments in our casting and fabrication capabilities have poised Taber to be a great fit for any of your architectural and infrastructure needs… and a reliable partner for all aspects of your project.
Although aluminum is now the most prevalent material in biking these days, up until the 1980’s, most mountain bike frames were made of steel.
Slowly, the market demand for lighter, stronger, and rust-resistant bike frames coupled with advances in aluminum metallurgy led some manufacturers to make the switch. Soon, most steel-frame bikes had aluminum parts in the form of brakes, derailleurs, stems, lightweight wheels, handlebars, and seat posts.
It wasn’t long before most bike manufacturers switched entirely to aluminum!
Although both steel and carbon fiber have come a long way , aluminum bikes remain an enthusiast favorite.
In the modern era, advancements in alloying technologies are bringing aluminum bikes to new heights by amplifying their properties.
Aluminum is the most widely available lightweight bike frame material. By comparison, steel bike frames have, on average, three times the weight of aluminum ones. Due to its naturally low weight, aluminum remains an ideal and affordable choice for racing and mountain bike frames.
Due to aluminum’s lower strength compared with steel, titanium, and carbon fiber, aluminum bike frame tubes often have thicker walls. Though this does not necessarily provide an advantage over other frame types, thicker-than-standard tubes can be used in aluminum bike frames without making them significantly heavier.
Carbon fiber, of course, has an edge on aluminum in terms of weight. But for a mountain biker, sometimes a little weight is a good thing.
Downhill racers often prefer aluminum over other materials. The additional weight and formability properties allow the rider to maintain the proper inertia to keep the bike steady and to maintain control at high speeds. Weighted aluminum frames make it easier to find the sweet spot.
Aluminum is a widely used material and is infinitely recyclable, so its price compared to other materials is very competitive.
Well-rounded, lightweight, and affordable, aluminum bike frames are the ideal choice for both beginner and expert-level mountain bikers.
Plus, aluminum is not prone to rust, unlike steel-framed bikes. This resistance makes aluminum a lasting and low-maintenance choice for mountain bikers and other riders who often expose their bikes to harsh elements.
For trail and downhill riders, the somewhat flexible, forgiving nature of alloyed frames help provide comfort during extremely bumpy terrain or at high speeds.
Alloys Used in Mountain Bikes:
2xxx series: 2xxx series alloys are not usually used for frames. They are easily welded and heat-treatable, but are more suitable for use in components such as bars, seatposts and stems – parts that usually have less butting. Alloy types you will likely encounter are 2011, 2014 and 2024.
6xxx series: 6xxx series alloys are intermediate strength aluminum alloys. In general, they are weaker than either a 2xxx or 7xxx series alloy, but are more easily forged, machined, welded, and formed. You will find them usually in lower cost aluminum alloy frames. 6061, 6063 and 6082.
7xxx series: Most commonly found in the aerospace industry, 7xxx series aluminum alloys are an incredibly high strength alloy that exhibits great resistance to the outdoor elements. The most durable of all bike frames are made from this series’ alloys.
One of the biggest advantages that we have is the capability to produce very big aluminum shapes, which means less work for the end user and ultimately, a less expensive product for everybody. Compared to projects that use steel, the use of aluminum is light weight and leads to higher load capacities, it has a high strength-to-weight ratio, can be recycled, and you don’t have to worry about rust!
Gradually, the country is starting to begin a national conversation about renovating our infrastructure. Traditionally, aluminum extrusions for infrastructure projects have been reserved for small projects like light posts, road signage, and guard rails. But developments in aluminum alloy technology, along with the large shape capability at Taber, we now have extrusions far more suited for large scale infrastructure projects like bridges, high-speed railways, and platforms such as helipads, ramps, flooring, and decking.
Aluminum Extrusions for Infrastructure
The high strength, weldability, and flexibility of aluminum, (particularly 6xxx series aluminum alloys, which Taber supplies in-house with the latest casting technology), can be relied on for infrastructure and architecture projects. As an added bonus its natural light weight makes delivery and installation a much easier, and often less expensive, process.
Aluminum shapes created for infrastructure also have the benefit of being low maintenance, due to high corrosion resistance and immunity to UV rays.
Potential applications include:
Aerospace (Helipads, etc.)
High speed / magnetic railways
Cranes and other construction needs
In a global market that is only becoming more competitive, the United States will need to turn its eyes back on its infrastructure if it hopes to retain its place near the top of the food chain.
Full service suppliers for aluminum products like Taber Extrusions are here to help with your infrastructure or public works project. Contact us, and tell us your needs – and we can lay the groundwork together.