A Comprehensive Guide to 6061 Aluminum Alloy

Aluminum alloys have a wide range of uses and are widely available, making them popular in most industrial processes. 6061 aluminum is one of the alloys with improved material properties. As businesses strive for precision engineering without compromising financial prudence, 6061 aluminum is emerging as a cornerstone material. Enze Machinery in China provides expert CNC machining services that complement this material perfectly.

A Comprehensive Guide to 6061 Aluminum Alloy

What is 6061 Aluminum?

6061 aluminum is one of the most commonly extruded alloys. It has a long history dating back to 1935 when it was initially known as “Alloy 61s.” This type of aluminum alloy is known for its excellent machinability, balance of strength and weight, and corrosion resistance. It is made of aluminum, magnesium, and silicon, making it easy to weld. Due to these desirable properties and cost-effectiveness, it is widely used in various applications.

What is 6061 Aluminum

Physical Properties of 6061 Aluminum

Type 6061 aluminum belongs to the 6xxx aluminum alloys, which contain magnesium and silicon as their primary alloying elements. The second digit of the aluminum alloy type indicates the base metal’s impurity control level. When this double-digit is “0,” it means that the bulk of the alloy is made up of commercial aluminum and that no particular care is required to control impurities. The third and fourth digits in a metal alloy’s code are used as identifiers for the specific alloy composition. However, this is different with 1xxx aluminum alloys. The nominal composition of type 6061 aluminum consists of 97.9% aluminum. The density of 6061 al alloy is 2.7 g/cm3 (0.0975 lb/in3). Type 6061 aluminum alloy is heat-treatable, easily formed and welded, and highly corrosion-resistant.

AlloyChemical Composition wt. % (Al, Balance)

Mechanical Properties of 6061 Aluminum

The mechanical characteristics of 6061 aluminum alloy vary depending on the heat treatment process applied. 6061-T6 is commonly used due to its high stiffness, easy formability, and ability to resist deformation. The following values measure the alloy’s ability to resist deformation, shearing, and breaking under cyclical loading.

Mechanical Properties             Metric       Imperial
Yield strength276 MPa  40000 psi
Tensile strength310 MPa  45000 psi
Shear strength207 MPa  30000 psi
Elastic modulus68.9 GPa  10000 ksi
Fatigue strength96.5 MPa  14000 psi
Poisson’s ratio0.330.33
Hardness, Brinell9595
Elongation12-17% 12-17%

Corrosion Resistance of 6061 Aluminum

6061 aluminum alloy forms a nonreactive oxide layer when exposed to air or water, making it resistant to corrosion in atmospheric or aqueous conditions. It’s less corrosion-resistant than other alloys due to the presence of copper. Corrosive effects may occur in alkaline soil, depending on soil conditions. It’s highly resistant to concentrated nitric acid, ammonia, and hydroxide. Coating the alloy with a protective layer eliminates corrosive effects.

Corrosion Resistance of 6061 Aluminum

The polarization curves for an aluminum alloy and a steel bar in a chloride solution

Operating Temperature Range for 6061 Aluminum

6061 aluminum can be processed within a specific temperature range. This range includes hot working temperatures of 260–372 °C, annealing temperatures of 413 °C for 2–3 hours, and aging temperatures of 160 °C for 8 hours. During annealing, the metal should be cooled gradually at 10 °C per hour until it reaches 260 °C. After aging, the metal should be cooled in the air.

Linear Expansion of AL 6061-T6 from 0K to 300K

The Advantages of 6061 Aluminum


Because 6061 aluminum is used frequently, and the machines that make pieces from it are highly efficient, this alloy is very cost-effective compared to other materials. Companies looking to streamline manufacturing while maintaining quality can choose this option. 

Precision Machining with CNC 6061 Aluminum

One of the remarkable characteristics of aluminum with CNC 6061 is its ability to be precisely machined. This material can be quickly processed using Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining techniques, including milling and turning. These methods allow manufacturers to create intricate designs and maintain tight tolerances, making it an ideal choice for industries requiring high precision, such as aerospace, automotive, and chemical industries.

Weight-to-Strength Ratio

6061 aluminum is preferred in weight-critical industries like aerospace and automotive due to its impressive strength-to-weight ratio. It allows for strong components without unnecessary heft, enhancing product performance, fuel efficiency, and cost savings.

High Corrosion Resistance 

The 6061 aluminum alloy contains silicon and magnesium, making it more durable and rust-resistant than other aluminum alloys. It makes it perfect for indoor and outdoor usage, even in unfavorable weather conditions. It is a highly recommended material for water cooling systems and underwater welding due to its exceptional corrosion resistance. If your product is often exposed to moisture, humidity, or saltwater, 6061 aluminum is an excellent choice, as it doesn’t corrode any faster than other types of aluminum.

Recyclable and Sustainable

Aluminum is a material that aligns with the growing emphasis on sustainability in manufacturing. It requires only a fraction of the energy and is fully recyclable. It makes it an eco-friendly choice, appealing to environmentally-conscious businesses and consumers. 6061 aluminum is a great choice, considering the immediate benefits and eco-friendliness.

The Advantages of 6061 Aluminum

Applications of Aluminum 6061

6061 alloy is a popular choice for various applications such as:

– Aircraft construction, particularly for self-made aircraft wings and fuselage. While 2024 alloy is slightly stronger, 6061 is easier to process and offers good corrosion resistance even with surface wear. 2024 is often used with thin Alclad coatings to achieve corrosion resistance.

– Yacht construction, including small workboats.

– Automotive aluminum components like the chassis of Audi A8 and Plymouth Wanderer.

– Flashlights.

– Aluminum cans used for packaging food and beverages.

– High-pressure gas storage cylinders, including diving gas cylinders.

6061-T6 is specifically used for:

– Bicycle frames and components.

– Mid to high-end reverse bows.

– Many fly fishing reels.

Applications of Aluminum 6061


What is 6061 T6 Aluminum?

When aluminum is in the annealed (O) condition, it can be made stronger and more durable by applying a T6 temper. To create 6061 T6 aluminum, a 6061-O aluminum billet is heated to a temperature of more than 900˚ F, then rapidly cooled by water quenching. After that, it is aged for several hours at a lower temperature. This process is the basis of the artificial aging distinction that characterizes T6.

Which type of aluminum is superior – 6061 or 7075?

To determine the right aluminum alloy for your project, it’s essential to consider your priorities.Aluminium al 6061 is more affordable, has medium strength, and is easy to work with. 7075 Aluminum is stronger and yields smoother finishes but costs more. Most suppliers prefer 6061 aluminum due to its lower cost. However, if your project needs 7075 aluminum properties, it should be considered to achieve the desired result.

Can material 6061 T6 be machined?

Yes, T6 tempering improves the machinability of 6061 aluminum from a D rating (poor) to a C rating (fair).

Is 6061 aluminum alloy suitable for welding?

6061 aluminum can be welded, but using the appropriate filler material is essential to avoid solidification cracking, a common welding issue associated with 6061 aluminum. The most suitable filler materials to use are 4043 or 5356 aluminum alloy. It’s important to note that using 6061 filler material to weld 6061 aluminum alloy can lead to cracking, so it should be avoided to achieve the best results.


The article is about 6061 aluminum alloy. It explains what it is, discusses its properties, and how it’s used in manufacturing. If you want to learn more about 6061 aluminum alloy, you can contact us. We offer various manufacturing capabilities and value-added services to meet your prototyping and production needs. You can visit our website or request a free, no-obligation quote.