Aluminium is one of the most commonly used metals in the aerospace industry, due to its lightweight finish, strength, and resistance to corrosion. In comparison to steel, aluminium is a lightweight metal that holds enough strength for many aerospace applications. Having been used for many years, aluminium has always been widely used for aircraft manufacturing and has also become ideal for lower-cost solutions whilst still upholding industry specifications.
Aluminium in aircraft
The bulk of the airframe of modern aircraft is constructed from aluminium mainly due to weight. For example, aluminium is the desired material option for the wings, fuselage and supporting structures of military cargo aircraft and commercial planes. Aluminium casting technology is also a major focus, with this technology having the ability to create complex shapes and innovative designs.
Aluminium in spacecraft
Since the original aircraft was released into space, aluminium has played a major role in space structures. Due to its lightweight construction and ability to manage power loads and stress, it can manage pressure during the launch and operation. Aluminium alloys also perform better in terms of dampness, weight minimisation, thermal management and mechanics.
Benefits of using aluminium for aerospace construction
- Highly formable
- Easy fabrication
- High electrical conductivity
- Corrosion resistant
- Malleable and adaptable
How aluminium is used in aerospace
Here is a breakdown of the different ways aluminium can be and is used in the aerospace industry. The types of aluminium products used in aerospace include plates, sheets, and bars, pipes, tubes, and other shapes. The versatility of aluminium alloys in the aerospace industry allows for less costly answers and more reliable, sturdy aircraft.
Aircraft frames: alloys are used to build the frames of most commercial and military aircraft as these offer a lightweight, yet strong enough solution.
Engine parts: many engine components are made of aluminium alloys, mainly because they are able to withstand high temperatures.
Landing gear: the landing gear is typically made using the same alloys. These alloys are strong, lightweight and are the desired weight suitable for both takeoff and landing.
Fuselage skins: the external skin of an aircraft is commonly made of aluminium sheets as it is easy to assemble into complex shapes and provides protection against the elements.
Wing skins: the wings of an aircraft are also typically made of aluminium sheets as they are adaptable in terms of shape and provide the necessary strength and stiffness to support the weight of the object.
Aluminium grades for aerospace
- Alloy 2014 – a valuable alloy choice for framework due to its strength and machinability but does not provide the level of corrosion resistance other aluminium grades do.
- Alloy 2024 – 2024 Aluminum alloy is used extensively for aerospace and aircraft components and possesses high tensile strength, is treatable and is stress resistant.
- Alloy 3003 – this type of alloy maintains sound weldability and corrosion resistance but is not heat-treatable.
- Alloy 5052 – 5052 has a high fatigue strength compared to other aluminium alloys and is used commonly for fuel tanks in aircraft.
- Alloy 6061 – 6061 may be welded and brazed, equipped with superb corrosion resistance it is commonly used in the fuselage and wings.
- Alloy 6063 – This alloy is an excellent choice for architecture and aesthetics. High corrosion resistance and high tensile properties are some of the key features of this alloy.
- Alloy 7050 – 7050 is an excellent option for military aircraft and wing skins. This alloy may be reheated and is suitable for military aircraft and wings.
- Alloy 7068 – Used extensively for aircraft applications, 7068 alloy is one of the strongest available aluminium alloys for aerospace solutions. It retains a high level of strength and corrosion resistance.
- Alloy 7075 – Aluminum alloy 7075 has average corrosion resistance and heightened fatigue resistance. It compares to the strength of steel due to the high level of zinc.
Aluminium bending services across the UK
ABS are the UK’s leading company in aluminium extrusion bending. With years of experience, we’re round to be a part of British manufacturing history.
With this comes the quality of an ISO 9001 Certificate so that you can be sure we’re able to offer precision manufacturing all of the time.
Whether you need something for an exterior project or bespoke aluminium furniture for inside, call us today on 01623 272464 for a free quote ABS Ltd.