Why Use 6061-T6 Aluminum To Make Scaffolds?

There are many kinds of aluminum alloys, why do we choose 6061-T6 aluminum to produce our aluminum scaffolding? What are the characteristics that make it the most popular material?

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Aluminium 6061-T6 is a subcategory of the 6061 aluminum alloy, one of the most widely used aluminum alloy categories in the world. The alloy is appreciated because of its versatile performance and comprehensive mechanical properties. It is often chosen for structural applications, welded assemblies, electronics, and a variety of industrial and household items.

mobile aluminum scaffold
Welded aluminum scaffold frames made of 6061-T6 aluminum alloy profiles

The “T6” part of the 6061-T6 name indicates the type of tempering treatment process that this aluminum alloy type undergoes. 6061 aluminum tubes (or bars and plates) offer high to medium strength, excellent corrosion resistance, and excellent machinability and weldability. 6061 aluminum offers greater strength over other alloys in the 6xxx series, which is why it’s chosen for applications that require tough, yet light materials.

What is Tempering?

To understand what makes T6 special, it’s important to understand what tempering is and how it leads to each alloy’s tempers. Tempering is a treatment process applied to aluminum that has already been strengthened by heat treatment and that may have been hardened. It improves the workability and ductility of the material by relieving stresses that may have accumulated during the hardening process. Tempering helps create the desired features, such as manufacturability and durability, that are required for the final application.

Aluminum heat treating

There are five main types of aluminum tempering designations:

  1. T: Thermally treated. Applies to heat-treatable alloys that have been aged following a solution heat treatment.
  2. H: Strain hardened. Suitable for non-heat-treatable alloys that have been strain hardened for strength.
  3. O: Annealed. Annealing maximizes workability and toughness in the alloy’s lowest strength condition.
  4. F: As fabricated. Most F-temper products are “semi-finished” products. They will be used in shaping, finishing, or thermal processes to achieve other finished forms or tempers.
  5. W: Solution heat treated. This temper applies only to alloys that age naturally and spontaneously after solution heat treatment.

What is a T6 Temper?

All T tempers are thermally treated. The number after the T indicates how the material was treated. The T type has 10 different variants, each designated by a number (1-10). The number designations (T1-T10) represent the manner in which the material was heat treated, cold worked and aged to reach a stable condition.

How is the Yield Strength of 6061 Aluminum Improved by a T6 Temper?

By applying the T6 temper to 6061 aluminum, the typical yield strength nearly quadruples, from 8 ksi to about 35 ksi (ksi is a unit of stress).

Alloy Composition (% weight)

Aluminum (Al)95.9 to 98.6
Magnesium (Mg) 0.8 to 1.2
Silicon (Si)0.4 to 0.8
Iron (Fe)0 to 0.7
Copper (Cu)0.15 to 0.4
Chromium (Cr)0.04 to 0.35
Zinc (Zn)0 to 0.25
Manganese (Mn)0 to 0.15
Titanium (Ti)0 to 0.15
Residuals0 to 0.15

What Are Some Common Applications for 6061-T6?

6061-T6 is a very popular material for good reason. It does well in applications that require strength and toughness – these characteristics allow it to shine in structural products and other products that require durability.

6061-T6 appears in watercraft frequently because it offers corrosion resistance, and it can be treated with a protective coating to improve its corrosion resistance even more. Aluminum scaffolds also benefit from 6061-T6 because it’s very strong and lightweight, yet durable and non-corrosive characteristics.

At Solid Scaffold, we’ve developed a range of products designed for both home and professional use – you can browse our scaffold towers here, or give us a call on +86-0662-3308161 or send a message to our email solid@solidscaffold.com if you have any further questions or queries. We are here to help!

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