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AirCraft Aluminum?

Anyone who says "aircraft aluminum" probably doesn't know what they want. Similarly though: about five years ago, I was designing some parts and what I needed was "aluminum". What kind didn't really matter.

My employer had/has a long history of being one of those places that calls out the material down to the shape and size of the raw material, ASTM spec, blah, blah. The note I put on the drawing read something like this:

Commercially sourced, domestic wrought aluminum alloy specified as 2xxx, 5xxx, 6xxx, 7xxx series aluminum, in the heat treated condition T4 or above (T6, T651, etc.). No certifications required.

I got a minor bit of push back during design review. The shop kicked the package back because they refused to make the material call. I literally walked out and told them: "Do you have a piece of material on the rack? On the ground next to the bandsaw? Whatever, that's fine. We just need it made."

Sometimes it's just a piece of metal: a spacer, an installation tool, an alignment jig, etc. In this case they were support blocks and screw jack pads for alignment and installation of a piece of equipment. Yes, it was sculpted all pretty, with pockets all over it, a couple of female acme holes but, the material wasn't critical in any way. It just needed to spread out a load over some existing wiring and plumbing and any aluminum at all was plenty strong enough.

Has anyone seen an industry accepted call-out to accomplish this on a drawing?
Everything that is machined is 6061 Everything that is bent is 5052
Don't ask people to make decisions.
6061 is common and cheap
You work at a place that is known as fussy, your machine shop aint stupid
 
Everything that is machined is 6061 Everything that is bent is 5052
Don't ask people to make decisions.
6061 is common and cheap
You work at a place that is known as fussy, your machine shop aint stupid
I agree with you in spirit but, we had lots of 7050 scraps. They also had the random 2024 job that left sizeable rems on the shelf. I didn't want to exclude either.
 
How many aluminum alloys go into aircraft?

Probably ALL of them.

Yes return that print with a NO QUOTE! Ask for an actual alloy.
Like I said, the drawing was for an internal (within our small company) part. Not having much experience with the different aluminum alloys available, I wanted to be a bit more educated. I will look up "applications for aluminum" and see what alloy gets used in which situations, to be even more educated. I can't no-quote an internal part.
 
Has anyone seen an industry accepted call-out to accomplish this on a drawing?

I would put "MAKE FROM ANY AL" or "MAKE FROM ANY STAINLESS" on a drawing for some parts that were'nt structural or didn't require stress analysis.

As we only ever used 6061 and 7075 I knew it wasn't going to be inferior material, same with the Stainless, we only ever worked with 17-4/15-5 and 13-8 so again not inferior material. Also every piece that came thru the door had to have certs, even for tooling. On the travellor some machinist would record the cert no for a "MAKE FROM ANY XXX" part, some wouldn't
 
And even that was what they DIDN'T want Ries:unsure:
Yeah, but boy was it cheap. That suplus yard was about five acres, and it had everything. Full sheets of metals and plastics, tools, machines, and tooling, blades and bits, ladders, tables, vehicles, hunks of mysterious machined titanium. Its been closed for years, but I still use stuff from there every day.
 
I remember sitting in a hawker hunter in a scrap yard ( on a box the ejector seat was gone!) scrap yards were fun then, I think I would be wandering round weekly, fortunately the big guard dogs loved me, must have thought I was a chew toy by the way they used to lick me.
The owner said watch they don’t get a taste for you boy, or good job I fed them
Mark
 
I would put "MAKE FROM ANY AL" or "MAKE FROM ANY STAINLESS" on a drawing for some parts that were'nt structural or didn't require stress analysis.

As we only ever used 6061 and 7075 I knew it wasn't going to be inferior material, same with the Stainless, we only ever worked with 17-4/15-5 and 13-8 so again not inferior material. Also every piece that came thru the door had to have certs, even for tooling. On the travellor some machinist would record the cert no for a "MAKE FROM ANY XXX" part, some wouldn't
Problem with that is someone somewhere will pull the piece of aluminum that is holding up the end of the bench and it will be some obscure thing unsuitable for the purpose. Furthest I would probably go is '6061 or equivalent'.When someone has to ask a question, you have just cost more than buying the piece you need from McMaster and having it here tomorrow
 
Several years back I manufactured parts for the crane industry.
Material call outs were typically steel or aluminum or cast iron, followed by a min yield strength. It’s up to the Vender to know what materials are commonly used, available and cost effective. Most prints also required certification. If no certification is required it is unlikely critical in my estimation. I also feel if you do not deviate from the print you are protected from liability. File all prints instrucations and POs.
What was said about asking questions of a Buyer is unfortunately true. They will often move on to the next Vendor rather than chase down your question and more and more there is no one to ask that really knows. It will end up in Engineering where approval can become a big process to change the print or quiet whisper to the Buyer “just use someone else”
My last dozen years in Industry was managing several crafts while surviving store-rooms and Buyers.
 
When I run into situations like this, I find you have to be creative in how you ask. There are lots of specific industries where the materials used are assumed to be common knowledge ("aircraft aluminum," "Knife steel," "High strength steel," etc.) and that knowledge is common if you've been in that industry, but nonsense to the rest of us. Sometimes the customer is new to things themselves and doesn't know what they need, and other times they know but they're expecting you to know too. When in doubt, ask for sure, but I find it helps to try to connect your standardized industry knowledge with their specific industry knowledge. IOW don't tell them they don't know what they're talking about and don't act like you don't either. Maybe ask them if it's an old print or something because suppliers these days might use A B or C material, or ask specifics on what demands are on the material so that you can select the right material yourself.

I hate the excuse of "just make it to print." It's such a cop-out when things are done wrong that's no different than thinking "Is this vise trammed? Who cares!". You can't assume things and you can't let a lack of knowledge keep a job from getting done. If the Q&A side of things is too much of a hassle, there either needs to be a change in how information is shared, or the party's involved shouldn't work together, but IMO it's not worth gambling over.
 
I like tactical black-ops military-grade billet aluminum alloy unless I can get tactical black-ops military-grade billet titanium alloy.
Yes, the new Apple ads emphasize titanium trim. Would be cool if the phone chassis was made of titanium aluminum allow, like Thinkpads. Not sure if Ti is the optimal material for phone trim. Apparently it IS the optimal material for phone advertisements...
 
Yes, the new Apple ads emphasize titanium trim. Would be cool if the phone chassis was made of titanium aluminum allow, like Thinkpads. Not sure if Ti is the optimal material for phone trim. Apparently it IS the optimal material for phone advertisements...
If you want to geek out about a frame material, I understand Apple was using Liquidmetal in their frames back in the iPhone 5 days or something like that. I've forgotten the details about what it was. The material has a ton of unique properties:


Some may have seen this demonstration of it.

 
Sometimes I get a drawing/print for a part that says "aircraft aluminum". How many different types of aluminum go into aircraft? I know 6061 of some temper is used (T6?)
ALL of the alloys, depending on the Aircraft! Ask for a spec. And in addition to that, there are a lot of alloys and heat treats, that are almost specific to only one or very few aircraft.

As an aircraft sheet metal guy, in a former life, you get EVERYTHING! And you need the actual specs to make a good part!

"Aircraft Grade", is as valueless a descriptor, as "Mil-Spec", if the actual grade or spec is not part of the description.
 
Everything that is machined is 6061 Everything that is bent is 5052
Don't ask people to make decisions.
6061 is common and cheap
You work at a place that is known as fussy, your machine shop aint stupid
1100, (pure, easy to weld) various tempers, though mostly -T0, 2024,(heat treat-able) various tempers, 7075, same. Those were what I saw in aircraft use. But the manufacturer of aircraft OTHER than what I was working on, may have different opinions. Any other alloys that we saw were used for stuff like support equipment or non-aircraft uses.
 
1100, 3003, 5052, 6061, 7050, 7075 are all used in aircraft of various certifications. My airplane has 2024 for wing leading edges, duralum for the wing ribs (yeah it’s in the 1939 drawing), 5052 for fuel system, 3003 for part of the cowling, and 7050 for some clamps, along with 1018, 1020, and 4130 steel with 321 stainless tubing and most of it is covered in Dacron fabric. Cessna uses 2024, for the skins, 2024 and 7065 for forgings, 6061 for some of the formers… and I can go on and on
 
They don't care, but they don't want to sound stupid. I'd just say I can get some high-quality 6061 alloy aircraft aluminum, and ask whether they need material certs for it (I add a note that this may cost extra which scares them away from just saying bah why not).

Engineers like to sound engineery and smart. Make them feel engineery and save yourself the headache of having to hunt for something specific. If it's not an engineer, I'd make a recommendation especially with a cost note and don't belittle them by explaining that "aircraft aluminum" is a marketing term. Everyone wants something fancy until it's more expensive than the bare minimum needed.
EDIT: Customers also have plenty of other problems on their plate. Getting a metallurgy lesson is usually not their highest priority. Check your butt to make sure you don't get lashback later, but generally we know what they mean and can get going with a "is 6061, commonly used on aircraft, an acceptable alloy?"
 








 
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