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Materials Science on CD-ROM User Guide

Aluminium Alloys: Systems

Version 2.1

Graeme Marshall, Alcan International Ltd.
Paul Evans, Alcan International Ltd.
Andrew Green, MATTER
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Assumed Pre-knowledge

Before starting this module, it is important that you can use binary phase diagrams to define the equilibrium constitution of an alloy for any combination of composition and temperature. If you need to review this topic, then you might like to refer to the module Introduction to Phase Diagrams.

You should also be familiar with the following terms: density, thermal conductivity, electrical conductivity, specific heat, melting point, tensile strength, tensile ductility, elastic modulus, hardness.

Module Structure

This module comprises 3 sections:

  • Properties of Pure Aluminium
  • Alloying Additions
  • Classification of Aluminium Alloys

Properties of Pure Aluminium

In this short section, the basic properties of pure aluminium are compared with those of other common engineering materials. The properties considered are as follows:

  • Density
  • Electrical Conductivity
  • Thermal Conductivity
  • Specific Heat
  • Melting Point
  • Tensile Strength
  • Tensile Ductility
  • Elastic Modulus
  • Hardness

Alloying Additions

A small number of other elements are added to aluminium in order to modify its basic properties. The eight most important are chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, silicon, titanium and zinc. These can be grouped into those with high solid solubility and those with low solid solubility. Binary phase diagrams are given for each of the major alloying elements.

Classification of Aluminium Alloys

Aluminium alloys are classified by both composition and temper. This section introduces the 'AA' or Aluminium Association system of classification. At the end, a couple of exercises are provided to check whether the student can recognise and use these classifications.


The student is referred to the following resources in this module:

    Polmear, I.J., Light Alloys, 2nd ed., Arnold, 1989

    Mondolfo, L.F., Aluminium Alloys: Structure and Properties, Butterworths, 1976

    Porter, D.A., and Easterling, K.E., Phase Transformations in Metals and Alloys, 2nd edition, Chapman & Hall, 1992


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