Key Properties of Aluminium

Aluminium is an extremely useful material for many applications, the properties of aluminium that set it apart from other metals are strength to weight ratio, corrosion resistance and its lack of external magnetic characteristics. Steel is the most common metal used in engineering, but aluminium comes a close second, it is the next most popular material we laser cut after steel.

The grades of aluminium we have selected to supply and laser cut are the most suited to welding, forming and fabrication. Laser cutting aluminium is a little more complicated than laser cutting steel, but we are specialists and will ensure you get the best results. To see more information about the grades we supply and cut take a look at our aluminium page.

What is Aluminium?

Aluminium is a metal almost never found in its pure form because it bonds readily with oxygen. It oxidises in the same way that iron rusts, but unlike iron, the resulting oxide sticks to the surface and protects it, making it highly corrosion resistant.

Aluminium is produced by processing bauxite, predominantly mined in Australia. Bauxite a reddish clay like rock primarily composed of aluminium oxide. Aluminium oxide can be put through a version of the Hall-Heroult process to produce a more pure form of aluminium.

The Wave, Almere - aluminium clad

The high strength to weight ratio of aluminium makes it ideal for construction purposes

Grades of Aluminium

The properties of aluminium can be varied by alloying with other elements to create different grades, making it a very versatile metal. It can be joined using a variety of methods such as soldering, welding, and brazing as well as mechanical methods such as nuts, bolts, rivets, and other fasteners.

Grade Series Main Alloying Element Characteristics Common Uses Supplied & Stocked
1000s 99% or more pure aluminium
  • Excellent corrosion resistance and workability
  • High thermal and electrical conductivity
  • Less strong than alloys
Chemical and food processing 1050
2000s Copper
  • Strength and toughness which can be enhanced through heat treatment
  • Excellent strength to weight ratio
  • Compromises are potential corrosion and reduced workability
Aircraft and automotive No
3000s Manganese
  • Around 20% stronger than 1000 series
  • Greater corrosion resistance than 3000 series
Moderate strength and workability makes these excellent general purpose metals No
4000s Silicon
  • Greater wear resistance
  • Lower melting point without brittleness
Welding and brazing No
5000s Magnesium
  • Moderate to high strength
  • Good weldability and corrosion resistance
Marine environments
6000s Silicon & magnesium
  • Medium strength (lower than 2000 and 7000 series)
  • Good corrosion protection
  • Heat treatable
  • High formability, machinability and weldability
Aircraft, automotive and marine applications
Structural material in architecture
7000s Zinc & magnesium
  • Heat treatable to improve strength
  • Good corrosion resistance
  • Mediocre weldability and formability

Key properties of Aluminium

Corrosion Resistance

Aluminium is very reactive with oxygen, either in air or water and this is the property that makes it corrosion resistant. The reaction with oxygen forms a compact oxide layer on the aluminium surface which acts as a protective layer preventing corrosion in most circumstances. Aluminium will still corrode under certain circumstances, the most common types being atmospheric corrosion, galvanic corrosion, pitting and crevice corrosion.

Corrosion resistance can be enhanced with surface treatments such as anodising, painting or powder coating.

Low density

Low density is one of the most important characteristics of aluminium. The strength to weight ratio of aluminium is high, it is approximately one third of the weight of steel, making it ideal for applications requiring strong but lightweight materials. These include aircraft manufacturing, automotive uses and architecture.

Machinability and formability

Aluminium is flexible and easily formed through various processes including rolling, drawing and extrusion. Generally, aluminium is easy to work into complex shapes from one piece of extruded aluminium without mechanical joinery. Some applications using aluminium components created through this method include heat exchangers, and refrigeration tubing, parts for nuclear facilities and parts for the International Space Station.

Not magnetisable and excellent electrical conductivity

One of the most valuable properties of aluminium is that it is not magnetisable, so it can be used in high voltage applications. It is used in long distance electricity lines, electronics and for shielding electronic devices.

Very reflective of light and heat

Aluminium is a good reflector of both light and heat, this makes it an ideal material for reflectors in light fittings, light shades, insulation, food packaging and rescue blankets.

Impermeable and Odourless

Aluminium, even when rolled very thin, is completely impermeable to light, aroma and taste. It is also non-toxic making it ideal for packaging sensitive products such as pharmaceuticals or food.


Aluminium is 100% recyclable with no loss of qualities, making it a permanent material. The re-melting of aluminium requires only around 5% of the energy required to produce the original material.

All of these qualities vary between the aluminium grades, so it is important to do a bit of research to understand them and enable you to choose the right one for your application.


Aluminium is a little more difficult to cut than steel, copper and brass because it is softer and more reflective. It is a bit more prone to burr if the cut settings are not right, but our laser cutting experience coupled with our investment in Trumpf fibre laser machines means that we can provide you with the best quality laser cut aluminium components.

We laser cut aluminium from as thin as 0.5mm up to as thick as 20mm, find out more on our aluminium page. If you would like to place an order, or have any queries, please contact our sales team at

Aluminium Laser Cutting

Take a look at the grades, finishes and thicknesses of aluminium that we supply and laser cut.

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High Volume Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is the perfect production method for the high-volume production of metal components due to the speed, accuracy and efficiency of the process.

Fast Quotes

Accurate price, reliable lead time, no hidden extras

We are specialists in laser cutting aluminium, if you want to place an order, please don’t hesitate to contact our sales team. We aim to answer quotes sent between 8am and 4.30pm within one hour. Outside these hours we will respond the next working morning.

We accept DXF, DWG and NC files, please send information about which material, thickness and quantities you require.

Please note: We are unable to provide quotes or prices over the phone, please email us your requirements and we will respond as quickly as possible.

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