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  • 6061 T6 Aluminum Bending

    OK so I bought this really nice bender (JD2 model 3) and some 1 inch and 1 and 1/2inch dies and plan on bending and welding some 6061 T6 aluminum tube into some really cool stuff (four wheeler racks, boat rails etc.) I live in Alaska and got a price quote on some 1 inch tube 1/8th inch wall, and some 1 1/2 inch tube 3/16ths inch wall, that I think is fair. I have to buy about 600 bucks worth to come out on the deal though, so my question is, is this a good material for general construction and bending purposes? I see alot of stuff for four wheelers is made from it and some pretty tight bends? Should I go for it? I heard and read, 6061 T6 doesnt like to bend but I really dont believe that because of all the stuff made out of it. I love welding it just never bent it. Thanks for any input.
    Last edited by 11b; 01-21-2009, 11:59 AM.

  • #2
    It can be bent but will require pre-heating - it won't bend cold more than a few degrees without breaking. 6063 bends easier. If you want the strength of 6061 (~30%) you could use 6063 sch40 pipe instead of tube. Not sure if this would be an exact match, but 6063 shc40 pipe is plenty strong enough for what you reference.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by metalfab View Post
      ..you could use 6063 sch40 pipe instead of tube.
      Nope, OP has tube dies.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by 11b View Post
        ... and plan on bending and welding some 6061 T6 aluminum tube into some really cool stuff....
        Just a reminder, any welding or heating (to bend) renders the area T0 (soft).

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        • #5
          You could anneal/quench it to make it easier to bend, and it will gradually harden back up to some point in a few days depending on exactly how you go about it. Keep it on ice to keep it soft for longer. Pick up an enginering handbook on aluminum work published by Alcoa, they are easy to find used on ebay.
          -Aaron
          "Better Metalworking Through Research"

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 11b View Post
            OK so I bought this really nice bender (JD2 model 3) and some 1 inch and 1 and 1/2inch dies and plan on bending and welding some 6061 T6 aluminum tube into some really cool stuff (four wheeler racks, boat rails etc.) I live in Alaska and got a price quote on some 1 inch tube 1/8th inch wall, and some 1 1/2 inch tube 3/16ths inch wall, that I think is fair. I have to buy about 600 bucks worth to come out on the deal though, so my question is, is this a good material for general construction and bending purposes? I see alot of stuff for four wheelers is made from it and some pretty tight bends? Should I go for it? I heard and read, 6061 T6 doesnt like to bend but I really dont believe that because of all the stuff made out of it. I love welding it just never bent it. Thanks for any input.
            I have the same bender and use it to bend both sch. 40 1 1/2" and 1" pipe.
            Don't buy T-6 because it will bend a few degrees and then just break all of a sudden. Trust me I KNOW
            I need to look and see what I bought last but I believe it was 6063 T-4 and it bent beautiful I am making swim platforms on offshore performance boats with it. Call your supplier and have them put you in touch with someone who is familiar with their inventory and then try a small quantity first.
            You will absolutely hate having to heat everthing to bend it. It's simply a huge waste of time and money. Just get the correct stuff to begin with and you will be much happier.

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            • #7
              Wow, OK, I am glad I didnt buy or order it yet! So 6063 T4 is the answer? What about some 5052? And thanks for the help gentelmen
              Last edited by 11b; 01-21-2009, 11:53 PM.

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              • #8
                5086 is nice bending and strong. I broke more then one peice of 6061 trying to figure an easy way to bend that stuff.

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                • #9
                  Ok so what would be best for 4 wheeler bumpers and boat railings, we have 5052,5086,and 6063 T4?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 11b View Post
                    Ok so what would be best for 4 wheeler bumpers and boat railings, we have 5052,5086,and 6063 T4?
                    You need to see what you can actually obtain. As far as I know you cannot easily find tube or pipe made of 5000 series.
                    Ask more questions of your supplier because you will have to do that no matter what. Try to get a sheet from them or something like a website and then go from there. Then we can help you.
                    The temper/heat treat is very important. I would imagine your location is going to limit you without a good bit of research on your part.

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                    • #11
                      Yes Sir thats what I need to do is go talk to that guy. I have been emailing him and trying to do it from here which doesnt really work. I just wanted to see what my best choices are, that way when I can talk to him I can make a somewhat educated decision. I did tell him what I wanted to do with the tube and he suggested 6061 T6 so I thought that was the answer, but thankfully you guys set me straight.

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                      • #12
                        Good, just tell him you want cold bending capability.

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                        • #13
                          I have an answer! I called another Fabricater and he says he buys 6063 pipe, he has no problem bending it. So I guess that is pretty much it. I asked him about the thicker wall tubing and he said it should bend the same. So I can easily get the stuff but now I have to buy a Pipe Die Thanks for the help, and I hope this helps somebody.

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                          • #14
                            Here's some info I found stored in a word document (I'm sure if you google some of the text you will find the source on the net somewhere) about general Aluminum notes:

                            Aluminum - The Most Common Grades

                            1100 This grade is commercially pure aluminum. It is soft and ductile and has excellent workability. It is ideal for applications involving intricate forming because it work hardens more slowly than other alloys. It is the most weldable of aluminum alloys, by any method. It is non heat-treatable. It has excellent resistance to corrosion and is widely used in the chemical and food processing industries. It responds well to decorative finishes which make it suitable for giftware.

                            2011 This is the most free-machining of the common aluminum alloys. It also has excellent mechanical properties. Thus, it is widely used for automatic screw machine products in parts requiring extensive machining.

                            2014 & 2017 The 2017 alloy combines excellent machinability and high strength with the result that it is one of the most widely used alloys for automatic screw machine work. It is a tough, ductile alloy suitable for heavy-duty structural parts. Its strength is slightly less than that of 2014.

                            2024 This is one of the best known of the high strength aluminum alloys. With its high strength and excellent fatigue resistance, it is used to advantage on structures and parts where good strength-to-weight ratio is desired. It is readily machined to a high finish. It is readily formed in the annealed condition and may be subsequently heat treated. Arc or gas welding is generally not recommended, although this alloy may be spot, seam or flash welded. Since corrosion resistance is relatively low, 2024 is commonly used with an anodized finish or in clad form ("Alclad") with a thin surface layer of high purity aluminum. Applications: aircraft structural components, aircraft fittings, hardware, truck wheels and parts for the transportation industry.

                            3003 This is the most widely used of all aluminum alloys. It is essentially commercially pure aluminum with the addition of manganese which increases the strength some 20% over the 1100 grade. Thus, it has all the excellent characteristics of 1100 with higher strength. It has excellent corrosion resistance. It has excellent workability and it may be deep drawn or spun, welded or brazed. It is non heat treatable. Applications: cooking utensils. decorative trim, awnings, siding, storage tanks, chemical equipment.

                            5005 This alloy is generally considered to be an improved version of 3003. It has the same general mechanical properties as 3003 but appears to stand up better in actual service. It is readily workable. It can be deep drawn or spun, welded or brazed. It has excellent corrosion resistance. It is non heat-treatable. It is well suited for anodizing and has less tendency to streak or discolor. Applications same as 3003.

                            5052 This is the highest strength alloy of the more common non heat-treatable grades. Fatigue strength is higher than most aluminum alloys. In addition, this grade has particularly good resistance to marine atmosphere and salt water corrosion. It has excellent workability. It may be drawn or formed into intricate shapes and its slightly greater strength in the annealed condition minimizes tearing that occurs in 1100 and 3003. Applications: Used in a wide variety of applications from aircraft components to home appliances, marine and transportation industry parts, heavy duty cooking utensils and equipment for bulk processing of food.

                            5083 & 5086 For many years there has been a need for aluminum sheet and plate alloys that would offer, for high strength welded applications, several distinct benefits over such alloys as 5052 and 6061. Some of the benefits fabricators have been seeking are greater design efficiency, better welding characteristics, good forming properties, excellent resistance to corrosion and the same economy as in other non heat-treatable alloys. Metallurgical research has developed 5083 and 5086 as superior weldable alloys which fill these needs. Both alloys have virtually the same characteristics with 5083 having slightly higher mechanical properties due to the increased manganese content over 5086. Applications: unfired pressure vessels, missile containers, heavyduty truck and trailer assemblies, boat hulls and superstructures.

                            6061 This is the least expensive and most versatile of the heat-treatable aluminum alloys. It has most of the good qualities of aluminum. It offers a range of good mechanical properties and good corrosion resistance. It can be fabricated by most of the commonly used techniques. In the annealed condition it has good workability. In the T4 condition fairly severe forming operations may be accomplished. The full T6 properties may be obtained by artificial aging. It is welded by all methods and can be furnace brazed. It is available in the clad form ('Alclad") with a thin surface layer of high purity aluminum to improve both appearance and corrosion resistance. Applications: This grade is used for a wide variety of products and applications from truck bodies and frames to screw machine parts and structural components. 6061 is used where appearance and better corrosion resistance with good strength are required.

                            6063 This grade is commonly referred to as the architectural alloy. It was developed as an extrusion alloy with relatively high tensile properties, excellent finishing characteristics and a high degree of resistance to corrosion. This alloy is most often found in various interior and exterior architectural applications, such as windows, doors, store fronts and assorted trim items. It is the alloy best suited for anodizing applications - either plain or in a variety of colors.

                            7075 This is one of the highest strength aluminum alloys available Its strength-to weight ratio is excellent and it is ideally used for highly stressed parts. It may be formed in the annealed condition and subsequently heat treated. Spot or flash welding can be used, although arc and gas welding are not recommended. It is available in the clad ('Alclad") form to improve the corrosion resistance with the over-all high strength being only moderately affected. Applications: Used where highest strength is needed.

                            ALUMINUM ALLOY DESIGNATIONS
                            The aluminum industry uses a four-digit index system for the designation of its wrought aluminum alloys.
                            As outlined below, the first digit indicates the alloy group according tothe major alloying elements.

                            1xxx Series
                            In this group. minimum aluminum content is 99%. and there is no major alloying element. The second digit indicates modifications in impurity limits. If the second digit is zero, there is no special control on individual impurities. Digits 1 through 9, which are assigned consecutively as needed, indicate special control of one or more individual impurities. The last two digits indicate specific minimum aluminum content. Although the absolute minimum aluminum content in this group is 99%, the minimum for certain grades is higher than 99%, and the last two digits represent the hundredths of a per cent over 99. Thus, 1030 would indicate 99.30% minimum aluminum. without special control on individual impurities. The designations 1130, 1230, 1330, etc.. indicate the same purity with special control on one or more impurities. Likewise. 1100 indicates minimum aluminum content of 99.00% with individual impurity control.

                            2xxx through 9xxx Series
                            The major alloying elements are indicated by the first digit, as follows:

                            2xxx Copper
                            3xxx Manganese
                            4xxx Silicon
                            5xxx Magnesium
                            6xxx Magnesium and silicon
                            7xxx Zinc
                            8xxx Other element
                            9xxx Unused series

                            The second digit indicates alloy modification. If the second digit is zero. it indicates the original alloy: digits 1 through 9, which are assigned consecutively, indicate alloy modifications. The last two digits have no special significance, serving only to identify the different alloys in the group.

                            Experimental Alloys
                            Experimental alloys are designated according to the four digit system, but they are prefixed by the letter X. The prefix is dropped when the alloy becomes standard. During development, and before they are designated as experimental, new alloys are identified by serial numbers assigned by their originators. Use of the serial number is discontinued when the X number is assigned.
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                            • #15
                              ALUMINUM TEMPER DESIGNATIONS

                              Temper designations of wrought aluminum alloys consist of suff ixes to the numeric alloy designations. For example, in 3003-Hl4, 3003 denotes the alloy and "Hl 4" denotes the temper, or degree of hardness. The temper designation also reveals the method by which the hardness was obtained. Temper designations differ between non heat-treatable alloys and heat-treatable alloys. and their meanings are given below:

                              Non Heat-Treatable Alloys
                              The letter "H" is always followed by 2 or 3 digits. The first digit indicates the particular method used to obtain the temper. as follows:
                              - H1 means strain hardened only.
                              - H2 means strain hardened, then partially annealed.
                              - H3 means strain hardened, then stabilized.
                              The temper is indicated by the second digit as follows:

                              2 1/4 hard
                              4 1/2 hard
                              6 3/4 hard
                              8 full hard
                              9 extra hard
                              Added digits indicate modification of standard practice.

                              Heat-Treatable Alloys
                              -F As fabricated
                              -O Annealed
                              -T Heat treated

                              The letter "T' is always followed oy one or more digits. These digits indicate the meathod used to produce the stable tempers, as follows:
                              -T3 Solution heat treated, then cold worked.
                              -T351 Solution heat treated, stress-relieved stretched, then cold worked.
                              -T36 Solution heat treated, then cold worked (controlled).
                              -T4 Solution heat treated, then naturally aged.
                              -T451 Solution heat treated, then stress relieved stretched.
                              -T5 Artificially aged only,
                              -T6 Solution heat treated, then artificially aged.
                              -T61 Solution heat treated (boiling water quench), then artificially aged.
                              -T651 Solution heat treated, stress-relieved stretched, then artificially aged (precipitation heat treatment).
                              -T652 Solution heat treated, stress relieved by compression. then artificially aged.
                              -T7 Solution heat treated, then stabilized.
                              -T8 Solution heat treated, cold worked, then artificially aged.
                              -T81 Solution heat treated, cold worked (controlled), then artificially aged.
                              -T851 Solution heat treated, cold worked, stress-relieved stretched, then artificially aged.
                              -T9 Solution heat treated, artificially aged, then cold worked.
                              -TlO Artificially aged, then cold worked.
                              Added digits indicate modification of standard practice.
                              Cracking with 6061 is due to the T6 condition (as others have already mentioned).
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