Aluminum is the world’s most abundant metal and is the third most common element, comprising 8% of the earth’s crust. The versatility of Aluminum makes it the most widely used metal after steel. Pure Aluminum is soft, ductile, and corrosion resistant and has a high electrical conductivity. It is widely used for foil and conductor cables, but alloying with other elements is necessary to provide the higher strengths needed for other applications. Aluminum is one of the lightest engineering metals, having strength to weight ratio superior to steel.

By utilizing various combinations of its advantageous properties such as strength, lightness, corrosion resistance, recyclability and formability, aluminum is being employed in an ever-increasing number of applications. This array of products ranges from structural materials through to thin packaging foils.

Aluminum alloys are alloys in which aluminum (Al) is the predominant metal. The typical alloying elements are copper, magnesium, manganese, silicon and zinc. There are two principal classifications, namely casting alloys and wrought alloys, both of which are further subdivided into the categories heat-treatable and non-heat-treatable.

Wrought alloys, which are initially cast as ingots or billets and subsequently hot and/or cold worked mechanically into the desired form.

Cast alloys are directly cast into their final form by one of various methods such as sand-casting, die or pressure die casting. Casting is used for complex product shapes. These alloys contain high levels of silicon to improve their cast ability. In comparison with wrought alloys, casting alloys contain larger proportions of alloying elements such as silicon and copper, which results in a largely heterogeneous cast structure (i.e., one having a substantial volume of second phases). This second phase material warrants careful study, since any coarse, sharp, and brittle constituent can create harmful internal notches and nucleate cracks when the component is later put under load. The fatigue properties are very sensitive t