Iron Aluminum Alloy Properties

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The addition of other elements such as iron, copper, magnesium, silicon and zinc gives an aluminum alloy a different set of properties. These include strength, workability, corrosion resistance, electrical conductivity, density and hardness.

Iron (Fe) – Most of the iron in iron aluminum alloys is added during smelting to provide specific properties. Depending on the alloy, the impurity of iron can lower the metal’s ductility or impact its ability to bend and form into shapes.

Carbon (C) – Nearly all iron-manganese-aluminum alloys contain small amounts of carbon, picked up during the smelting process. This modification of the base metal affects its properties, from hard and brittle cast iron containing up to 4 percent carbon to malleable low-carbon steels with less than 0.1 percent carbon.

Manganese (Mn) – The addition of manganese to aluminum improves its strength through solution strengthening and increases the alloy’s ability to strain harden. However, it also reduces ductility and corrosion resistance.

Magnesium (Mg) – The addition of magnesium to aluminum increases its strength through solid solution strengthening and improves its strain hardening ability. This, combined with its heat-treatable nature, makes it an important structural material in truck and train bodies, buildings, armored vehicles and ship building.

Zinc (Zn) – The addition of zinc to aluminum significantly improves its strength, particularly in high temperature environments. It also enhances its cyclic fatigue resistance, making it ideal for airplane structures.

In order to produce an iron aluminum alloy that has the desired properties and hot-workability to allow economical production on conventional steel mill facilities, precise control of the resulting cast alloy crystal structure must be achieved. The proportion of body-centered (ferritic) crystal structure and face-centered (austenitic) crystal structure in the alloy must be precisely controlled. If the relative proportions of these two crystal structures are too large, a range of problems will result.