How Aluminum 6061-T6 is Manufactured

Aluminum from CopperloyAll of our aluminum ramps at Copperloy begin their life as raw Bauxite, a clay-like soil located some meters underground in strata around the equator.

Alumina, or aluminum oxide, is extracted from the bauxite through a refining process using caustic soda and lime. This mixture is heated and filtered until it resembles a white powder. In metal plants all through the USA, the refined alumina is transformed into aluminum.

Developed in 1935, 6061-T6 aluminum is a precipitation-hardened aluminum. Precipitation hardening uses high temperatures to increase the yield strength of aluminum. Precipitation hardening lowers the plasticity and hardens aluminum into 6061-T6.

Three different raw materials are needed to make 6061-T6:

  • Aluminum oxide
  • Electricity
  • Carbon

Electricity is run between negative and positive carbon anodes; the anode reacts with the oxygen in the alumina and forms CO2.

The resultant liquid is aluminum, which is then tapped from the cells.

The liquid aluminum is cast into sheet ingots or foundry alloys. That’s where we come in. At our state of the art facility, we manufacture the highest quality aluminum yard ramps, van ramps, twin lock and stage ramps on the market today.

What’s The Blend Of 6061-T6 Aluminum?

6061-T6 has a density of 2.70 g/cm³ (0.0975 lb./in³) and is remarkably pure, with aluminum making up 95.85%–98.56% total. To increase hardness and durability other elements (by weight) include:

  • Silicon minimum 0.4%, maximum 0.8%
  • Iron no minimum, maximum 0.70%
  • Copper minimum 0.15%, maximum 0.40%
  • Manganese no minimum, maximum 0.15%
  • Magnesium minimum 0.8%, maximum 1.2%
  • Chromium minimum 0.04%, maximum 0.35%
  • Zinc no minimum, maximum 0.25%
  • Titanium no minimum, maximum 0.15%
  • Other elements no more than 0.05% each, 0.15% total

Are There Special Requirements for Machining 6061-T6 Aluminum?

6061-T6 is eminently weldable using tungsten inert gas welding (TIG) or metal inert gas welding (MIG). Aluminum forms a thin coat of aluminum oxide that melts at a higher temperature. Before welding, it is imperative that this oxide be removed by heating the 6061-T6 to 350°F (176°C). 6061-T6 is also much easier to weld when it is hotter than room temperature. Welding 6061-T6 without this preheating can lead to a weak and shallow bond.

Our 6061-T6 aluminum ramps are prepped with acetone, rinsed in clean water, dried, and scrubbed with a stiff, stainless steel brush prior to any welding – it’s laborious but it’s the right way to do it and makes our ramps among the best in the industry.

Why We Use 6061-T6 Aluminum On Our Yard Ramps

Even with the lighter weight, 6061-T6 aluminum yard ramps still have a standard capacity of up to 25,000 pounds, they still come with steel grating for unparalleled traction. If weight limit and mobility is key for what you do at work, then Copperloy’s 6061-T6 aluminum yard ramps are the way to go.

We use 6061-T6 aluminum because it provides a very stable, very mobile working material for our leading edge yard ramps. You can feel good using it because it is non-toxic, green and easy to clean due to its anodic coating. Remarkably, 6061-T6 aluminum is 100 percent recyclable with no downgrade in quality. The recycling process of 6061-T6 aluminum requires only 5 percent of the energy expended to manufacture it.

It seems like a small benefit but it’s one we at Copperloy pride ourselves on.