7075 Aluminum—Still the King of Aerospace Manufacturing

by | Sep 30, 2015 | Aluminum Supplier

The earliest flight machines were made primarily of wood and canvas, but much has changed since the Wright brothers’ plane, powered by a twelve horsepower engine with a thirty pound modified aluminum block, successfully marked the beginning of a new era in 1903. It didn’t take long until aluminum replaced wood as the preferred engineering material in the nascent airplane manufacturing industry, and even as modern-day composites continue to grow in popularity, today’s aircraft manufacturers still recognize aluminum—particularly 7075 aluminum—as the structural “king” of the aerospace industry.

Beneficial Characteristics of 7075 Aluminum

* Known as the strongest grade among many widely-used aluminum alloys, 7075 aluminum offers the same strength as many steel alloys, while retaining the benefits of being lightweight, corrosion resistant and easily machined.
* An aluminum alloy comprised of 5.6% zinc, 2.5% magnesium and 1.6% copper, 7075 withstands the stresses associated with high altitude flying, making it an excellent choice for many of the structural components of aircraft.
* As with aluminum in general, the 7075 alloy is reflective and yields an aesthetically-pleasing finish upon polishing, a characteristic often making painting unnecessary and thereby contributing to weight reduction—one of the most important design goals in the aerospace industry.
* Tempers T173 and T7351 of aluminum alloy 7075 provide superior stress corrosion resistance.

Common Uses of 7075 in Aircraft Construction
A cold-wrought alloy, the uses of 7075 in aircraft construction are many, including:
* Aircraft skin
* Control panels
* Shafts
* Rivets and nuts
* Stringers
* Bulkheads

Even “Kings” are Imperfect
Although alloy 7075 has long reigned as the preferred structural material for many aircraft parts and components, manufacturers also note the following considerations:

* Aluminum 7075 is not regarded as easily welded due to its composition, but it can be successfully joined by resistance spot welding.
* The superior functionality of 7075—a product of strength, durability, and weight and safety benefits—is expensive, especially in applications where over 90% of the plate is actually cut away to construct the integrated component. The high cost of the material and fabrication process, however, is eventually offset by the long term advantages the reduction in weight affords.

For a metal service center specializing in 7075 aluminum, visit Howardprecision.com. The experienced professionals at Howard Precision Metals, Inc. not only stock large volumes of various aluminum alloys, including plate 7075, but also process over 80% of the metal they sell—to the tightest tolerances in the industry.

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