What are light alloys?

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aleaciones ligeras

Alloys are processes where two or more metallic or chemical elements are homogeneously combined, usually with at least one metal. By combining these elements, they result in another material with better properties.

This time, we are going to see what light alloys are.

What is a light alloy?

Light alloys are usually those whose main or base element is aluminium, although titanium is also used.

They are considered light metals, as their relative density is less than 4.5, so they have similar hardness characteristics to others such as steel, but their weight and density are lower.

Most common light alloys

Aluminium light alloys

As mentioned above, they are made from aluminium, together with other elements such as zinc, copper, manganese or silicon, although their proportion never exceeds 15%.

It is true that steel has greater mechanical performance, and it is worth noting its extraordinary strength, although aluminium suffers at high temperatures.

The properties they boast are low density, corrosion resistance, ductility, malleability and easy recycling.

Among its applications, it has a major impact in the automotive industry for the manufacture of wheels, seat parts and bodywork.

Some types of aluminium alloys are:

  • Aluminium and silicon: silicon is combined with aluminium to harden the metal and increase its overall strength. In this case, aluminium is the base and 5-20% silicon is used.
  • Aluminium and magnesium: this alloy has a magnesium content of no more than 10%, resulting in a metal with excellent mechanical properties, corrosion resistant and lightweight.
  • Aluminium and copper: as with silicon, copper is added for hardening and heat resistance. This results in a metal that is strong, hard and light.

Titanium light alloys

As mentioned above, we also obtain light alloys based on titanium, which is a fairly light, durable and corrosion-resistant metal.

Titanium alloys are typically used in the aerospace and marine industries. However, being a more difficult material to extract and process, they are significantly more expensive compared to aluminium.

Ultra-light alloys

Ultralight alloys are those based on magnesium and, to a lesser extent, zinc or aluminium. This results in alloys that weigh about five times less than steel. Their applications are usually extended to the automotive industry.

Finally, these alloys are very much in line with the circular economy, since all magnesium-based alloys are recyclable.

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