There are a number of advantages to using copper and aluminum alloys for your application. They are lightweight and have excellent mechanical properties. However, there are some limitations. Generally, aluminum conductors cannot replace copper in critical applications.
Copper has an advantage over aluminum in terms of hardness and thermal conductivity. However, copper can also have a disadvantage in terms of ductility and corrosion resistance.
Aluminum alloys are available in different compositions. The soluble constituents in aluminum alloys include manganese, lithium, iron and silicon. Depending on the ratio of soluble elements, the properties of the alloy can be improved.
For example, adding lithium to an aluminum alloy improves its Young’s modulus. It also reduces the density. Lithium can also increase the strength of an alloy. In addition, it provides precipitation hardening.
Another benefit of copper and aluminum alloys is their ability to be welded. However, it is also important to avoid casting defects, such as uneven heat distribution. These types of defects can reduce the overall strength of the metal.
When choosing an alloy, it is also important to choose one that can withstand high temperatures. Alloys with 10 percent to 15 percent Cu are good choices. Their castability and wear resistance are also high.
An alternative to copper and aluminum alloys is zinc. Zinc is less sensitive to magnesium in solution. This increases its resistance to stress corrosion. Adding titanium to the alloy also prevents weld cracking.
Nickel and chromium are also added to aluminum to provide strength, toughness, and machinability. Nickel improves its hardness at elevated temperatures, while chromium controls its grain structure.