Silicon: Increasing the Properties of Aluminum and Copper Alloys

Copper and aluminum are used in a range of applications around the world. You can find aluminum as beverage cans, metal building sheets and storage tanks. Copper is often found in environments that are electrically conducive, as you may see it as wiring. You can also find copper in electronics and used as brass or bronze in the jewelry industry. Many elements will be added to the aluminum and copper alloys to make it more workable based on the manufacturing method that is used. These additives can make metals more fluid when worked, increase their heat resistance, and reduce brittleness. Silicon is one such element that can be found in both copper and aluminum alloys.

Silicon is a chemical element that is non-toxic and abundant. So you will find it in a lot of applications. When it is added to aluminum, the silicon makes the metal alloy more fluid without breaking the metal down at high temperatures. The silicon actually lowers the aluminum’s melting point. The aluminum will not experience hot tearing as there is no brittleness.

Other advantages when silicon is added to aluminum is that it improves certain structural characteristics. The aluminum will experience less shrinkage when it is used in casting applications. This metal property is highly desired when making intricate castings that are thin. When silicon is added by itself, the aluminum becomes non-heat treatable. If magnesium is added along with the silicon, the aluminum can become heat-treatable as it becomes magnesium-silicide. You can often find silicon aluminum as filler wire when brazing and welding aluminum.

For applications that use copper alloys, silicon provides fluidity properties as well. Silicon which is added to brass can significantly increase the alloys strength. In addition, silicon can make brasses highly corrosion resistant. Silicon brass will offer less conductivity than other copper alloys that have nothing added to them.

Another interesting benefit that silicon provides to copper is that it can remove the oxygen from copper when worked. The deoxidation process is essential when wanting to make the metal alloy, such as copper, fluid without making it brittle or impacting its tensile strength. The process will also get rid of gas holes that can make the alloy fail in particular applications.

If you are looking for copper or aluminum alloys that has silicon added, turn to Belmont Metals. We offer virgin grade 10% silicon copper in both slabs and 1/2″ to 1″ lumps; 30% silicon copper in mesh pieces (1/2″x14″) and broken slabs; and 50/50 silicon aluminum in 30-60 mesh granular and 16-17 waffle.

By providing a range of choices in metal alloys, our customers can locate the items they need based upon the specifications of their applications. Reach out to our company today to learn more about silicon when it is added to aluminum and copper. You can also now order metal alloys in small quantities and in bulk using our online ordering form.