eli5, What is the difference between aluminum and space grade aluminum?

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Is it just marketing or is there an actual structural difference?

In: 807

Well important question. Does it say what specific alloy it is. Or does it just say “space grade aluminum”.

Because if it says something like “Aluminum alloy 2024” then yea that is a specific alloy that is commonly used in the aerospace world.

But if it JUST says “space grade aluminum” then that is probably the same thing as when a food says “SUPER FOOD” on the packaging, there’s no actual legal regulation or anything so it’s probably marketing.

There’s a bunch of different aluminum alloys with a different applications based on cost/properties.

[Aluminium alloy](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium_alloy)

I’d bet you it’s 6061. Common and basically it’s good at most stuff.

There’s not “space grade”. Aluminum is very often alloyed (mixed) with other minerals to alter its physical properties. There are a number of alloys that are commonly used in aerospace applications (sometimes called “aerospace grade” alloys), typically designated by a grade number: 2024 might be used for the skin of a plane, and 7075 for the structural parts of the fuselage.

Different grades have different properties, like how rigid or bendable they are, how they handle weathering and corrosion, how easily they can be welded, etc.

Generally “space grade aluminum” is the 6061 alloy but I don’t really see a drastic benefit to the added cost using that alloy over using mild steel for a dog crate would give you other than being slightly lighter.

You can look at the characteristics of the different aluminum alloys to see the benefit of it in the link below.

https://www.fastradius.com/resources/decoding-aluminum-alloy-numbering/

When something is marketed as being made with space-grade aluminum, that just means that it’s the same aluminum alloy used in spacecraft. It’s really just a marketing strategy, as space-grade aluminum isn’t really all that special, but it does sound higher quality.

Similarly, surgical grade steel is the same kind of steel used in scalpels and other medical instruments. Those scalpels lose their edge fast, and they’re disposed of after surgery. So really, surgical grade means cheap, but sounds high quality.

Military grade is a similar thing. It means a product is made from materials used in general issue military equipment. It doesn’t mean “indestructible” by any stretch.