Take a close look at the bridge of an N-95 respirator mask. You will notice a small strip of metal. The metal strip is made of 3003 aluminum. This is a very versatile grade of aluminum used in many different applications.

3003 aluminum is a relatively low-cost alloy composed of 1.2% manganese, 1.0% magnesium, and 97.7% aluminum. This versatile material is highly resistant to corrosion and durable, making it popular for many applications, such as medical equipment, cooking utensils, cabinets, and more.


Manganese is part of the 3xxx series of aluminum, the primary alloying element in 3003 aluminum. In the case of 3003 aluminum, the amount of manganese ranges from 1-2%.


Steel has a high tensile strength, also known as ultimate strength. This is the maximum stress that steel can withstand. In fact, its tensile strength is in the range of 17 to 30 KSI.

Is 3003 Aluminum Bendable?

3003 aluminum has excellent workability, weldability, and corrosion resistance and conforms to AMS QQ-A-250/2 and ASTM B209. In the annealed condition, 3003 can easily be cold-worked and formed. It is also well suited for anodizing, though it does not respond well to painting.

3003 Aluminum vs. 6061 Aluminum

How does aluminum 3003 compare with another commonly used grade: 6061 aluminum? A6061 aluminum features higher strength (tensile strength range is 20 to 42 KSI) compared with 3003 aluminum.

6061 T6 is one of the most common materials in the world. The T6 refers to the temper or degree of hardness achieved by precipitation hardening. This grade has a good strength-to-weight ratio and is also heat-treatable. With excellent formability and weldability, it is used for engineering and structural applications, boats, furniture, and more.

3003 aluminum is more corrosion-resistant and has better formability than 6061 aluminum. 3003 aluminum offers greater strength than 6061 aluminum in the 20 to 42 KSI range.

3003 aluminum has good machinability and can be cold-worked, while 6061 aluminum is heat treatable and can be welded. 6061 aluminum may be the ideal choice for higher strength and better corrosion resistance. However, for general-purpose applications requiring good formability and weldability, 3003 aluminum may be the better option.


What is 3003 Aluminum Used For?

Circling back to the N-95 respirator masks, while the small strip of 3003 aluminum may seem like a minor detail, it is in fact a very important distinction between it and most homemade masks. In fact, the origins of this mask date back to 1910 and was inspired from a non-woven, molded bra cup.


This is typically aluminum grade 3003 with an O-temper (which is the lowest strength, highest ductility temper) to ensure the right flexibility. This indicates that a soft annealed process—.

But N-95 masks are not the only COVID-19-related product in which you will find 3003 aluminum. Large hospital rooms and labs contain air-filtration systems. These large systems typically use galvanized metal for the filter frame. Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, some companies have begun producing small portable filtration systems that can be used in hospital rooms for patients. Among the grades being used to produce these filtration systems is 3003 aluminum sheet.

As one of the most highly versatile grades of metal, 3003 aluminum a range of products—from cookware to fuel tanks—and right on the tip of one of the most talked about products in the fight against COVID-19.

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