Next time you see an N-95 respirator mask, take a close look at the bridge and you will notice a small strip of metal. That strip of metal is made up of 3003 aluminum—one of the most versatile grades of aluminum featured across a wide variety of applications.

Part of the 3xxx series of aluminum, the primary alloying element in 3003 aluminum is manganese. In the case of 3003 aluminum, the amount of manganese ranges from 1-2%. This provides a high level of tensile strength (also referred to as ultimate strength, it is the maximum conventional stress that a steel can withstand). In fact, its tensile strength is in the range of 17 to 30 KSI.

3003 aluminum has excellent workability, weldability and corrosion resistance, and conforms to AMS QQ-A-250/2 and ASTM B209.

6061 aluminum vs. 3003 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, which is achieved by precipitation hardening. This grade has a good strength-to-weight ratio and is also heat-treatable. With great formability and weldability, it is used for engineering and structural applications, boats, furniture, and more.

3003 aluminum in the fight against COVID-19
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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