Aluminum metallurgy is a delicate and complex process, and doing it improperly can have disastrous effects both for the metal and for the people working with it. To ensure both the safety of your workers and the quality of your product, anyone working with aluminum should receive aluminum metallurgy instruction from an experienced expert and pursue an official aluminum metallurgy certification.

This is what you should know about aluminum metallurgy and the training process, including how you can get started earning your certification right now: 

What is aluminum metallurgy?

Aluminum metallurgy is the process of purifying aluminum to draw out its desirable properties and forming aluminum alloys by mixing purified aluminum with other metals.

Metallic aluminum does not occur in nature. To create it, aluminum metallurgists must extract it from substances such as aluminosilicates, bauxite, and iron-rich laterite, and purify it. This process is called extraction metallurgy.

After extracting and purifying metallic aluminum, aluminum metallurgists will often combine it with other metals to create either “commercial” aluminum (99 to 99.6 percent pure aluminum with small amounts of silicon and iron added) or aluminum alloys (aluminum mixed with other metals). This is the alloying process.

Why should I take aluminum metallurgy training?

Extracting, casting, and forming aluminum through metallurgical processes is essential for using it for virtually any of its many industrial applications. If your organization works with aluminum in any industrial or manufacturing capacity, you will have to perform aluminum metallurgy in one way or another.

Aluminum metallurgy is also a delicate, complex process that requires significant care and precision. Mistakes made at any point during the extraction, purification, casting, or forming process can compromise the quality of the metal.

Secat recommends aluminum metallurgy training for:

  • Process engineers
  • Process technicians
  • Supervisors
  • Quality technicians
  • Quality managers
  • Metallurgists
  • Lab managers

How does aluminum metallurgy training work?

To receive aluminum metallurgy certification, interested students must take a course offered by an institution that can provide training proven to impart all the necessary knowledge and skills a professional aluminum metallurgist will require.

Certification training is a relatively involved process that will require multiple hours of training by certified experts with years of experience. This training will involve both lectures and hands-on demonstrations and practice. 

For example: Secat offers an annual aluminum metallurgy training program of our own. By completing this course, professionals can earn an official aluminum metallurgy certification proving that they are certified to work as a professional aluminum metallurgist. 

Secat’s aluminum metallurgy courses are an investment of $5,000 each and consist of four total courses. Each of these courses includes four, eight-hour days of on-site training at Secat facilities. This training combines lectures, guest presentations, and hands-on demonstrations using laboratory scale equipment. There is a three-month break between each course, so the full certification program takes nine months to complete from registration to the end of course 4. 

Splitting aluminum metallurgy training into four discrete courses allows Secat’s experts to focus on a different essential element of the process in each course. Each of these courses may be taken individually, but anyone who wants to receive official Secat aluminum metallurgy certification must take all four.

Reviewing the details of each Secat course will give you an idea of what you’ll learn during certified aluminum metallurgy training:

Course 1: Aluminum Casting

March 11 – March 15, 2024

The first course: Aluminum Casting covers aluminum shape casting and ingot casting.

Students will receive instruction on:

  • Understanding cast and wrought aluminum alloy systems
  • Common melting techniques, including charging, filtration, and degassing
  • Common methods of shape casting techniques, including sand, permanent mold, and die casting
  • Direct chill ingot/billet casting

Demonstrations include: 

  • The effects of cooling rate and grain refiners on casting microstructures and properties
  • Hands-on exposure to common test methods for measuring hydrogen and inclusions in the melt
  • Brief exposure to recycling, emissions, sustainability, and tools for computational simulations

Course 2: Deformation Processing

June 3 – June 7, 2024

Course 2: Deformation Processing covers the wrought processing of aluminum alloys, emphasizing rolling, forging, and extruding. 

Students will receive instruction on:

  • Hot and cold rolling and how aluminum microstructure evolves throughout processing
  • Forging processes and equipment
  • The extrusion process, with a discussion on metallurgical features unique to extruding
  • Stamping, drawing, joining, and fabrication

Demonstrations include:

  • The concept of flow stress and how it affects workloads on presses
  • The evolution of aluminum microstructure during forging
  • Typical defects common for each wrought processing method

Course 3: Thermal Treatments

September 2 – September 6, 2024

Course 3: Thermal Treatments covers common thermal treatments for both cast and wrought aluminum alloys, including homogenizing, pre-heating, annealing, stress relief, solution heat treatment, quenching, and aging.

Students will receive instruction on:

  • The temper designations of aluminum alloys
  • The effects of homogenizing on aluminum microstructure and how homogenization parameters can affect the properties of the final product
  • The heat treatment process and windows for solution heat treatment
  • The aging process and effects of time and temperature on aluminum properties

Demonstrations include:

  • How and when recovery, recrystallization, and grain growth occur during annealing
  • The effect of quench rate on distortion, residual stress, and properties

Course 4: Testing & Properties

November 4 – November 8, 2024

The final course: Testing and Properties covers the metallurgical tests used to evaluate and certify metal product forms.

Students will receive instruction on:  

  • Aluminum grades and tempers
  • Measuring chemical composition using optical emission spectroscopy
  • Mechanical properties of aluminum alloys
  • Understanding common metallographic (micro and macro) sample preparation techniques
  • Types of corrosion, corrosion mechanisms, and electrochemistry in aluminum alloys

Demonstrations include:

  • Measurement of fatigue and fracture toughness of aluminum alloys
  • Microstructural characterization of aluminum allies by use of optical and electron microscopy
  • How formability parameters such as tensile R&N value and forming limit diagrams are measured

How can I get aluminum metallurgy training?

You can register for Secat’s Aluminum Metallurgy Certification Training online right now, starting with Course 1: Aluminum Casting on March 11.