Developed in 1935 and originally called ‘Alloy 61s’, 6061 aluminum is used for almost everything. It’s easily machined, and easily welded, those of you that have welded aluminum know that “easy” is a relative word. Aircraft Grade 6061 is used in everything from boat building to, as its name implies, aircraft manufacture. You can also find it in motorcycles, cars, trains, fishing reels and scuba tanks. Basically anywhere a component needs to be light in weight, structurally strong, and corrosion resistant the go to metal is 6061 aluminum.
Back before the advent of modern aluminum smelting processes, aluminum was worth more than gold. In fact at one time, aluminum, one of the most common elements on earth, was valued at almost twice the price of gold. In 1852, aluminum cost $1,200 per kg, while gold was being sold at around $664 per kg. But aluminum prices dropped all the way to $1 per kg by the 1890s. This was due in large part to the way bauxite (aluminum ore) is processed. Until 1886 smelting aluminum ore very cost prohibitive. But then Charles Martin Hall and Paul Héroult invented a smelting process during which takes place in gigantic steel pots filled with a molten electrolyte, then carbon anodes are used to pass an electric current through this electrolyte. Bauxite is then added to the molten surface. The electric current melts the aluminum which can be collected in its molten state and then be siphoned off.