A Better Understanding Of Aluminum Extrusions

Posted By: Admin | Date: 01-09-2020

Aluminum ExtrusionsCustom aluminum extrusions undergo a special process whereby an aluminum alloy material is “force-fed” through a custom die to produce a pre-designed cross-sectional profile. It’s actually quite similar to squeezing toothpaste out of the tube.

Aluminum extrusion suppliers produce and deliver finished custom aluminum extrusions. For architects, engineers, and designers, the benefits of extrusions are countless – mainly because of the remarkable flexibility with design specifications.

As for the extrusion die, it’s best understood by comparing the open end of a toothpaste tube. Since the opening is round, the toothpaste comes out as a “round extrusion”. With customized extrusions, shapes, angles, and channels are possible.

Not surprisingly, the use of aluminum extrusions has increased substantially over the last few decades. As more and more end-users realize the many benefits, the global aluminum extrusions market is bound to grow exponentially in the coming years.

Infinite Shapes and Sizes

The aluminum extrusion process allows for the creation of infinite shapes and sizes – everything from the most simple to the most complex. Typically, there are three primary shape categories:

  • Solid – extrudes without any openings
  • Hollow – extrudes with one or more “voids”
  • Semi-hollow – extrudes with partial “voids”

The real beauty of aluminum extrusions is the vast range of applications – from architectural, to automotive, to electronics, to aerospace, to construction. And the design options are endless.

A Step-by-Step Process

Without getting overly technical, the process of custom aluminum extrusions can be summarized as a step-by-step procedure. What’s important for end-users is to choose a supplier that is well recognized in the industry, and with the capability to satisfy the most demanding specifications. More than that, the key to any project success is the capacity to provide “just-in-time” logistics.

Preparing the Extrusion Die

Before an extrusion takes place, the extrusion die is preheated at a high temperature to maximize its lifespan, while ensuring the even flow of metal. The die is then loaded into an extrusion press.

Preheated Aluminum Billet

A block of aluminum alloy (referred to as a billet) is cut to size and is preheated to a very high temperature. This makes the material properly malleable for extrusion, but not in a molten state.

Transfer to Extrusion Press

The preheated aluminum billet is transferred to the extrusion press. Appropriate lubricants are then added in order to prevent the billet and associated equipment from sticking to each other.

Pushing the Billet Material

As the malleable aluminum billet enters the extrusion press, a hydraulic ram applies massive pressure that allows the aluminum material to fill the “container”, thus preparing for extrusion.

Emerging Through The Die

With continuous pressure, the aluminum material is pushed through the extrusion die, emerging through the custom openings. At this stage, the die’s opening will create a fully formed profile.

Cooling Down the Extrusion

The fully formed extruded profile now requires proper cooling as the next step in the process. It’s referred to as “quenching”, which is the uniform cooling of the material by various means.

Shearing the Extruded Piece

Shearing is required to fully separate the finished profile (right after the extrusion process). Here again, temperature plays a critical role, as the finished profile is still not entirely cooled down.

Room Temperature Cooling

After the shearing process, custom aluminum extrusions require additional cooling. At this point, the profile remains intact until the material hits room temperature (a must before the next step).

Stretching into Alignment

Because some “twisting” occurs in profiles during processing, stretching is designed to correct this aspect. The idea is to fully straighten the profile piece and bring things into specification.

Cutting to Proper Length

With the extrusion completely straight and hardened, it’s now sawed into specified lengths as ordered. The pieces are now moved to an ageing oven to complete the process prior to finishing.

In completing the extrusion process, surface finishes can be applied in order to enhance the appearance of the finished profile while providing additional corrosion protection. For example, anodizing improves corrosion resistance and enhances performance resistance. Other finishes might include painting, powder coating, and even sandblasting – all in an effort to highlight the aesthetic look of the material. Finally, profiles can be further customized – they can be punched, drilled, and even sandblasted – all to create the perfect desired specifications for a given project.

Choosing the right fit amongst aluminum extrusion suppliers

When it comes to choosing aluminum extrusion suppliers, it’s critical to choose wisely. Offshore Direct Metals (OD Metals) is internationally recognized for quality products, competitive pricing, and on-time delivery. Around the world, we serve a huge range of industries, from electronics, to aviation, to plumbing, to automotive.

Our clients include architects, designers, and engineers, all of whom demand manufacturing flexibility only attainable with custom aluminum extrusions. OD Metals outperforms competitors with state-of-the-art fabrication and the ability to deliver huge quantities. In addition, our global logistics allows for the fastest shipping.

Find out more about OD Metals by contacting our in-house extrusion specialists at 1-855-272- 3889 or visiting our website at https://odmetals.com. Once you let us know exactly what you need, we’ll show you what we can do.

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