Custom Aluminum Extrusions vs Steel

Posted By: | Date: 12-01-2022

There are many options for designers, engineers, and manufacturers to choose from when specifying metals for fabrication. When it comes to the extrusion process, every metal offers unique benefits and properties. With custom aluminum extrusions, for example, suppliers are offering finished products that are fast becoming a viable alternative to steel.

The key when choosing aluminum over steel is to work with one of the established aluminum extrusion suppliers in the industry – one that has the experience and expertise to provide quality products and excellent service. Offshore Direct Metals specializes in custom aluminum extrusions and services an extensive range of industry sectors.

Choosing Between Aluminum and Steel

aluminum extrusion suppliersWhen working with aluminum extrusion suppliers, customers are apprised of the advantages and benefits of choosing aluminum over steel. Indeed, it’s not an uncommon decision-making point and one that is worth exploring in depth. Needless to say, there are specific pros and cons to the argument. Still, with all things considered, customers are finding compelling reasons to choose aluminium.

Compared to steel, aluminum is far more pliable, making it easier to machine into a finished product or form into complex shapes (when extruded through a die). In terms of corrosion resistance, steel and aluminum are both similar. As for weight, aluminum is very lightweight yet maintains a higher strength-to-weight ratio than steel. This is critical when it comes to some applications.

The Benefits of Custom Aluminum Extrusions

For industrial applications where weight and strength are the priority requirements, aluminum is the best option for a finished product. The same applies when corrosion resistance is a key specification. That’s why both the automotive and construction industries typically opt for aluminum over steel.

Cost is another consideration, having a direct impact on material selection decisions. By the pound, aluminum can often be cheaper than steel and is also cheaper if an aluminum extrusion is specified. Finally, the strength-to-weight ratio of aluminum is a key concern for many industries.

Understanding the Main Problem with Steel

Steel is known to be super strong, but its weight-to-density ratio is about 2.5 times greater than aluminum. And while the structural rigidity of steel contributes greatly to the strength of a structure, aluminum can provide very similar attributes to the structure but with half the weight of steel. In many industrial applications (marine and automotive), strength and weight considerations are essential to a final product. It means that an aluminum marine vessel or automotive vehicle can be manufactured at a specified strength but with far less weight when compared to using steel.

The Benefits of Using Extrusion Processes

Extrusion processes allow for many different types of raw materials to be used when manufacturing a finished product. With high production volumes, there’s a low “cost per part”, thus making for a cost-effective end product. Surface finishes can be varied, with some allowing for long term resilience. With hot extrusions, post-extrusion modifications or alterations are easy to accomplish because the product is still hot. With cold extrusions, fabricators can attain specific desired mechanical properties. This is particularly true if a customer requests precise product specifications or unique attributes.

Custom Aluminum Extrusions Found Everywhere

With aluminum extrusion processes, fabricators design and produce an extraordinary range of finished products. As such, there are few industrial applications that can’t benefit from aluminum extrusions. In the transportation industry, for example, aluminum extrusions are the ideal recipe for chassis beds, engine blocks, and transmission housings. The same is true for modern railway and subway cars.

Aluminum extrusions are also in demand as structural components for today’s lighter-weight vehicles, including many pickup trucks. This is where weight-to-strength ratio has a great bearing. Because aluminum will conduct heat efficiently, extrusions are also being built into air conditioners, HVAC units, and various components that heat and cool computers and audio/visual systems.

In the construction industry, extruded aluminum components are used because they effectively resist distortion. These components maintain their strength and flexibility and spring back from an impact.

Various Metals that Can Be Extruded

Almost any metal can be extruded, although some can be cost-prohibitive compared to other fabrication processes. Two types of extrusions are available. One is the continuous extrusion which creates a practically endless piece of finished material. The other is a semi-continuous extrusion that creates individual extruded pieces in various multiples, based on customer needs.

Aluminum is the most frequently extruded material – it can be fabricated, painted, and anodized. The extrusion process produces complex cross-sections with surface finishes that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. With high corrosion resistance and excellent thermal conductivity, aluminum extrusions are the product of choice in construction, automotive, and aerospace.

Choosing OD Metals for Aluminum Extrusions

For designers, engineers, and manufacturers, Offshore Direct Metals delivers high-quality aluminum extrusions that meet very demanding specifications. As one of the more established aluminum extrusion suppliers, we offer our customers “floor-to-door” logistics designed to reduce overhead. We have established business relationships with the top global aluminum suppliers and provide high-quality products that satisfy the strictest standards.

Offshore Direct Metals only sources products from ASTM suppliers. As such, we make every effort to satisfy the highest international technical standards.

Contact us to start your order today.

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