Understanding Tolerances and Custom Aluminum Extrusions

Posted By: | Date: 05-10-2021

When engineers and designers order custom aluminum extrusions, they require specific shapes, sizes, and configurations. And if fabrication and manufacturing were perfect, the sizes and shapes would be faultless and error-free. In reality, variations are inherent to metal forming processes, and these variations require a label description known as “tolerance."

Offshore Direct Metals (OD Metals) is one of the leading aluminum extrusion suppliers, servicing a range of customers who have some very demanding specifications. Our people understand tolerances and have the expertise to work within “allowances” during the production process. And while variations are typically on a small scale, we consider all the probabilities.

The Effort to Achieve Specific Tolerances

aluminium extrusion suppliersIn the manufacturing process, tolerances benefit both the fabricator and the customer. Essentially, it’s a “satisfaction point” that fulfills a customer's demanding pre-requisites while allowing the fabricator to produce and deliver the most perfect finished product.

For example, a customer may order an aluminum sheet to measure precisely 48.00 inches by 96.00 inches. This level of precision and accuracy is generally unattainable overall. However, with specified tolerances, a customer would definitely be satisfied.

When tolerance levels are specified (48.00 +/- and 96.00 +/-), fabrication becomes quicker and less costly to deliver the finished product. And if a designer or engineer can be fully satisfied with a wide-ranging tolerance, it’s an option that will satisfy all.

Various Tolerance Specifications

Tolerance specifications come in various forms. Tolerances can simply be specified for lengths and widths but can also define thickness requirements. With a more multifaceted product, tolerances would be assigned to slots, grooves, holes, and perforations (not an uncommon pre-requisite). Finally, the actual range of a tolerance can be small or large all depending on the designer’s preferences. 

Tolerances and Custom Aluminum Extrusions

When it comes to metal tolerances, aluminum has become a preferred raw material for a good many fabrication companies. That's because aluminum material is so much easier to manipulate than other metals. And when a few millimeters here and there are in question – it matters.

Working with an experienced aluminum extrusion supplier is the key to attaining precision in a finished product. As one of the more established aluminum extrusion suppliers, Offshore Direct Metals (OD Metals) works with fabrication partners worldwide who focus on "close tolerance."

We have the capacity to create virtually any shape, size, or configuration, including requests for some that are complex and multifaceted. As it is, our customers require (and demand) the highest precision possible, and custom aluminum extrusions meet those customer expectations.

Choosing Tolerances Can Be a Challenge

One mistake that a designer or engineer can make when drawing up specifications is to disregard the need for tolerances. However, in an effort to optimize the fabrication process, there must be some flexibility – in other words, "tolerances” must be built into the design.

The fact is, there’s no manufacturing equipment that is 100% accurate and precise every single time. When customers provide tolerances, it ensures that small imprecisions are acceptable and will not cause more extensive and more costly problems on the production line.

At the same time, choosing tolerances can be a challenging process. It’s about carefully considering every aspect of a design while relying on the manufacturing capabilities of a supplier. That’s why it’s an advantage to work with professionals like Offshore Direct Metals.

Choosing Tolerances with Custom Aluminum Extrusions Suppliers

Deciding on tolerances is best achieved by working in tandem with an experienced manufacturing partner. In order to define tolerances properly, it's critical to work with a manufacturer who appreciates the essence of tolerances and has the expertise to execute the requirements.

Offshore Direct Metals is one of those highly experienced manufacturing partners. We are one of the more specialized aluminum extrusion suppliers nationally, facilitating the conversation between supplier and customer to choose and approve specifications and tolerances.

Bottom line, successful production and manufacturing are collaborative, and that’s where success lies with a finished product. By accurately defining tolerances and keeping in mind the manufacturer’s inherent competencies, a high-quality finished product is virtually guaranteed.

Working with the Professionals at OD Metals 

Offshore Direct Metals specializes in a wide array of customized aluminum products. Our strength stems from sourcing custom aluminum products from around the world and our personal association with reputable suppliers who have the capacity to ship and deliver directly to the customer.

We have developed a sophisticated “floor-to-door” logistics approach that allows our customers to benefit from shipping and delivery that dramatically reduces overhead and improves the bottom line. We also offer customers a “stock-and-release” logistics approach (which includes warehousing).

At OD Metals, we have built ongoing business relationships with the best aluminum suppliers in the world. Bottom line, our aim is to deliver the highest quality finished products that meet the most precise specifications. We also strive to satisfy strict international manufacturing standards.

Based on our customers’ highly demanding specifications, Offshore Direct Metals sources only finished materials from global suppliers who meet ASTM Standards. We also prefer ISO certification.

With this approach, we can ensure that international technical standards meet customer needs.

Call OD Metals to start your custom aluminum extrusions order.

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