Aluminum extrusions are made by squeezing heated aluminum compound through a die with a profile of the desired shape. Extrusions are typically long lengths of the fixed profile. The construction and automobile industries are two of the biggest consumers of extruded aluminum, requiring door and window frames, structural framing systems, roofing, exterior cladding, and so on.
The extrusion process is considered to be the most effective way to fabricate parts that need to have a uniform cross-sectional area. Extruders can provide both custom and stock shapes based on the customers' requirements.
Extrusion is a process used in manufacturing to fabricate parts of uniform cross-sections by squeezing the material through a high-pressure outlet. A die is used to give the desired shape to the extruded metal. While many metals are used for extrusion, aluminum is most widely used for the advantages it offers. Aluminum extrusions form 50% of the total extruded products market.
Construction industry is one of the biggest consumers of aluminum extrusions. Door and window frames, roofing and exterior cladding, shop fronts, etc are some of the areas where aluminum extrusions are used. Aluminum extrusions also find extensive use in automobiles, railway coaches and marine applications.
The extrusion process enhances properties of aluminum metal. It facilitates fabrication of products that are much stronger and durable than average assorted parts. The process allows designers to design products of varied sizes and at the same time maintain adaptability to changes or additions.
Aluminum Extrusion Process
Aluminum billets are heated in a furnace to a temperature range of 750-900°F as this temperature is the malleability point of aluminum. The metal now becomes a soft solid that can be pushed through the dies by applying necessary pressure. The extrusion process is considered to be the most effective way to fabricate parts that need to have a uniform cross-sectional area. The desired shape, after being extruded out, is passed through a cooling apparatus, which uses air, water sprays, or water baths to cool the extrusion and solidify the shape.
Advantages of Aluminum Extrusion
- High strength-to-weight ratio: Aluminum is the most preferred metal to extrude, as it is very light in weight. Other metals like copper, brass and steel weigh as much as 3 times heavier that of aluminum. Aluminum extrusions give very strong parts with relatively low weight.
- Anticorrosive nature: In the natural state aluminum gets a thin layer of oxide on the surface, which protects it from corrosion. The extrusion process further adds to this oxide layer enhancing the resistance to corrosion.
- Cost effectiveness: Aluminum extrusion is extremely cost effective when compared with extrusion of other metals. It produces a complete unit or small parts that can be interlocked with other metal parts to form a complete structure.
- Flexibility of size and shapes: One can get Aluminum extrusions in various forms and shapes comparatively easily than other metals and non-metals. Aluminum extrusions dies are easy and relatively inexpensive to install and maintain.
- Adaptability to high temperatures: When exposed to high temperatures, aluminum extrusions do not release any noxious vapors.
- Thermal and electrical conductivity: Aluminum extrusions have efficient electrical conductivity and hence are used in electric connectors. Their excellent thermal conductivity also facilitates their use in heat exchanger applications.
The primary reason for the widespread growth of aluminum extrusions is the nominal cost of the process and less lead times. The process is faster than most of the other production processes. Some more examples of aluminum extrusion applications are aerospace products, architectural framing, copier components, circuit board, modem housings, medical equipment, vending machines, and cable management products.