Aluminum Extrusions: Process and Applications

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aluminum extrusion

Aluminum is a highly intriguing material for many industrial sectors with properties that make it genuinely unique, like its strength, lightweight, corrosion resistance, appearance, and thermal and electrical conduction. The extrusion process enables the manufacturing of whatever cross-section is required, and aluminum extrusion finds many different applications in many industry fields.

So, when a specific material is extruded, it means that it is forced out through a vent or opening to come out as an extended length with a consistent cross-section. The method is also known as the toothpaste process because squeezing the white paste out of the tube is, in fact, extrusion.

Although the toothpaste idea is considered similar, extruding aluminum is not that simple, and it is indeed a complicated procedure. It starts with a billet of the aluminum heated to 900°F and then placed into a compartment in an extrusion machine. Later, the pressure is applied to the billet by force, making it pass through a small vent at the compartment’s opposing end.

The opening is a machined part that is a steel piece that creates the profile or cross-section taken on by the aluminum. Therefore, extrusion is an ongoing process that can make hundreds or thousands of feet long extrusion.

For this reason, in the article below, we discuss the complexity of the extrusion process and its applications accordingly. So, please keep reading to find out more about this fantastic manufacturing procedure and its application in modern-day industries.

Extrusion Profiles

One of the best features of extrusion is that it can produce a nearly unlimited amount and type of aluminum extrusion profiles that can be later used for numerous applications. Another big plus for creating these profiles is their dimensional stability and their relatively inexpensive production procedure.

Accordingly, these profiles are classified into three categories:

  • Solid – These profiles are square, rectangular, or round bar, and they are the least complicated profiles to be extruded.
  • Hollow – These are mostly tubes, rectangular, round, square, or any different form, and as the name implies itself, they enclose open spaces entirely.
  • Semi-hollow – For this type of profile extrusions, try picturing a ‘C’ form. The profile is almost entirely closed round, but it has a small opening on it.

Common Applications Of Aluminum Extrusions

Aluminum extrusion has become a significant feature in various industry sectors due to its cost benefits and structural virtue. Extruded aluminum pieces are flexible, both in application and manufacturing, and they can be produced by hot and cold machining processes, with continuous or semi-continuous extrusion.

Additionally, the process is allowing the creation of complex shapes on long pieces with continuous structure. Here are five industrial sectors in which aluminum extrusion is highly implemented.

Architecture And Construction

Aluminum is the second most commonly used material in architecture and construction after steel. Its extruded form is used to produce various structures, starting from railings and fences to building facades and benches. Solid but lightweight and non-ferrous aluminum parts are an ideal choice for architects working on many projects.

They can be applied like canopies on places where the construction must not weigh much but should handle a burden appropriately. High solidity means that you will need less of it, which translates to extra weight-saving. Furthermore, it is also used for the creation of dropped ceilings and inside walls. It is also a good metal for creating ladders, and the majority of them are constructed from aluminum nowadays.

Electrical Engineering

Because of its good conductive properties, extruded aluminum can be used for busbars and similar electrical equipment. Another practical application of aluminum extrusion nowadays is the shell casings of street and household lighting objects because the LED fixtures especially can have thermal management issues. When the aluminum is extruded with ribs, it makes a great radiator or heat-exchanging unit.

However, the biggest and most famous application of aluminum extrusions within electrical engineering is creating solar panel sustainable structures. Solar panels need to be strong, resistant to corrosion, and low in weight, especially if mounted on a roof. Aluminum is the perfect material for them.

Display Equipment

Almost every stand that you have ever seen during a trade fair or exhibition is constructed with aluminum extrusion. This is because the extruded pieces can be designed, so the parts interlock, making their assembling process fast and easy.

Besides, the aluminum structure is light and easily moved around, and it can be finished off in different ways to ensure an attractive and lasting appearance. Other examples of how aluminum extrusions are utilized in this display equipment industry include selling point displays, picture frames, and display cabinets.

Healthcare

It doesn’t matter which industry we’re talking about; the reliability and quality of finished products are always essential. And only a couple of sectors have standards as demanding as those in the healthcare field. Failure is not an option here; starting from the medical tools, surgical equipment, and even the simple furniture in your doctor’s office, the maximum level of cleanness and hygiene is a must.

Accordingly, aluminum extrusions are highly coveted within the healthcare industry since a tiny number of materials can compete with its incredible combination of reliability, performance, durability, and safety. Consequently, surgical tools, dental equipment, trays, containers, rolling carts, heart monitors represent only a small portion of the medical gear that’s made with the help of aluminum extrusions.

Transportation

Weight is always a big concern in the transportation industry. One of the clearest examples is aerospace, where advanced aluminum extrusion technologies help aircraft designers by offering a good mixture of low density, corrosion resistance, and improved stiffness.

Besides aerospace, aluminum extrusions leave a profound mark on the automotive sector, especially in trailers and other vehicles. Maintaining their weight low allows the drawing vehicle to consume more torque on transporting items and less on the trailer’s movement.

The same goes for RV production, which is mostly made out of aluminum and is ready to be used and driven through a myriad of weather conditions without the risk of corrosion and damage.

Final Words

If you often think about metal fabrications, you will realize that they can be found pretty much everywhere around us. But, if you go into further analysis, you will acknowledge that a good part of them is made of aluminum with extrusion fabrication methods.

Aluminum is undoubtedly the most excellent multipurpose material, which is why the above-mentioned industry sectors and many more have utilized it. If you have a big project coming up and need aluminum extruded parts or components, make sure to contact a reliable aluminum extrusion provider and make the most out of it.

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