Custom aluminum extrusions can take on any shape you want. However, you must design it for functionality as well as manufacturability.
Uniform wall thickness reduces extrusion production time and can lower your product’s weight. It also improves contour, dimensional precision and surface uniformity.
When choosing an aluminum extrusion manufacturer, don’t make a quick decision. Consider the following tips to help you identify the best company for your needs:
1. Know Your Material
You see aluminum extruded products everywhere, from water bottles to window frames and screen doors. They are used in construction, energy and many kinds of manufacturing because they are strong, lightweight, safe, corrosion-resistant and versatile.
The aluminum extrusion process heats soft aluminum until it’s pliable, then forces it through a die to create a specific cross-sectional profile. The die can be designed to produce long profiles of complex or simple shapes, including hollow and semi-hollow shapes.
Die design is important to the success of an extrusion project because it has to withstand tremendous pressure and high temperatures. This also affects the tolerances that can be achieved and final costs. It’s important to choose an aluminum extrusion manufacturer that understands your requirements and produces detailed drawings for fabrication.
2. Know Your Application
Aluminum’s unique combination of physical properties makes it an excellent choice for a wide range of applications. It’s corrosion resistant – important for marine environments or any application where exposure to water is likely. It has good thermal conductivity, allowing it to rapidly disperse heat – useful for cookware or extruded heat sinks. And it has high electrical conductivity, allowing it to carry signals through wiring, like in electronics or in long extruded cables for power or communication purposes.
Regardless of the industry, it’s essential to know your exact needs when choosing an aluminum extrusion manufacturer. Not all companies have the same capabilities, so rushing your decision could end up costing you in the long run. It’s also important to consider the pricing schedule and rate stability – some companies may start off with competitive rates but then raise them later on.
3. Know Your Tolerances
Aluminum extrusion is a robust manufacturing process that uses heat to force softened metal through a shaped opening in a die. This gives the die-shaped profile its shape, and it also forms other internal features such as knurls or smoothed surfaces that help grip other materials when used in conjunction with them.
Some fabricated parts require tighter tolerances than the industry standard. This will usually require a CpK study and may increase the price of the part.
When choosing an aluminum extrusion manufacturer, it’s important to consider their capabilities to ensure they can provide you with the quality products you need at a reasonable rate. Look for a company with competitive rates and a stable rate structure that doesn’t change frequently or drastically as you order larger quantities over time.
4. Know Your Finishing Options
If you’ve ever seen a child run Play-Doh through the Play-Doh Fun Factory, then you’ve basically watched the aluminum extrusion process. A formable aluminum alloy is pushed or pulled through a shaped die to create an almost unlimited amount of shapes and sizes.
The choice of the alloy used is a crucial factor that can affect the finished product’s strength, durability, weldability or corrosion resistance. Pure aluminum is rarely used for extrusion; it’s often combined with other elements like copper, zinc, silicon, nickel or iron to improve the product’s performance in specific applications.
A good supplier will be able to offer you a variety of options to choose from, including length cut to the millimeter or inch and machine end finishes for custom hole drilling, thread tapping, miter cutting and more. Choosing the right one for your project requires careful consideration of their products, services and experience.
5. Know Your Fabricator
Aluminum extruded products are used in a wide variety of applications and construction projects. They are strong, lightweight, corrosion resistant and easy to fabricate. They are also highly effective at conducting heat and electricity, non-combustible and non-sparking.
The first step in the process is to design the desired profile. This is done using a computer-aided drawing or CAD software. Once the design is complete, a die is made to mimic the exact cross section of the final product design.
Once the die is ready, it is loaded into the press and pressed under high pressure to push out the aluminum. The resulting product is then cooled with water, oil or lubricant before it is finished and delivered to the customer. The cooling rate is important because it can affect the strength of the extrusion.