Gone are the days when one would abide only by the standard shapes and limits pertained to traditional materials. Designers are rising to the concept of customization as they work with aluminum extrusions. In simple words, extrusion is the process of shaping a certain material (aluminum in this case) in the way of forcing it to go through a shaped opening. The extruded material, which is the end product, comes out as an elongated piece having the same profile to that of the opening die through which it has been forced. The size of an extrusion is measured by the longest cross-sectional dimension. At the time of designing the profile for aluminum extrusion, one must know about his exact requirements to benefit the most from it.
As the manufacturer proceeds with the extrusion process, he has to keep the temperature into account. This factor is important because the characteristics of aluminum are largely dependent on it, and the right temperature aids in aluminum’s finish and hardness. The basic advantage of working with aluminum is that the extrusions are flexible enough to be given any shape and size. In fact, some designs are so complex that the extruder faces quite a challenge and thus increases the cost of production. It is the sign of an expert manufacturer to know when and where to make some changes so that there are magnificent benefits at the end. The necessary tweaks, if made at the right time, helps not only in the extrudability but also with production costs and manufacturing.
The Most Vital Considerations for Ordering Aluminum Extrusions
Getting a thorough understanding of the profile is of the utmost importance when it comes to having aluminum extrusions. The three basic factors should be - the main functions of the profile, the dimensions and the shapes required by the function and the emergence of functional components as a part of the profile. Once you are satisfied with these three questions, you can proceed with the task of choosing the shape of the die.
Several factors are associated with extrusion. After getting confident about the basic functions of the chosen profile, consider the following:
The alloy - Before proceeding, the extruder would want to know about the chosen alloy. Like several other metals, aluminum does not have many uses when in its purest form. However, once mixed with alloys, it takes a splendid form and can be used in various fields. The extruder would want to know if you prefer silicon, magnesium or zinc as the other alloy so as to increase the strength of the final product or make it corrosion resistant.
The specification - For the design of any product, there are some set standards that need to be followed. These standards are usually set by the product’s multiple uses or the industry’s application for the given product. When it comes to aluminum extrusions, AMS, ASTM and ASME are some of the specifications that are chosen by all. It is up to ANSI to look upon the organizations developing the standards. The extruder will have to abide by all the specifications so as to ensure that the tolerances and temper are correct.
Extrusion temper - The hardening and the strengthening properties of the aluminum depends on the chosen alloy. The extruder normally uses some quenching technique or heat treatment to achieve the desired consistency. While checking, you can find the temper designation right beside the alloy number as a hyphenated suffix. The techniques, as adopted by the designers, are also often dependent on the alloy.
Size and shape - The extrusion profile is always measured by the CCD or the circumscribing circle diameter. The most common aluminum extrusions have profiles that are less than 8 inches in diameter. However, some expert extruders have been seen to produce aluminum extrusions with much larger CCD having 18 inches diameter. The larger the shape is given, the more expensive the extrusion becomes.
Extrusion straightness - Despite the freedom of choosing any shape, aluminum extrusions are mainly produced in straight forms, reasonable in nature. As the extrusion gets released from the press, the tweaks and changes are limited to a minimum. Even though there is a Standard Aluminum Association tolerance, the extruder can make required changes if necessary and modify the speed and force of the press to achieve the stated goals.
Dimensions (cross-sectional) - An aluminum extrusion with uniformly thick walls is the easiest to produce. But if necessary, the wall thickness can be modified within the given profile. The thickness of the wall has a direct impact on the bending strength of the profile. During the estimation process, do not forget to convey about your dimensional tolerances to the extruder so as to get a perfect result at the end.
Surface finish type - Aluminum profiles generally do not need any additional coating on it. But if you want, you can opt for a variety of finishes for your extrusions for enhanced protection or a better outlook. In order to get some specific textures, sanding, buffing or polishing is done on the surface of the extrusions. One can also opt for chemical finishes so as to get a glossy look on the aluminum. Powder and liquid coatings are often used for durability purposes.
Additional fabrication requirement - Customizations in aluminum extrusions make the way for several benefits including integrating notches and holes and reducing the necessity for extra machining. Invariably, these factors reduce the operational costs of the extrusions. From cutting to drilling, customized forms of aluminum extrusions are always the best and getting them done from a professional extruder eliminates the chances of making any mistake. The right manufacturer will have fabrication capabilities and in-house machining.
Working with aluminum provides you with infinite opportunities for extrusions and shapes. Apart from considering the overall look, one must take into account if the other requirements are getting fulfilled properly. Manufacturing customized aluminum extrusions requires years of knowledge and practice. Therefore, it is crucial to choose the right extruder in order to get the best result.