Custom aluminum extrusions are part of our daily life. Whether you are aware of them or not, aluminum extrusion products are inside our homes, offices, and outside of the world too. From windows, tables, and doors to heavy machines, aluminum extrusion applications are vast and diverse. Let’s go through a quick aluminum extrusion guide and unveil the extrusion process, the products of extrusions, and more. Aluminum is a metal with varied properties, which makes it highly
suitable for industrial applications. Extrusion is a process where metals are reshaped to the desired cross-section. For any metal, it is pushed through a die with the required shape. The shape of the die depends on the requirement. For specific requirements, custom aluminum extrusions are produced with desired mechanical and physical properties. The whole process is carried out with high precision and adherence to requirements specifications.
UNDERSTANDING ALUMINUM EXTRUSION PROFILES
The extruded aluminum profile is the product generated after the aluminum extrusion process. After pushing the aluminum rod into the die, desired aluminum extrusion profile is produced. A T-shaped aluminum profile is the most common in the industry. With the extrusion process, it is possible to produce a wide range of aluminum extrusion profiles with varied shapes, sizes, cross-sections, strengths, channels, beams, angles, and different sizes of tubing. Complex structures with high resistance to
corrosion, heat, and temperature are obtained because of the properties of aluminum. Custom aluminum extrusions produce numerous types of profiles. These aluminum profiles are hence, directly usable for the manufacturing of key products like electronic components, car bumpers, structural applications, aluminum extrusion frames, hardware joints, and much more. Many industries use these profiles like healthcare, construction, transportation, manufacturing, etc.
MOST COMMON ALUMINUM EXTRUDED SHAPES
The physical properties of aluminum like ductility and malleability, allow it to take desired shapes without much impact on strength and other properties. Typically, aluminum extrusion shapes take any shape virtually possible. From rods, tubes, aluminum channels, open beams, Z-channel, U-channel, I-beams, H-beams, J-channel, C-channel, sliding t-track, corner extrusions, structural angles, rectangles, squares, circles, any polygon, and everything else.
To classify them into immensely broad categories, here are some of them.
- Semi-solid aluminum extrusion shapes: Angles, Channels, Open forms, and other partially open forms.
- Solid aluminum extrusion shapes: Solid bars, Solid rods, and most aluminum extrusion products fall into this category.
- Hollow aluminum extrusion shapes: Tubes with different cross-sections like circles, rectangles, squares, and others fall into this category.
Most of the aluminum extrusion profiles fall into the above 3 categories. Understanding the shapes of aluminum extruded products is crucial because it defines the properties of the extruded aluminum profile.
THE COMPLETE MANUFACTURING PROCESS OF THE ALUMINUM EXTRUSION PROFILE
The aluminum extrusion process yields highly valuable products used in myriad applications. It begins with aluminum billets pushed through the die and coming out in the desired extrusion shapes. Before the process begins, aluminum is required in the form of large logs or billets. These billets are pushed through a die. Here, the die is custom-designed to produce aluminum extrusion profiles of the required shape. Generally, the die is in a hollow structure with the desired shape when the billet is pushed through it. So, it’s the die that gives the billet desired shape. The dies are made up of steel that can withstand the high temperatures and pressure of aluminum billet. The pressure required to push the aluminum billets through the die ranges from 100,000 to 125,000 psi.
The extrusion processes are generally of three types– Cold extrusion, Warm extrusion, and Hot extrusion. Depending on the final aluminum profile required, the process can be chosen. The cold extrusion process requires less finishing and is completed with close tolerances. In the hot extrusion process, the aluminum billet is fully plasticized, which prevents aluminum from getting oxides into its surfaces. During the warm extrusion process, aluminum is heated higher than in the hot extrusion process, making it easier to push through the die. The aluminum is still in a solid state, and high temperature boosts its ductility. Warm extrusion produces aluminum extrusion profiles with a good balance of properties. During the hot extrusion process, the aluminum billet should be heated above the crystallization temperature to keep it from hardening. Before pushing the aluminum billet through the die, the billet is heated to temperatures ranging from 800 to 1800 degrees F. The high temperatures of the aluminum billet soften the metal to get easily reshaped into the die structure. The temperature is not high enough to melt the aluminum metal.
In the cold extrusion process, the aluminum billet is pushed to room temperature. The pressure required to push aluminum through the die is higher than the strength of aluminum to ensure proper deformation. Aluminum products have high strength and close tolerances. Most aluminum extrusion parts manufacturers use one of the three cold extrusion processes– forward/direct, backward/indirect, and upsetting. Generally, the aluminum used for the extrusion process is amalgamated with other elements. The most common alloys used in the fabrication of aluminum profiles include aluminum 1100, 6063 aluminum, and 6061 aluminum. Once the aluminum profile is extruded, the quenching process cools down the temperature of the profiles. With the stretching process, the long profiles are straightened which are then cut to the required length for large custom aluminum profiles.
STANDARD ALUMINUM EXTRUSION PROFILE TYPES
Aluminum extrusion is used across every industry. It makes listing down all the profiles nearly impossible. Every day the types are changing, and with the fast-paced manufacturing industry, there are hundreds of new aluminum profile types being produced. Still, there are some most common and traditional aluminum extrusion profile types that are used across the globe.
Aluminum channel extrusions
Aluminum channel extrusions are to support framing for roll-formed products. These are ideal for applications of light frames, window frames, car bumpers, light poles, and many more. Their high conductivity of heat makes them versatile. Industries like manufacturing, electronics, medical and automotive are the major users, along with aerospace, construction, and industrial manufacturing.
Aluminum Extrusion Tube Profiles
There are numerous tube profiles that can be extruded. It works with hot, cold, and warm extrusion processes. Generally, the shape of aluminum extrusion tube profiles is cylindrical but they can be square, rectangular, and in any shape. Aluminum extrusion joints, aluminum cabinet extrusions, extruded aluminum framing, aluminum framing components, and aluminum extrusion rails are some more types of extruded aluminum profiles. In some cases, two-part aluminum extrusions are used for manufacturing the complete product.
GET HIGH-QUALITY CUSTOM ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS
Zetwerk is a one-stop solution for all manufacturing needs. With more than 100s profiles and practically infinite capacities, Zetwerk enables brands to get complex custom parts delivered in no time. Moreover, with 4-world class plants, Zetwerk reduces the lead times by 30% for any profile of aluminum extrusions.