Aluminum Extrusion Uses and Benefits
Over the past 20 years or so, extruded aluminum has seen a large increase in usage. In fact, of all the metals extruded today, aluminum makes up about half the market. Because of the many excellent properties aluminum provides, it can be used in a wide range of applications. Here are some of the many uses you will find for custom and stock aluminum extrusions.
What is Extrusion?
When you squeeze on a tube of toothpaste the paste comes out in the shape of the toothpaste hole. This is the basic principle used when creating custom or stock aluminum extrusions. Here is what happens.
An aluminum billet is first created in the shape of a large cylinder or log. Most billets are several feet long and they are heated to make them soft. The softened billet is then placed in a machine which utilizes a ram and die. The ram pushes the warm aluminum through the die. The shape of the aluminum extrusion depends on the shape of the die.
Freshly extruded aluminum is allowed to cool. In some applications, it may be stretched to help it maintain its new shape. Some stock aluminum extrusions are sawed to certain specifications. In fact, aluminum can be precision sawed to a high tolerance when done with the right equipment and skilled workers.
Without extrusion, it would be very difficult to manufacture certain shapes. Here is an example. If you wanted to create many small rods to turn into bolts or rivets, you would have to cast the shapes in molds, and this is time consuming. However, the process of extrusion is fast and accurate, and is the cheapest method for creating all kinds of shapes. In fact, many stock aluminum extrusions are created in square, round and flat bar shapes today.
There is a good reason aluminum makes up such a large percentage of extruded products today. For instance, many support beams are created from steel due to its strength and low cost. However, if you have a structure close to the ocean or in an environment subject to a great deal of corrosion, it’s best to build with beams from a strong aluminum alloy. This way, you combine the strength of steel with the anti corrosive properties of aluminum.
Some alloys of aluminum are very ductile and easy to work with. Plus, aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat and stock aluminum extrusions are used to create radiators and condenser tubes for many of today’s autos. You will see extruded aluminum in car engines, railroad cars, boats, subways and also in the mining industry.