What is Aluminium Extrusion?
The process of aluminium extrusion is rapidly becoming one of the most popular industrial techniques due to its versatility, strength and ever-increasing use in a variety of manufacturing projects. During the procedure, complex cross-sectional components are produced that acquire enhanced strength yet are lightweight and able to maintain a degree of flexibility. The technique can be used on other metals but it is the unique properties of aluminium that have made it so widespread.
The process of Aluminium Extrusion
First of all a die has to be made to produce the eventual cross-sectional profile. Dies can produce simple, standardised tubes or bars with a variety of designs such as a ‘T’ shape or they can be incredibly complex with hollows and recesses to suit one-off customised projects. Heating a mill finish billet of aluminium until it is malleable but not liquefied allows the metal to be pushed through the die by a ram fitted to an hydraulic press. The result is a long bar measuring up to a total of ten metres or more than thirty feet with the cross-sectional profile running its entire length. Diameters can vary from just a few millimetres up to 400mm or fifteen inches. The aluminium extrusions are then quenched in machinery with sophisticated temperature gauges to ensure the metal will eventually be a perfect match for the project it is destined for. The extrusions are then subjected to a heat of up to 400 degrees Celsius in specialised curing ovens, a process which can take as little as twenty minutes. Once cooled, the extrusions can be cut into appropriate lengths and packaged ready for delivery. But it is the aluminium which makes the extrusion process so versatile.
In praise of Aluminium
An appreciation of aluminium as a metal has grown significantly since designers have been inspired to find alternatives to steel in the race to reduce carbon emissions. They have discovered what inventors first noticed in the early days of aviation just before the outbreak of World War One, that aluminium can create lightweight structures that maintain strength under pressure particularly in cold atmospheres. From its original use in providing fleets of aeroplanes, aluminium is now being used in all other forms of transport including yachts and luxury, high-performance cars. Complex extrusions can be manufactured to produce an infinite number of parts such as radiator grilles or entire door panels at a cost effective price.
Ideal for Projects inside and out
Aluminium has a natural ability to resist rust due to its reaction with oxygen which forms aluminium oxide across the entire surface. The extrusion process enhances this property by exposing large surface areas within the cross-sectional profiles. The use of aluminium extrusions has been invaluable in the construction industry which uses tens of thousands of them as window frames which are all guaranteed to keep their pristine appearance for a least a century. Aluminium extrusions are being used inside buildings to create stylish staircases and fittings. And in many cases, architects are relying on the strength and flexibility of aluminium extrusions for the frames of buildings to create inspiring structures with innovative shapes such as waves.
Magnets and X-Rays
Aluminium extrusions can be manufactured for a variety of highly-specialised projects that require a resistance to magnetic fields, infrared and radio waves. In satellites orbiting the earth aluminium extrusions can be used to create structures that are so reflective they protect the delicate electronics inside from the sun’s radiation and heat. Much closer to home, aluminium extrusions are being used in many sophisticated medical appliances such as X-ray units and scanners where the metal’s non-magnetic qualities are invaluable. And where would the electronics industry be without aluminium extrusions? Thousands of components are regularly being manufactured to provide the cases for laptops and smartphones in addition to the intricate circuit boards of the interiors.
Heat and Power
Aluminium is an effective conductor of heat and is currently being used to great effect in the expanding solar energy industry for lightweight components and panels. Aluminium extrusions are ideal for structures that involve high voltages or temperatures. With non-toxic properties and a resistance against flames, aluminium extrusions are even being used for equipment in the factories where they are produced.
A Seamless Production
The process of manufacturing aluminium extrusions has transformed modern society. From shelving to sports equipment, aluminium extrusions are being used for an infinite number of innovative projects. Intricate cross-sectional profiles that reduce the need for additional welding result in seamless aluminium extrusions that offer strength and flexibility.