Custom Aluminum Extrusions: Hot vs. Cold Extrusion Processes

hot-vs-coldWhen it comes to metal fabrication, standard aluminum extrusions and custom aluminum extrusions are a very popular process for forming long, durable pieces of metal from one single, solid piece. Whether you use hot or cold extrusion processes, the method is still pretty much the same. A large piece of solid metal is pressed through a steel die using an enormous amount of pressure. This pressure is used to force the metal into a desired shape. That shape can then be finished in aluminum fabrication shops using additional methods until the custom parts, pieces and products are created.

The pressure that is used to force the metal through the die, as well as the stretching and lengthening process that is used post extrusion, gives the finished product extreme strength and durability, regardless of how thin and narrow the custom aluminum extrusions are when they are completed. Both hot and cold extrusion processes can be used to create a wide variety of standard aluminum extrusions, as well as an unlimited spectrum of custom aluminum extrusions in professional aluminum fabrication shops. The process can be used to create T-shapes, C-shapes, I-shapes and H-shapes, as well as circular, square and solid shapes as well.

Hot Extrusions
Aluminum fabrication shops that use the hot metal extrusion method heat the aluminum up to approximately 75 percent of the heat that is required to melt the metal. The exact temperature is very important to the finished product. This part of the process is very important because it takes less pressure to force the metal through the steel die to make the pieces, parts and products and it also takes less time than cold extrusion methods. One of the biggest advantages of using aluminum hot extrusion processes is that larger amounts of metal can be used with this method than with cold extrusion.

Cold Extrusions
Most metal materials can be extruded through the cold extrusion method. Some of the most common types of metal that are used for these extrusions include lead, copper, titanium, steel, tin and aluminum. When doing a cold extrusion process, the advantage is that the finished pieces will not oxidize and will have excellent mechanical properties. Some manufacturers believe that the surface finish is better with cold extrusion than with hot extrusion methods.

The Extrusion Process at Silver City Aluminum
The obvious metal of choice at Silver City Aluminum is aluminum. As a professional aluminum extruder, we purchase our billet from several different suppliers and use materials that are made from 99.9 percent recyclable aluminum. Aluminum is one of the few metals that can be recycled over and over again without losing any of its properties, making it one of the greenest materials on the planet.

Our process starts by pre-cutting the billets. When we receive the billets from our suppliers, they come in long lengths and seven inches in diameter. Our crew will cut the billets into the proper size for each order based on a combination of the weight and length of the profile. We do this to minimize the amount of scrap that gets created with each production.

The next step is to pre-heat the materials. One of the advantages of using aluminum is that it is extremely pliable when it gets hot. We load the materials into a long oven and pre-heat them before they make their way to the extrusion press for both standard aluminum extrusions and custom aluminum extrusions. We bring the materials to a specific temperature in order to get the best results during the extrusion process.

To create the standard or custom shape for our clients, the metal is pushed through the customer’s steel die or profile at 10,000,000 pounds of pressure – yes, that is ten million pounds of pressure, not a typo. The heated aluminum flows through the steel profile to be pressed into the exact shape that the client has designed. This same process is also used to create standard shapes and sizes.

The final phase of the extrusion process is to cool down the metal. We move the custom aluminum extrusions and standard aluminum extrusions to a cooling table that is 160 feet in length. Our extrusions can be done at a maximum length of 30 feet. The table is much longer because we use it to stretch the still warm metal into the perfect dimension through the use of opposing stretchers. Then we cut the metal to the desired length according to the client’s specifications and heat-treat it to maximize the hardening potential of the metal. This is what makes extruded aluminum so strong and durable.

What Makes Silver City Better Than Other Aluminum Fabrication Shops
Silver City Aluminum has earned a reputation for delivering top quality custom aluminum extrusions to our clients. All of the components that we use in our extrusion system are top of the line, fully integrated and completely automated. We use PLC control technology to communicate with our machines online, allowing us to view and control the process from anywhere in the world.

This unique advantage helps us to stay on top of the functioning abilities of the machine, manage the rate of speed, extrusion recipe and other essential variables at all times. We are able to create consistent, durable and dependable finished products with the highest level of quality control for our clients because we are able to monitor the entire process from start to finish without missing a beat. Give us a call today to find out more about all of the services that we provide to our clients.