You might not think that aluminum products are cool or exciting, but once you understand how they are made and all of the benefits associated with using custom aluminum extrusion, you will very likely change your mind. While aluminum is used in common items that we see each and every day from car parts to frames for aluminum doors and windows, bicycle frames and tons of other consumer products, we don’t often think about how these components and parts are made. Aluminum products can be created using a standard or custom extrusion die to produce a desired shape in the specific size and length required, as well as finished with extra treatments such as painting or anodizing aluminum to enhance the product.
How Does It Work?
The process itself is pretty interesting. Do you remember playing with clay or play-dough as a child? If you do, chances are you also remember pressing the clay through a plastic shape piece to make different things. The round tube shape was used by many kids to make play-dough “spaghetti” or arms for homemade action figures. There was also a square, a star, a triangle and a couple of other specialty shapes in that bright yellow plastic bar to choose from for making clay parts. Custom aluminum extrusion works the same way, except instead of clay we use aluminum and instead of plastic shape pieces, we use standard or custom designed steel profiles or dies to use for turning aluminum into all those crazy shapes.
It’s obviously a lot easier to push clay or play-dough through a plastic shape than would be to make shapes from aluminum. The aluminum arrives in the form of billets. At Silver City Aluminum we buy from providers who give us 99.9% recycled aluminum. Right off the bat it is very environmentally friendly. Because the material is made from recycled aluminum instead of raw, huge energy savings and material costs are gained before any components are made.
The aluminum is pre-heated to hundreds of degrees in temperature to make it “soft” enough to press through the steel die. There are standard dies or profiles that will create basic shapes, similar to the clay set you played with as a child. Rods and hollow rods or pipes, solid and hollow bars, as well as a variety of other commonly ordered shapes. Custom aluminum extrusion involves the creation of a unique die or profile that is designed according to the client’s specifications. It can include a whole bunch of specialty pieces and methods that will enhance the abilities of the finished aluminum products.
The aluminum is then pushed through the steel die or profile using ten million pounds of pressure. Can you even imagine what ten million pounds of pressure must feel like? It is kind of hard to comprehend. The aluminum is pushed through in one long piece, just like the clay from your youth. It is then cooled, stretched and treated. Once that part of the process is done, the extruded aluminum can then be cut to the desired length according to the client’s specifications. Gigantic 160 foot long cooling and stretching tables are used to accomplish all of this within the manufacturing facility.
Extruded Aluminum vs. Other Types of Aluminum Products
You might be wondering why someone would go through all of the trouble to create custom aluminum extrusion when poles and pipes can be made from welding or soldering together pieces of rolled aluminum or other materials. While there are other ways to accomplish similar results, the truly custom abilities of aluminum extrusion just can’t be beat. In addition to having the ability to create unique shapes and sizes that would normally require a lot of fabrication and secondary work, there are other benefits as well.
Protective Qualities of Aluminum – Another cool aspect of working with aluminum products is that they are naturally resistant to corrosion. On top of that natural ability, you can also elect to coat the finished custom aluminum extrusion in a number of ways. Finishing treatments, including painting, machining, etching, chemically treating and even anodizing aluminum are all popular methods for increasing the durability and long-lasting nature of aluminum products. Colors can also be added to enhance the marketability of the products for consumers and other end users.
Imagine one great big long piece of extruded aluminum. Then think about how that long piece can be cut to specific lengths to make aluminum doors and windows. The framing can be customized according to the consumer’s needs, creating specialty doors and windows for large spaces or unique applications. A big long pieces of custom aluminum extrusion can also be used in other ways. Seamless aluminum gutters are wildly popular right now because dirt, leaves, sticks and debris won’t become stuck inside of them as it would with seamed gutters. The chance of leaks and repairs also decreases when there aren’t seams to consider. No welds, no joints, no weak spots.
Custom Aluminum Products at Silver City Aluminum
If you are interested in learning more about the advantages associated with using custom aluminum extrusion to create aluminum doors and windows, car parts, marine components and a wide list of other industry-specific products, contact Silver City Aluminum in Taunton, MA. We supply custom products to clients all over the world and can help you create custom aluminum extrusion dies to suit your particular needs and requirements. We can even assist in the selection of finishing applications, including paint, machining and anodizing aluminum to increase its longevity and durability. Give us a call at 508-542-7200 to get an estimate on our services or to learn more about creating your own custom extrusion dies.