When explaining extrusion and fabrication to someone who has never heard of it before, there are two common examples that most people give. The first is the visual of squeezing toothpaste out of a tube. The pressure that is applied at the closed end forces the past through the open end to create the shape of the opening as it comes out and onto the toothbrush. Whether the manufacturer uses a rounded end or a flat end will determine the shape of the paste, similar to the different nozzle shapes used by cake decorators to create fancy designs with frosting.
The second most common example is of the play dough machine that most people played with as kids where the dough was pressed through a plastic shape with a lever to create shaped dough in a similar fashion to the toothpaste. The plastic shapes were in a row and included a circle, a triangle, a star, a heart and a square. Once the pieces were pushed through the shapes, they could then be sliced so the shapes could be used to make other things.
Aluminum Extrusion and Fabrication
Believe it or not, aluminum fabrication shops do things in a similar way. Of course they are using aluminum billets instead, which are made from 99.9 percent recycled aluminum, at least they are over at Silver City Aluminum in Taunton, MA. The aluminum is heated to a specific temperature before it is pushed with ten million pounds of pressure through a steel die to create specific shapes that will be used for a wide variety of aluminum industry solutions. The extrusions can then be cut, polished or coated, using a selection of post-extrusion operations.
After the aluminum is extruded, cut and cooled, the one stop shop fabrication and finishing shop will take care of any secondary operations or finishing orders, such as painting or powder coating to provide an aesthetic and functional layer of protection. Other options, such as deburring, heli-coiling or even assembly, take place after all of these other operations have been completed. When you work with aluminum fabrication shops that can do it all under one roof, you gain the ability to decrease lead times, achieve a higher rate of quality control and create all around better products.
Did You Know??? During the extrusion process the aluminum billet is still solid. Before extrusion it is “softened” inside of a special furnace. Extrusion typically takes place at temperatures of 700 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the alloy that is being extruded. The melting point of aluminum is 1,220 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Actual Extrusion Process
After the aluminum billets are heated and softened the extrusion process begins. Aluminum fabrication shops use a variety of methods that are proprietary to their way of doing business, based upon the types of alloys that they use, the equipment that they use during extrusion and the type of products that they are producing. The moment that the machines begin to apply pressure to the aluminum billet is when the actual extrusion process begins.
The billet is pushed against the steel die until it squeezes out through the profile. Clients can choose from standard extrusion dies or create their own custom profiles to be used to create specific aluminum industry solutions and custom shapes. The amount of pressure that the machines are able to apply will determine the size of the finished extrusion that it is able to create. The aluminum comes out the other side of the profile in the desired shape.
The aluminum is then cut off at the die and any excess materials are recycled and used again. The extrusion itself is still hot at this point, so it is moved to cooling tables within the facility before any shaping or secondary operations are done. There are a couple of different methods used to cool down the metal before aluminum fabrication shops continue with the process. The machines can be fabricated or cut, machined, assembled, welded or bend, according to the client’s specifications; or they can be finished or painted and anodized before they are packed to be shipped.
One Stop Shop Fabrication in Massachusetts
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of working with aluminum fabrication shops, or you would like to place an order for extrusion and fabrication with Silver City Aluminum, please contact our customer service agents by calling 508-542-7200. Our team will be happy to answer any of your questions or will provide you with a quote for any of our standard or custom extrusion options.