Custom aluminum extrusion has changed the way that people live. That might sound like an overstatement, but the modern processing and use of aluminum has greatly improved the lives of people all over the world. There are many benefits of aluminum products that many people don’t even realize and aluminum fabrication shops help make it possible. From standard aluminum extrusions to completely customized profiles that are used to create amazing shapes that can be used in multiple industries, there appears to be no limit to the abilities of this amazing metal.
The Story of Aluminum
More abundant than any other mineral found within the earth’s crust, aluminum takes a bit of extra work to extract it in its pure form. Derived from a mineral called bauxite, which is mined in several different parts of the world, it took until the late 1880s before man was able to economically produce aluminum commercially. When bauxite is mined it is crushed and then sprayed with water to remove the by-products of clay and silica sand. What’s left over gets dried in a kiln and then mixed with a combination of lime and soda ash. There are still several other steps of processing to go through before the bauxite is again heated in a calcinating kiln. Once complete, the material that results is a powdery combination of aluminum and oxygen, which is called alumina.
In order to get the actual aluminum out of the alumina that is used as a raw material in custom aluminum extrusion at aluminum fabrication shops all over the world, the alumina must go through a few more processes. First it goes through a smelting process and then through an alloying process. When this happens, minor quantities of alloy elements, such as silicon, magnesium, manganese or copper are added. The selection of these elements creates specific properties within the finished material, which can be beneficial to the product created with the custom and standard aluminum extrusions.
The Benefits of Aluminum
Aluminum by itself, which can be used to protect food and beverage items, as well as many more important industrial uses, offers many benefits. However it is the benefits of aluminum products that are created through the custom aluminum extrusion process that are the most significant to the modern industry across the board. Some of the inherent benefits of extruded aluminum products include:
- STRENGTH – When aluminum goes through the extrusion process, it can be made as strong as it is needed for most applications and, as a result of the process used to create custom and standard aluminum extrusions, the strength can be concentrated where it is needed most by creating profiles that have internal reinforcements and varying degrees of wall thicknesses built right into the design.
- WEIGHT – Compared to iron and steel or even copper and brass, aluminum is only about a third of the weight for these popular metals of industry. The lightweight nature of aluminum makes it easier to handle, cheaper to ship and beneficial in applications where reducing the weight of the finished product is an advantage, such as the automotive industry where lighter vehicles translate to a higher MPG rating.
- STRENGTH-TO-WEIGHT – Other benefits of aluminum products include a very high strength-to-weight ratio. The high strength of the extruded aluminum and the low weight of the material make it the perfect choice for truck trailers, bridges, the aerospace industry and other applications where being able to carry a lot of weight without contributing to the weight of the structure can be important.
- RESISTANT TO CORROSION – Aluminum is naturally corrosion resistant as it does not rust. Your custom aluminum extrusion can be designed to further prevent damage by eliminating elements that could cause problems in extreme conditions. A naturally occurring oxide film forms on the surface of the aluminum, however this inherent protection can be increased through several finishing processes, such as anodizing, powder coating or painting.
- DURABLE and LONG-LASTING – Some of the other benefits of aluminum products is that in addition to being light in weight, the strength of standard aluminum extrusions also combines with the flexibility of the material, allowing it to flex under heavy loads and then spring back after an impact. This is another reason why aluminum has become a top choice in the automotive industry. Extruded components have stood up amazingly well in testing for automotive crash management, providing safer options for drivers and their passengers.
Other reasons why many industries have called on aluminum fabrication shops to create standard or custom aluminum extrusion parts and products include aluminum’s natural thermal and electrical conduction abilities. Based upon the weight and cost of the products, aluminum is able to conduct heat and cold better than other popular metals, making it an ideal choice for heat dissipation or heat exchanges. The flexibility of aluminum in design allows manufacturers to optimize the heat dissipation in housings and other commonly used components. Aluminum is also twice as conductive as copper for electricity, making it a lower-cost, better performing alternative for bus bar distribution components and electrical connectors.
In addition, aluminum is non-magnetic and will not acquire a magnetic charge, making it useful in electronics and high-voltage applications. The non-sparking qualities of aluminum also make it well-suited for highly flammable environments or when working with explosive materials. Aluminum is also non-toxic and non-combustible and will not burn, even at very high temperatures. It is reflective and surface treatments can increase its reflective nature to be used with lighting applications or to shield areas from infrared, radio waves or light. However, more than anything else aluminum is sustainable. It is highly recycled and can be recycled and used over and over again without losing any of its beneficial properties.
Custom Aluminum Extrusion at Silver City Aluminum
If you are interested in exploring your options and learning more about the benefits of aluminum products, look no further than Silver City Aluminum. Located in Taunton, Massachusetts we provide top quality standard and custom aluminum extrusion for clients all around the world. We do all of our work in-house at our one stop aluminum fabrication shops where we help clients design custom profile solutions, extrude the aluminum and then apply secondary operations, fabrications and finishing according to the client’s needs. We do it all it all to provide you with higher quality results, shorter lead times and more control over the finished product. Give us a call at 508-542-7200 or use our online contact form to start designing your custom aluminum extrusion products today!