Metal Forming: How Using Custom Aluminum Extrusion Stacks Up

metal-forming-methodsWhen it comes to forming metal, there are four primary options that are used within the manufacturing industry. Choosing which option is better can be determined by the cost of the forming application, the end result of the metal after the method is applied, and the ability of the option to create the desired results. Custom aluminum extrusion provides manufacturers with the option of using a standard extrusion die to create a basic shape, which can then be further customized through the use of post extrusion operations. However, clients can also choose to create and use custom extrusion dies to help increase the strength, durability and other properties of parts and products through strategic design.

The 4 Types of Metal Forming Applications
While we are focusing primarily on custom aluminum extrusion as the best method for metal forming with regard to strength, durability and long-lasting functionality, there are still three other types of metal forming applications that are used within the industry. The other three include: roll forming, press brake bending and stamping. Compared with the other options, roll forming is the least used of the four, while stamping is the most dominant option. Reasons for using each type of metal forming application can vary, based upon many different criteria, including cost.

Despite their differences, these four different types of metal forming are used to create many different things that we use each and every day. Car and airplane parts, buildings and other structures, tools and appliances – the possibilities associated with metal forming applications are endless. While nearly all metals in use today for manufacturing can be formed using these four primary methods of forming, one metal in particular stands out as being the perfect match for extrusion, and that is aluminum.

What Is Stamping?
While many people may be quite familiar with custom aluminum extrusion, it is important to learn about the other methods as well, even if just to compare and see why extrusion is the better option. Stamping uses metal that is in coil or sheet form and it presses it between two dies that create a specific shape. Complex parts can be shaped and the process can be rather quick. Unfortunately, long parts and seamless parts cannot be created using this method. In fact, the largest stamping press in the world can only create parts that are 84-inches in length at maximum and the cost associated with creating an 84-inch die for this purpose is often counter-productive and prohibitive.

What Is Roll Forming?
Many roll formers do not have the ability to produce specific features that add value to the end result. Various elements from other methods are used in the process of roll forming, giving it the ability to create high-volume batches and incorporate other processes within the overall forming process. The length of the parts created is limited by the length of the material that is being fed into the line during roll forming. Cross sections can be created by bending the material into the desired radius. Secondary operations, such as embossing, trimming and hole punching, are often added to roll forming in order to achieve specific results.

What Is Press Brake Bending?
Commonly used in metal fabrication due to low cost and efficiency, the major drawback of this method is that it can only be used to create low-volume orders. Used frequently in conjunction with other formation methods, such as roll forming, many parts created with a press brake started off as parts that were formed through roll forming. Limitations are typically in the length of the part that can be formed through this process, which often requires the use of additional secondary operations in order to join shorter sections together. It is a very hands-on process that requires the constant supervision of the operator, often taking several minutes just to complete a single cross section, adding increased cost to the process and taking more time than other methods.

What Is Custom Aluminum Extrusion?
There are many advantages associated with using a standard extrusion die or designing custom extrusion dies to create a truly custom aluminum extrusion part or product. One benefit associated with extrusion is having the ability to create more than one cross-section at a time through the use of a multiple cavity mold tool. Other benefits include the ability to change the thickness of the walls for each section and the ability to create tight tolerances through the use of precisely manufactured profiles or dies. Creating long sections for truly seamless results is yet another advantage, as well as increased strength and durability due to the effects of the process itself.

To learn more about the advantages associated with custom aluminum extrusion and related post extrusion operations, contact Silver City Aluminum by calling 508-542-7200. We can provide you with a FREE estimate for our services, assist you in the design of custom extrusion dies or help you place your first order. Call today and see why so many businesses and industries rely on our top of the line, high quality custom aluminum extrusion.