Extrusion is one of the most effective methods use to shape metal. Aluminum is the metal that is used most frequently with this type of process. Standard or custom aluminum extrusion is accomplished by forcing heated raw aluminum through a steel die or profile to create a specific shape. The extruded material comes out in a long piece, which can then be cut according to the client’s specifications. While you might not be aware of it, we use extruded metals in many different ways and in many different areas of our lives on a daily basis. Understanding how the extrusion process works can help designers and manufacturers figure out new ways to use it to their advantage.
Getting Started: The Basics
Aluminum extrusion and fabrication gets started with choosing a standard extrusion die or by designing a custom profile to create the desired shape. Once the design is complete, the extrusion process can begin. Raw aluminum comes to the manufacturer in the form of a billet, a piece of material that is in a specific size and weight to help reduce waste. It sort of looks like a log of raw aluminum. The billet is heated to a specific temperature to make it easier for the metal to be pushed through the standard or custom aluminum extrusion die. Pressure is applied to press the metal through the profile – this is what creates the actual extrusion. Working with a one stop shop fabrication service can help you to increase lead times and improve quality control throughout the entire process.
The size of the press and machinery that are used will determine how large the aluminum extrusion will be when it is finished. The size is measured by the longest cross-section dimension. Proper temperature and pressure are vital to the success of the custom aluminum extrusion. Temperature has a lot to do with the finished product, as it provides qualities that are important to extrusion and fabrication, such as the hardness and the finish. Proper design of the custom or standard extrusion die will also affect the outcome, determining how successful the piece or part will ultimately be for the client. Working with a professional company that has many years of experience working with extrusion and fabrication can help.
Cutting the Extrusion: Custom Results
Another way that clients can request custom results for their one stop shop fabrication is to be specific about the desired length of the extruded aluminum. The standard or custom aluminum extrusion will be cut using either a shear or a profile saw, depending on the size of the piece. The metal is transferred to a cooling table, where it can be stretched and straightened or otherwise adjusted as needed. The stretching process helps to enhance the finished product, actually hardening the metal to improve strength and durability.
Once the extrusion is stretched according to the order, the next step is to saw it into the correct length. It is moved to a saw table, where it can be cut at tolerances as small as one-eighth of an inch, depending on the length of the saw. Once cut, they are moved into ovens for heat treating to further harden the metal. Each manufacturer utilizes different techniques, temperatures and timing, according to their knowledge and experience, as well as according to the needs of each client.
At this point secondary operations can be done such as de-burring, through either a tumbling or vibratory process, as well as machining, heli-coiling or even assembly. When clients order extrusion and fabrication, all of this can be specified to keep the process moving to reduce lead time. When working at a one stop shop fabrication facility, the pieces and parts can move straight from the standard or custom aluminum extrusion process on to secondary operations and finishing without having to be transported anywhere else. Finishing options include anodizing, powder coating and painting in a variety of colors, textures and finishes.
Contact Silver City Aluminum for Custom Extrusion
If you are in the market for extrusion and fabrication, look no further than Silver City Aluminum. Located in Taunton, Massachusetts, our team of highly experienced, trained and knowledgeable technicians can provide you with a wide variety of standard and custom aluminum extrusion. As a one stop shop fabrication facility, Silver City Aluminum has the ability to take care of the entire process from the design of a custom or standard extrusion die all the way through extrusion and fabrication and finishing, providing increased quality control and the ability to cut lead times from the industry standard considerably. Give us a call at 508-542-7200 or use our online contact form to begin placing your order.