Design Techniques & Tips: Creating Custom Aluminum Extrusion

Design Techniques for Custom ExtrusionThe more you can learn about how aluminum extrusion works and gain an understanding of the materials that are used, the better you will be at aluminum extrusion design. At Silver City Aluminum, we have a team of highly trained and experienced engineers, designers, and technicians who all work together for our clients. They understand the advantages of using aluminum alloys for certain industries and projects, as well as how to create profiles that eliminate many of the post extrusion techniques required when using standard extrusion dies. Custom aluminum extruders should work to save the client time and money, while also ensuring that they create high-quality, long-lasting pieces.

Which Alloys are Best?

Having a good background in understanding the difference between the various aluminum alloys that we use can be very helpful. Certain alloys work better than others when it comes to the extrusion process. That’s why we choose to work with a selection of alloys that include 6005, 6063, and 6463 in a variety of tempers to provide our clients with the best possible mechanical properties and advantages. When it comes to extrusion, most designers will work within the 6000-series, in particular, alloy 6063. However, it is critical to work with our engineers to determine the best alloy and temper for your unique requirements.

Strength is often the number one concern for designers, depending on what the aluminum extrusion design will be used for by the client. However, while many of the extremely high-strength alloys might seem to be the most appropriate, there can be issues in using specialized alloys for extrusion. One example would be alloy 7075 with a temper of T6. It has a minimum yield strength of 70k psi, but due to its makeup, it cannot be used to create intricate shapes, even with custom aluminum extruders. Other methods can be used to increase strength in an alloy when employing the advantages of using aluminum, such as increasing the thickness of the shape.

Why Choose 6063? – This particular alloy is excellent for aluminum extrusion design, as it lends itself well to pieces that provide a superb aesthetic appeal. It features a good surface finish and is a great choice for shapes that include fine details or thin walls. The advantages of using aluminum alloy 6063 also include easy extrusion, availability of multiple tempers, and features a high resistance to corrosion. When tempered at T6, which is available at Silver City Aluminum, alloy 6063 can provide a 25,000 psi minimum yield and a 30,000 psi minimum ultimate strength.

Smart Design for Better Results

While we talk a lot about post extrusion techniques, some of the design techniques that matter most happen before extrusion even occurs. Experience with aluminum extrusion design quickly teaches an engineer that the most successful shapes are balanced and symmetrical. These shapes help the material to remain straight and hold onto the custom dimensions provided in the extrusion profile. Variations in wall thicknesses can also lead to issues in development, creating distortion throughout the process. Once again, the more you can learn about the extrusion process, the easier it will be to design custom aluminum extruders that provide consistent, high-quality results every time.

Some factors to consider that can result in distortions of design include the variations in how different thicknesses of aluminum will cool. Naturally, the thinner walls will cool and begin to harden way before the thicker walls. This can lead to issues with the design. For best results, experienced engineers recommend that the minimum wall thickness should be at least half the thickness of the thickest wall within the design. Anything less will result in difficulties with consistency, both during the extrusion process and when applying post extrusion techniques, fabrication, and finishing. The size of the shape must be factored in as well to ensure the success of minimum wall thicknesses.

Other potential design issues to consider include:

  • designing to withstand extrusion pressure force to prevent breaks
  • understanding the press tonnage of the force that is used by the manufacturer
  • avoiding narrow shapes with deep gaps to prevent breaks
  • maintaining a depth-to-opening ratio of under 4:1
  • learning about difficult ratio shapes and how to overcome common issues
  • understanding the differences between the different types of hollow shapes

Contact Silver City Aluminum for Custom Aluminum Extrusions

If you are interested in learning more about creating your own aluminum extrusion design or want to know more about the advantages of using aluminum for industry, give us a call. Our team of engineers and technicians can assist you every step of the way in the design of custom aluminum extruders. We can also provide insight into beneficial post extrusion techniques that will help you to achieve your goals. Give us a call at 508-824-8631 or use our online contact form to reach out to our team.