There are several industries that are currently expanding their use of custom aluminum products due to the high strength to weight ratio of this versatile material. While some aluminum alloys will have a higher ratio than others, in general, aluminum has a significant advantage over other commonly used metals, such as steel and iron. Aluminum is approximately one-third the weight of steel and iron, which means that the finished weight of a product with similar strength and durability can be much less when constructed with an aluminum alloy. Certain industries can benefit greatly from this advantage, including transportation, consumer vehicle manufacturers, aerospace, and marine. The good news is that aluminum is one of the most common metals on the planet, which also makes it very cost-effective and plentiful for manufacturing.
Why Weight Matters
One of the biggest challenges faced by manufacturers in recent years was to improve fuel economy to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and lower resulting pollution. By making transportation trucks, consumer vehicles, and airplanes lighter, they require less fuel for operation. That also translates to lower costs for transporting goods and people across the country. Improved fuel economy is essential for everything from public school buses to professional fishing boats and just about anything that supports the North American industry. Compared to other metals commonly used in the construction of tractor-trailers, ships, buses, trains, and consumer vehicles, aluminum is very light in weight. However, it is also very strong, which ensures the safety of the goods, people, and operators while improving fuel economy.
Another way that a lighter weight vehicle, plane, or vessel makes a difference is in the amount of freight that it can safely carry while meeting federal regulations. Large items can be shipped on trailers, more goods can be packed into a trailer, and the number of trucks on the road can be effectively reduced without disrupting the supply chain. Lighter weight class A vehicles and trailers can also mean less weight overall, improving fuel economy for independent truck drivers and delivery companies to reduce overhead costs. There are many benefits associated with using custom extrusion dies to take advantage of the inherent qualities of aluminum products. Engineers can assist manufacturers in learning how to prevent corrosion through design for longer lasting and more durable custom aluminum products across the board.
Other Benefits of Aluminum Extrusion
The very method used to create aluminum extrusion contributes to the qualities of aluminum products and their benefit to industry. For example, the process of heating and cooling, stretching and hardening the aluminum after forcing it at more than 10,000,000 pounds of pressure through standard and custom extrusion dies help to maximize the strength of the finished piece. When designers work to prevent corrosion through design, the natural qualities of aluminum products, including a natural resistance to corrosion and heat tolerance, are further amplified. These improvements can make aluminum alloy a valuable material in extreme environments, such as the salty air and moisture of the sea for professional ships and fishing vessels.
Some of the other advantages associated with aluminum include:
- excellent conductor of heat and electricity – while not as conductive as copper, it is a great alternative that can reduce costs for things like power transmission lines, LED lighting, computer motherboards, and other electrical products
- good reflector of both heat and light – aluminum is frequently used for light fittings and rescue blankets due to its ability to reflect light and heat; there are many industrial uses for a material that can effectively provide these benefits
- non-toxic, odorless, and impermeable – there is no taste or smell to aluminum, which is why it is frequently used in food packaging and service; it is also excellent for pharmaceuticals and food preparation in the restaurant industry due to these benefits
- completely recyclable – unlike other metals, which can lose their beneficial qualities when recycled, aluminum can be recycled infinitely without losing any of its inherent benefits; this makes it extremely sustainable, affordable, and easy to obtain for manufacturing purposes
Design Custom Aluminum Products
While there is a definite place for standard extrusion in commercial, industrial, and consumer manufacturing, there are certain advantages to using custom extrusion dies to create unique products, parts, and components. Many customers are able to save both time and money while creating a superior product with custom extrusion. To learn more about designing custom aluminum products, or how to prevent corrosion through design, contact our team at Silver City Aluminum. You can reach our engineers and technicians by calling 508-542-7200 and get a FREE estimate for custom aluminum products and standard aluminum extrusion.