Aluminium extrusion is the process of forcing a substance – in this case aluminium – through a press with shaped apertures cut out of it. This means that the aluminium will take the shape of the aperture and you will end up with a long bar – as long as your piece of aluminium will allow – of aluminium in the desired shape. This long extrusion, known as an aluminium profile, can then be sliced, rather like a loaf of bread, into many smaller lengths, all having the requisite shape and size.
The aluminium is shaped using dies which are tools cut from sturdy steel, into the void of the desired shape. During the process the aluminium is fed into a ‘holding chamber’ called a container. Pressure is applied from behind the piece of aluminium which slowly compresses to fill up the space inside the container. After this, the pressure continues and there is nowhere for the aluminium to go except through the relatively small aperture in which the die is situated, shaping the aluminium as it squeezes through.
The piece of aluminium fed into the extruder is called a billet. The billet must be heated up in order to become malleable enough for the extrusion process without suffering molecular damage. The heating process also plays a part in tempering the aluminium profiles, readying the metal for use in industrial processes or plant building, making it a dual benefit. Following extrusion, the aluminium can be treated according to the needs of the industry in which it will be used, before one of several cooling techniques are applied.
The advantages of using the extrusion process is obvious: it is a quick and easy way to form the aluminium into the desired shape. Also, there is little wastage, as there would be if a stamp press was used – think leftover dough from cutting out biscuits: when the ‘dough’ is aluminium which would need to be remoulded, retreated and reprocessed in order to cut out more shapes, the expense soon adds up.
Another advantage is that once the extrusion machine is engineered, the same result can be achieved over and over again. The die, once created, can be used over and over again, quickly paying for the expense of die-making and becoming more and more profitable over time.
Which industries can benefit from using the extrusion process? Almost any business that needs to supply or use parts that are made from aluminium! Aircraft and vehicle parts can be made from aluminium, industrial sewing and manufacturing machinery will benefit from spare parts being engineered to exact specifications and so on – there are few industries that will not benefit from the aluminium extruding process in some way. Even those businesses that will not need a huge throughput of aluminium parts can still benefit from the process: once the die is made it will last until it is needed again, and will not cost any more money than the price of storing it safely until it is due to be used.
Aluminium extrusion is a relatively simple process, one that can supply any business with the parts they need. Just call us today, tell us your aluminium needs and let us guide you through the whole process showing how your needs can be met.