What is Extruded Aluminum?
Creating Custom Aluminum Extrusions
At Eagle Mouldings, we are here to answer questions to help you make the best decisions for your aluminum extrusion projects. Whether you are looking for a custom designed or standard aluminum shape, we will deliver you the highest quality extrusions that will meet your budget and your production schedule. No matter what your extruded aluminum requirements. Our team at Eagle Mouldings are experienced manufacturers and suppliers of OEM and custom aluminum extrusions and trims. Our team is often asked “what is extruded aluminum” and have provided a simple outline of the process for review.
What is extruded aluminum?
Aluminum extrusion is a process used to transform aluminum alloy into shapes with a definitive cross-sectional profile for a wide range of uses. The extrusion process takes advantage of the many beneficial physical characteristics aluminum has to offer. The use of aluminum has become a versatile and stable means of producing simple to complex aluminum shapes. Aluminum extrusions have many uses in architectural and building applications, retail stores, restaurants, signs, vehicles, marine, OEM, electronics, automotive, mass transit, bridge decking, telecommunications, and energy industries.
Where does aluminum come from?
In an effort to explain what is extruded aluminum, we have to start with the material. The metallic element aluminum is the third most plentiful element in the earth’s crust, comprising eight percent of the planet’s soil and rocks. Aluminum compounds occur in all types of clay, but the ore that is most useful for producing aluminum is bauxite. Aluminum comes from the ore bauxite which is mined from many parts of the world. Australia produces more than one-third of the world’s supply of bauxite. It takes about 4 pounds of bauxite to produce 1 pound of aluminum metal.
How to extrude aluminum into custom shapes?
The first step in creating an aluminum extrusion is defining the shape required for its intended use. Designing the required shape begins with creating the tooling and working with a die maker. Extrusion dies can be made to form a limitless variety of shapes and sizes. Combinations of solid, semi-hollow and hollow shapes may be incorporated into a single die. Many factors are considered when creating the die and depend on the final shape, size, and material specifications on how to extrude aluminum into the final intended shape.
The actual production of the aluminum shape takes place at a manufacturer called an extruder or extrusion mill. The extruding company configures the tooling die and extruding press to create the final aluminum profile. The extrusion process uses an aluminum billet or log of aluminum. An aluminum billet is a form of raw aluminum that is heated to a specific temperature where the billet becomes soft and malleable.
The softened aluminum billet is then transferred to the press container, where a lubricant is added to prevent sticking to the extrusion press. The press then forces the aluminum billet through the container by applying significant pressure, squeezing it through the newly created die. The result in a long length of consistently shaped aluminum, the aluminum extrusion, emerging from the other side of the die. The extruded part then passes onto a run-out table where the aluminum has been elongated in the same shape as the die opening. The extrusion is then transferred to a station where the newly created shape can be cooled, stretched, and cut to the desired length.
After the aluminum has cooled it is moved to a stretcher, for straightening and work hardening. The hardened extrusions are brought to a saw and cut according to the final required lengths. The final step is to treat the extrusions with heat in age ovens, which hardens the aluminum by speeding the aging process.
What types of aluminum finishes are available?
When a new aluminum extrusion is created it is known as having a “mill finish” or also referred to as having no finish or “as extruded” finish. Additional finishing processes may be performed on aluminum extrusions to achieve the desired look. The aluminum can have the color, texture, or brightness modified to change the appearance of the aluminum’s finish. Aluminum can be finished by buffing, polishing, straight lining, anodizing, painting or powder coating. Adding a custom finish can greatly enhance the value and appeal of aluminum extrusion products.
Benefits of Aluminum Extrusions
The use of aluminum has become a versatile and stable means of producing simple to complex aluminum shapes. Aluminum extrusions have many uses in Architectural Millwork, Marine, OEM, RV & Trailer Restaurants & Hospitality, Signs, Specialty Vehicles, Store Fixture and Displays, and custom applications.
Because aluminum is strong, resistant to rust and corrosion, easy to fabricate, and 100% recyclable it is often selected as the material of choice for structural and building materials. Aluminum can be easily formed, machined, and cast because of its malleability. Aluminum is a versatile and cost-effective material used in many applications.
Advantages of Aluminum Extrusions
- Affordable – Cost effective material and less expensive than other metal forming processes.
- Attractive Finishes – Aluminum can be anodized, polished, buffed.
- Conductive – Aluminum is a very good conductor of electricity.
- Corrosion Resistant – Protects against corrosion by making a thin reactive layer to oxygen.
- Customization – Aluminum extrusions are the preferred material in product solutions.
- Expansion – Has a large coefficient of linear expansion.
- Highly Reflective – Reflective for visible light and finish options.
- Heat Conductive – Dissipates heat, perfect for heat shielding applications
- Lightweight – Aluminum is about one-third the weight of steel, iron, brass, and copper.
- Low Maintenance – Naturally resistant to corrosion, does not require a protective layer.
- Malleable – Aluminum is easy to form, extrude, and machine into complex shapes.
- Non-toxic – Commonly found material and used safely.
- Paramagnetic – Avoids interference of magnetic fields when used in magnet x-ray devices.
- Precise – Can conform to very tight or close tolerances.
- Quality – Uniform quality when extruded and contains no mechanical joints.
- Recyclable – 100% recyclable. Aluminum can be recycled indefinitely without losing its structural integrity. Nearly 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today.
- Strong – Aluminum extrusions are very strong and a high tensile strength range. Aluminum is very good for cold weather applications and becomes stronger as the temperature falls.
- Time-to-Market – Creating aluminum tooling is easier, reducing lead times in manufacturing.
Eagle Mouldings is a manufacturer, stocking warehouse, and supplier of custom and OEM aluminum extrusions. If we don’t have the extruded aluminum part that meets your specifications, our professionals will help you create and engineer one to meet your needs. Our custom and OEM extrusion services enable us to meet nearly any aluminum extrusion need our customer may have.