Aluminum Extrusion Features & Benefits
Aluminum’s inherent “green” features of recyclability and sustainability, coupled with its other unique attributes, makes aluminum a versatile material for many applications. But the exciting story of aluminum doesn’t stop there.
The ability to extrude aluminum into complex shapes (profiles) gives designers creative freedom. Where the environment, time, cost, and process repeatability are the important parameters, aluminum extrusions offer a material and process choice that is literally second to none for countless product applications.
Aluminum extrusions have continuously demonstrated to be superior in performance, reliability, and efficiency for a variety of markets–from consumer durables to transportation and from electronics to building and construction.
The recyclability options, combined with the processing of complex shapes and low tooling costs make aluminum extrusions the right choice for countless applications. Aluminum extrusions offer advantages unmatched by other materials and processes. Aluminum extrusions are:
Aluminum is about 1/3 the weight of iron, steel, copper or brass. This makes aluminum extrusions easier to handle, less expensive to ship, and an attractive material for use in applications where weight reduction is a priority, especially in transportation and other applications involving moving parts.
Aluminum extrusions can be made as strong as needed for most applications and, due to the nature of the extrusion process, the strength can be concentrated where it is really needed by including varying wall thicknesses and internal reinforcement in the profile design. Cold-weather applications are particularly well served by extrusions, as aluminum becomes stronger as temperatures fall.
Aluminum extrusions' unique combination of high strength and low weight makes them ideal for applications like aerospace, truck trailers, and bridges where load carrying is a key performance factor.
Aluminum combines strength with flexibility and can flex under loads or spring back from the shock of impact, leading to the use of aluminum extruded components in automotive crash management systems.
Aluminum extrusions offer excellent corrosion resistance because they do not rust, and the aluminum surface is protected by its own naturally occurring oxide layer. This protection can be further enhanced by anodizing or with other finishing processes.
Based on weight and overall cost, aluminum conducts heat and cold better than other common metals, making aluminum extrusion ideal for applications requiring heat exchangers or heat dissipation. Extruded aluminum’s flexibility allows designers to optimize heat dissipation in housings and other components.
Because aluminum is non-sparking, aluminum extrusions are well suited for applications involving explosive materials or taking place in highly flammable environments.
Pound-for-pound, aluminum is twice as conductive as copper, making extruded aluminum a cost-effective alternative for electrical connectors and bus bar distribution components.
As aluminum will not acquire a magnetic charge, extrusions from aluminum are useful in high-voltage applications and in electronics, where magnetic fields come into play.
Aluminum does not burn and even at extremely high temperatures does not produce toxic fumes.
Surface treatments can produce high reflectance on aluminum components, making aluminum extrusion attractive for lighting applications or for applications where it is desirable to shield areas from light, radio waves, or infrared radiation.
Complex shapes can be realized in one-piece extruded aluminum sections without having to rely on mechanical joining. The resultant profile is typically stronger than a comparable assembly, and less likely to loosen or leak over time.
While there are a variety of standard extrusion profiles available, the ability to design a profile to meet specific functional, aesthetic, and manufacturability objectives makes aluminum extrusions a preferred element in many product solutions.
Tooling for aluminum extrusion is relatively inexpensive (see material comparisons) with generally short lead times – facilitating rapid prototype development, testing, and product launch.
Effective design of aluminum extrusions can greatly simplify subsequent fabrication and assembly. There are a wide variety of fabrication processes that are routinely employed in the production of extrusion-based components and assemblies.
Aluminum can be recycled infinitely with no degradation in properties, and aluminum extrusions are often produced with high recycled content — without compromise to aesthetics or functionality. Further, extrusions' inherent properties of light weight, strength, and design flexibility leads to significant in-use benefit to the environment.
Aluminum is the most abundant mineral in the earth's crust, although it does not typically appear in its pure form in nature. Aluminum is derived from bauxite, a mineral mined in several parts of the world, and it was not until 1888 that an economically feasible process was developed for the commercial production of aluminum.
The mined bauxite is crushed and sprayed with water. Clay and silica are removed as by-products and the remaining bauxite is kiln-dried, mixed with soda ash and lime. The resulting mixture undergoes a number of processing steps before being heated in a calcinating kiln. The resultant material is alumina, a powdery chemical combination of oxygen and aluminum.
To yield the aluminum that provides the raw material for the extrusion process, alumina must go first through a smelting and then through an alloying process, during which minor quantities of alloying elements like copper, magnesium, silicon and manganese are added to create specific material properties.
ALUMINUM EXTRUSION MANUAL
191 pages of aluminum advantages, applications, sustainability, design tips, and more!