What is Aluminum Extrusion?
Unlike material removal processes, aluminum extrusion is a forming process. In extrusion, the raw aluminum is first heated and then shaped into the required part using a ram to push it through a die. Aluminum extrusion uses round stocks of aluminum or aluminum alloy, called “billets”, to produce parts with fixed cross-sectional profiles and shapes.
Primarily, aluminum extrusion process only requires a furnace and a press with a die. For extrusion, the billet is first heated to a high temperature to make it more ductile. The temperature might be near room temperature or as high as recrystallization temperature. Based on this temperature, the process is called cold, warm or hot extrusion.
Once out of the furnace, the hot aluminum billet is placed in the press and pushed through the die using the ram. The billet material squeezes through the die generating the cross-sectional profile to form the part. The extruded part is allowed to cool down through a suitable method for the alloy being used.
After production through extrusion, an aluminum part typically requires finishing. Stretching after hot extrusion is a common process to improve the strength of the part. Finishing processes like material removal, anodizing, powder coating, painting, cutting, assembling, deburring and other surface finishing jobs are common for aluminum extrusions.
Some of the parts manufactured by aluminum extrusion include channels with different cross-sections, tubes, profiles, angles and beams. These different types of parts need different kinds of dies. For example, a hollow die for tubing will have a mandrel held in the center with horizontal supports. Such dies first divide the aluminum stock because of the supports but the force and temperature weld them back together to form a hollow tube.
Extruded parts tend to require machining and surface finishing due to the nature of the extrusion process and stresses involved. CNC machining is preferred for removing the extra material and achieving tight tolerances.
The surface finish of aluminum extruded parts depends upon the temperature at which extrusion takes place. During hot extrusion, the material needs to be protected from oxidation to keep the properties and surface finish of the part intact. Surface finishing processes like anodizing, powder coating, painting, and sandblasting are used to create surfaces that have uniform finish and are aesthetically pleasing.
What Materials Are Available For Aluminum Extrusion?
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Prolean offers a wide variety of materials for Aluminum Extrusion including both metals and plastics. Please see the list for a sample of the materials we work with.
If you require a material not in this list, please do get in touch as it is likely we can source it for you.