Aluminum extrusion is a metal forming process that creates objects by forcing aluminum through a die. The types of components produced depend on the shape of the die opening; they can be solid, hollow, or semi-hollow.
Aluminum is ideal for making extrusions due to its low density, flexibility, and malleability. These properties make it easy to machine and cast into parts and products that are strong and stable. However, the part and production process must be designed properly to ensure the successful creation of the desired components. Below, we highlight some of the key design considerations to keep in mind when planning an aluminum extrusion project.
Aluminum is available in many variations, each of which exhibits unique characteristics that make it suitable for different applications. For example, AL 6061 is a high strength material with excellent extrudability and weldability, making it ideal for structural components such as vehicle frames and pipelines, while AL 6063 contains magnesium and silicon, making it suitable for interior design and decorative applications. It is important to choose an aluminum alloy that has the properties needed to produce a component that suits the application, whether that focuses on functionality or design.
The thickness of the walls in an aluminum extrusion design affects how quickly the components can be made. Designs with uniformly thick walls are easier to create since the aluminum flows through the die at an even rate. Designs with varying wall thickness are harder to create since the aluminum flows through the die at an uneven rate, which increases the likelihood of the component bending and twisting during production.
Regarding tolerance requirements, the general rule is: the larger the design, the wider the tolerance range required. Other factors that can affect tolerance requirements include alloy used, wall thickness, and shape.
The dies used in extrusion operations are cut using the wire EDM method. As a result, the diameter of the wire used for the die cutting operations can greatly affect the sharpness of the corners; a large-diameter wire creates corners with larger radii, while a small-diameter wire creates corners with smaller radii. It is important to note that corners with radii of less than .005 inches are not possible, so it is best to avoid designing extrusions with very sharp corners.
Flatness refers to the absence of curvature across a surface when measured from side to side (i.e., the width of the component). The tolerance range for part flatness varies depending on whether the component is solid or hollow. Typical flatness tolerances are around ±.004 inches per inch of width.
Straightness refers to the absence of curvature across a surface when measured from top to bottom (i.e., the length of the component). Typical straightness tolerances are around ±.0125 inches per foot of length.
Post-extrusion operations refer to any operations performed after the extrusion has been created to improve its performance or appearance. Tri-State Aluminum takes pride in our ability to meet your fabrication needs. Our Post-Extrusion Operation capabilities include but are not limited to:
- Precision Cut-To-Length
Learn More About Aluminum Extrusions From the Experts at Tri-State Aluminum
Want to learn more about aluminum extrusions? Ask the experts at Tri-State Aluminum! We maintain an inventory of over 2,000 standard dies for various extruded components as well as custom die creation capabilities to accommodate highly specific or unique extrusion needs. Together, they allow us to produce nearly any extruded component our customers request. Equipped with over 30 years of experience providing these services, we can answer any questions you may have about the extrusion process and address any concerns you may have about an extrusion project.