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Aluminum Extrusions Guide

Aluminum extrusion is a manufacturing process in which aluminum is forced through a shaped opening in a die. Once the target material emerges from the die, it takes the die’s shape.

This technique allows manufacturers to transform aluminum alloy into customer-specified objects with clear cross-sectional profiles. Manufacturers use both direct and indirect extrusion methods to produce aluminum and aluminum alloy objects.

Aluminum’s unique physical properties enable it to bring several advantages to the extrusion process. Aluminum is a highly malleable and versatile metal, which mean that it can be easily machined and cast. Additionally, aluminum has about one third of steel’s rigidity and density, enabling it to offer a balanced combination of manufacturing flexibility and strength. Alloys with other metals can reinforce or enhance specific characteristics.

Selecting Between Extruded Aluminum Alloys

Tri-State Aluminum has more than 40 years of experience as a full-service supplier of custom finished aluminum extrusions and fabrications. Our production capabilities run the gamut from engineering design guidance to extrusion, cutting, fabricating, finishing, and packaging.

When other elements, such as copper, magnesium, iron, silicon, manganese, and zinc, are added to pure aluminum, it creates an aluminum alloy. The process requires up to 15% of the other element to be thoroughly incorporated into hot, liquid aluminum. The purpose of introducing other elements allows the aluminum to take on additional qualities, primarily for added strength.

Types of Extruded Aluminum Alloys

Types of Extruded Aluminum AlloysAt Tri-State Aluminum, we work primarily with four of the many grades of aluminum alloys: 6063, 6463, 6005, and 6061.

Aluminum Alloy 6063

The most economical and widely used, 6063 has superior extrudability. With very good corrosion resistance and finishing response, it also is readily welded, machined, and formed. Examples of the many applications that utilize 6063 aluminum alloy include:

  • Heat sinks
  • Window and door frames
  • Electrical tubing
  • Irrigation system pipe and tube
  • Handrails and furniture
  • Architecture and construction products

Aluminum Alloy 6463

Aluminum alloy 6463 can only be formed using aluminum extrusion. Since 6463 is roughly 98% raw aluminum, heat-treating increases the strength of the aluminum while lowering the ductility. It can be polished to a mirror-like finish and is primarily used for decorative trim in architectural applications in the form of bars, tubes, rods, wire, and other custom shapes.

Aluminum Alloy 6005

When high corrosion resistance and moderate strength is required, 6005 aluminum alloy is indicated. It has excellent extrudability and is very bendable, excluding it from applications where heavy loads are possible. It can be easily formed, machined, and welded. A few of the applications for 6005 aluminum alloy are:

  • Ladders
  • Automotive applications
  • Seamless and structural tubing
  • Handrails

Aluminum Alloy 6061

This alloy is the second most popular extrusion behind 6063. It has superb strength, corrosion resistance, and machinability. It has good formability and weldability, but does not respond well to finishing. For that reason, it is typically used in transportation and structural applications.

Key Considerations

Understanding how your product will be used is the most useful guide for ranking the characteristics of aluminum alloys to find the one that most closely fits your needs. When choosing the aluminum extrusion for your application, several key factors are considered:

  • Corrosion resistance: Will the finished product be subject to the elements?
  • Heat treatment: Will your application require significant strength for high loads?
  • Density: Does the final product need to be lightweight and easy to shape?
  • Strength: Does your product have a complex shape but also need to be designed to withstand stress?
  • Aesthetics: Will the product be used for decorative purposes?

Quality Fabricated Aluminum Products in New Jersey

When you need a full-service supplier of extruded aluminum alloys, Tri-State Aluminum has the capabilities to save you time and money. Our services include design, extrusion, cutting, fabrication, finishing, packing, labeling, and shipping. For custom extruded aluminum, your concept is realized with our capable engineering and manufacturing team, but it remains yours.

We look forward to partnering with you on your next project. Whether you need standard aluminum extrusions or custom ones, we can provide it. Contact us today for more information. Alternatively, you can submit an online request for quote.

What is the Anodizing Process?

At Tri-State Aluminum, we produce aluminum products and custom extrusions for a variety of industries in New Jersey and throughout the East Coast. Many of our most popular aluminum manufacturing services include anodizing, which changes the surface of metal parts using an electrochemical finishing process. It converts the exterior layer of aluminum into a durable, corrosion-resistant surface that can also be aesthetically pleasing.

The Anodizing Process

The anodizing finishing process involves multiple steps that electrochemically change the composition of the metal surface:

1. Cleaning

Before the anodizing process starts, dirt, grease, and other contaminants must be removed from the surface. Most manufacturers completely submerge the workpiece in water and/or a mild alkaline or acidic solution to clean the parts.

2. Pretreatment

If the finished product will have a decorative function, the next step is for the manufacturer to pretreat it.

Two popular pretreatment options are:

  • Bright Dipping: This gives the piece a shiny appearance.
  • Etching: This process creates a matte, satin-smooth finish.

3. Anodizing

Once the metal has been cleaned and pretreated, the manufacturer will position the piece in an electrolytic bath. Next, the solution is charged with a negative direct current (DC) via electronic plates inside the tub. When the metal is charged, positive ions are drawn out and negative chromic, phosphoric, or sulfuric ions from the solution are transferred to the metal to “fill in” the resulting ionic gaps.

There are four basic anodized types:

  • Type I: Chromic acid creates a thin layer of protection around the metal part.
  • Type II: Sulfuric acid is used to create a thicker layer around the part than Type I anodization. Type II metals also take on colorants better.
  • Type III: This type is like Type II, but it produces an even thicker anodized layer. Sometimes this process is also called “hard anodizing.”
  • Type IV: This finishing process doesn’t follow the same procedures as the other three types and technically doesn’t require anodization. However, the service offers many of the same attributes as an anodized finish, which is why we’ve included it in this list. During Type IV processing, manufacturers coat a metal part with Alodine® to create a protective chemical film.

4. Coloring

There are two different ways to color anodized metal:

  • Electrolytic Coloring: During electrolytic coloring, the metal part is coated with colorants while the surface is still absorbent. After the dye is absorbed, the manufacturer puts the piece into a bath with metal salt deposits to seal the color. The results vary based on the dye and metal substrate that are used.
  • Integral Color: This method takes place simultaneously during anodization when colorants are added to the electrolytic bath. The process is more expensive than electrolytic coloring, but it imparts additional abrasion-resistance and can be used to create brass, bronze, or black hues.

Aluminum Anodizing

Anodizing is commonly used to protect aluminum parts against corrosion, surface-level damage, and abrasions. The resulting aluminum oxide layer is more durable than untreated aluminum, which is why the process is often used to finish exterior parts. The coating is permanent and creates an attractive surface without obscuring the luster or texture of the metal.

At Tri-State Aluminum, we take the following factors into consideration when helping our clients choose the right anodizing type and coloring options:

  • If the product is intended for indoor or outdoor use
  • What type of color the client wants to create
  • How much UV radiation exposure is expected
  • Additional property requirements, like the desired material hardness and durability

Anodized aluminum parts can resist wear, won’t corrode over time, and can be used for architectural finishes such as doors, window profiles, light fixtures, and appliance parts. In general, the industries that most commonly benefit from aluminum anodizing include:

  • Sporting goods and recreation
  • Aviation
  • Automotive
  • Appliance manufacturing
  • Commercial and residential building
  • Infrastructure construction
  • Industrial sector
  • Consumer goods manufacturing

Choose Tri-State Aluminum for Expert Aluminum Anodizing

Aluminum anodizing is a multi-step finishing process that creates a durable, tough, and corrosion-resistant surface layer on aluminum parts. It can also be used to change the color and texture of metal parts to create a more attractive design. If you need aluminum anodizing, parts finishing, or other extrusion services, contact Tri-State Aluminum today or request a quote online. We’re proud to serve clients throughout New Jersey and in every state east of the Mississippi River.