The term "aluminum extruders" refers to both the machines and the manufacturers that fabricate aluminum products via the extrusion process. Aluminum extrusion is a popular process because of aluminum’s many attributes, which include flexibility, recyclability, durability, high structural strength and a comparably low weight that makes it cheaper to ship and perfect for use with applications with weight restrictions and sensitivities. In addition, it remains strong in cold temperatures in which other metals would become brittle and break, it is non-toxic and non-magnetic, it conducts electricity and it responds incredibly well to alloying.
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Aluminum Extrusion Process
The aluminum extrusion process begins with the heating of the aluminum. If the aluminum extruders are engaging hot extrusion, then the aluminum must be heated until it becomes soft and malleable, or plasticized. If the aluminum is being extruded via warm extrusion, or forging, it must be heated above room temperature to a point at which its ductility is enhanced, but it is not plasticized. Aluminum maintains this form between 800 and 1800?. Cold extrusion is performed at or slightly above room temperature. Cold extruded aluminum proves to be of a high strength, with close tolerances and superior surfaces that require minimal finishing. After the aluminum has been heated, no matter the extrusion process, it is pressed through a die, which is a form that is prefabricated with the desired shape or pattern of the end product. Applied pressure forces the aluminum to fill the die and thereby take on its shape. Aluminum extruders leave the metal in the die until it solidifies and cools, at which point it may be sent off to fulfill its purpose or, as is more likely, it may undergo one or more secondary processes.
Though they may use pure aluminum, aluminum extruders often, if not almost always, alloy their aluminum with something else. Aluminum alloys help manufacturers capture certain qualities contained in another element, and, in general, for the improvement of an item’s mechanical properties. The materials most often alloyed with aluminum include: silicon, zinc, copper, magnesium and manganese. Aluminum extruders must be aware of the fact that different alloys have different heating and cooling requirements; the temperature at which one alloy must be heated in order to become a durable product is not the same as another. Also, while most alloys only require air cooling, some also require water. Similarly, some extruded aluminum can be set in a cooling area or on a cooling table at room temperature, while others must be placed into an aging oven so that they can temper and increase in overall hardness before they can be allowed to cool.
Applications of Aluminum Extrusions
Aluminum extrusions serve a variety of purposes for a nearly endless number of industries. Their largest number of applications reside in industries such as: automotive engineering, construction, commercial furniture, marine manufacturing, food and beverage storage, packaging and household furnishing. Aluminum extrusions provide cars and trucks with interior and exterior trim. They also offer sheet, tube and other shapes for use on bikes, aircrafts, spacecrafts, marine vehicles and trains. In construction, aluminum extruders provide builders with sheathing, building wire, roofing, window frames and more. Likewise, commercial furniture components like desk frames may be made from extruded aluminum, as can display cabinets and light fixtures. Other applications include: food and beverage containers, cooking utensils, street lighting, coins, walking poles and musical instruments.
Secondary Processes for Aluminum
To ensure that a product or products is strong, durable and exactly as a customer needs it, aluminum extruders tweak or customize any aspect or stage of the aluminum extrusion process. Secondary processes that extruders may add include: deburring, finishing, polishing and coating. Deburring is the process by which burrs, which are sharp or undesirable protrusions and metal edges left behind by machining, are removed. Deburring may be accomplished in a variety of ways. Manufacturers can use tumblers, or tumbling barrels, vibratory finishing equipment or disc grinders with or without abrasive media. Finishing processes include etching, anodizing, cleaning and more. Large polishing machines use brushes, wheels or belts to accomplish polishing. Other individual polishing agents include: hand-held wheels, polishing lathes, cloths, belt grinders and others. Finally, coating serves to strengthen, harden, insulate or pretreat a part. Types of coatings include, but are not limited to: teflon coating, powder coating, metal coating, epoxy coating and electrocoating. To figure out what type of aluminum extrusion and process is right for your application, contact an experienced aluminum extruder. He or she can guide you to the right extrusion style, the right alloy material choices and the right decision regarding secondary processes.