Aluminium Extrusions a worldwide success story.
Aluminium extrusions and Aluminium extruded profiles with fabrication solutions throughout a vast range of markets. Aluminium extrusions are everywhere from buildings to medical equipment all can be supplied by SIMMAL aluminium extrusions a true success story.
Medical - from simple aluminium extrusion trunking system to critical applications in intensive care.
Office furniture - from the design of turnkey aluminium extruded solutions to the manufacture, supply fitting and assembly of workstations and screening systems.
Automotive - from safety critical aluminium extrusions for braking applications to high tech, high spec, high visibility dashboard components.
Building - toilet cubicles, roofing systems, partitioning, showers and retail.
Leisure - from TV legs to tent pegs and street signs to venetian blinds.
One of the main advantages aluminium offers over other metals is that it can be used to make complex components. Through a process called ‘extrusion’, aluminium can be made into complicated shapes with corners and protrusions without the need for joining parts at a later stage. This versatility, in conjunction with aluminium’s unusual properties (light weight, corrosion resistance, conduction etc.) means that aluminium extrusions are used in a vast array of products, including cars, aircraft, lighting, furniture, light fittings, and machinery components.
Aluminium extrusions involves pushing or drawing aluminium (or rather, an aluminium alloy) through a die, which is a cross –section of the aluminium extrusion you want to create. The extrusion process, when used in conjunction with other processes such as heat treatment, allows you to create aluminium extrusions for almost any requirement.
But when designing aluminium extrusions, there are many important factors to consider. Here, we provide a brief guide to aluminium extrusion design considerations:
Choice of Alloy
Obviously, the metal you choose to mix with aluminium is going to have an impact on your extrusion design. The properties of your alloy will vary according your choice of metal and the percentage mix, so you need to choose an alloy that will provide appropriate conductivity, strength, resistance to corrosion, weight, durability, and reflectivity for your needs. Just as importantly, you need to understand the properties of the alloy you create, as some alloys may be strong, but cannot be made into complex shapes.
Thickness of Sides
The easier it is to extrude your design, the less costly the process will be. For this reason, it is better to try and keep the ‘walls’ of your design a similar thickness as this is simpler to achieve. However, there are certain situations where varying thicknesses are required, for example, to ensure suitable strength, so you need to factor in the extra difficulty and cost of producing such extrusions.
There are also practical reasons for keeping the sides of your aluminium extrusion of a similar thickness – if the alloy is extruded unevenly through the die, the extrusion may be misshapen or cracked.
As a general rule, the thickness of the slimmest side should be at least half the thickness of the thickest side.
Shapes and Symmetry
Similarly, the more complex a shape is, the more difficult it is to extrude, and so this can lead to higher costs. Where possible, try to design simple shapes that are symmetrical with only gradual changes in the thickness of their sides. You should also think about whether your design needs to be solid or hollow, as this can also affect the simplicity of the extrusion process. Often, hollow shapes are easier to produce than solid ones, but this is not always the case.
You may also find that it is more cost effective to create two or more sections that can be assembled after extrusion instead of creating a single, complex extrusion.
Another design consideration is that aluminium extrusion cannot create sharp corners, and so the corners of your design need to be rounded. Rounded corners are easier to extrude as the aluminium alloy can work its way through rounded corners much more readily.
If angled corners and shapes are needed, you may be able to achieve this by using cut-outs.
Aluminium alloys can be treated to provide different finishes, such as a dull, brushed appearance or a shiny, reflective finish. When creating a aluminium extrusions design, you should consider the type of finish you require and also make sure to clearly instruct the extrusion company about which sides of the extrusion are external, as it is these surfaces that will need treatment.
A major consideration you need to make when designing aluminium extrusions is how the extrusions will be assembled. The most common types of joints are hinges, screw ports and clip fits, the latter of which is frequently used to minimise costs.
Usually, the more complex your design, the more expensive it will be to extrude the aluminium alloy. However, the low cost of tooling means that creating aluminium extrusions is often considerably cheaper than casting.
Simmal will be able to advise you on appropriate alloys, finishes, and assembly options and also help you to realise your extrusions design as cost-effectively as possible.
If you are choosing an external aluminium extrusions designer, you should make sure they understand the 6000 series of alloys. These are the most commonly used alloys and will most likely be the most cost-effective option for your requirements.