As an abundant and cost-effective material, aluminum features a broad range of uses in metal fabrication. Aluminum provides an ideal material for extrusion thanks to its excellent ductility and workability. In the extrusion process, metal gets enclosed within a cavity and forced through the opening of a die, causing the metal to take on the profile shape of the die.
Through extrusion, metal fabricators can create continuous shapes with a variety of cross section options, such as tees, bars, angles, and more. The long pieces can then be cut to length based on order specifications.
Common Aluminum Extruded Shapes
At Superior Metal Shapes, we can customize extruded aluminum shapes for virtually any application. Some of the most common shapes we create for our customers include:
- Hollow shapes
- Multi-void hollow shapes
- Tubes (round, serrated, rectangular)
- Zee bars
Applications & Industries
Aluminum extrusion creates an array of consumer and industrial products used in an expansive range of applications. Some examples of industries that rely on extruded aluminum parts and goods include:
- Aerospace. Aerospace manufacturers must find ways to develop low-weight parts without sacrificing durability and strength. Aluminum alloys have become very popular for creating aerospace parts and components in recent years for their ability to reduce overall aircraft and spacecraft weights. Extruded aircraft parts may include decorative components in the cabin, seat parts, lighting components, and much more.
- Firearms. Aluminum alloys have gained traction over steel for firearm components and ammunition due to their lighter weight and high strength in comparison with traditional steel. Extruded aluminum firearm bodies and other components help to significantly reduce firearm weight without sacrificing performance.
- Medical. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of medical equipment and devices have begun to recognize the value of aluminum for various non-internal medical parts and components. The extrusion process creates high-quality aluminum tubing, wheelchair components, and many other parts for medical solutions.
- Lighting and interior design. Custom aluminum extrusions are well-suited for creating components used in lighting fixtures and other interior design or architectural solutions. Some examples of extruded aluminum parts used in these applications may include hinges, light fixtures, trim, and other aesthetically pleasing visible pieces.
- Manufacturing. The industrial sector relies heavily on extruded aluminum for safety solutions, machine components, and much more. For example, many facilities rely on extruded aluminum machine guards to keep employees safe. Many carts, workbenches, tables, and other common factory equipment also have extruded aluminum components.
- Transportation. Weight is a big concern for the commercial transportation sector. Commercial vehicles and heavy equipment designers often focus on reducing vehicle weight to allow the vehicle to carry more and improve fuel efficiency. Applications for extruded aluminum alloys are virtually endless in transportation, with use cases including recreational vehicles, automobiles, semi-trucks and trailers, and much more.
Benefits of Aluminum for Extruded Shapes
Aluminum extrusions are popular across the above industries and many others because of the many benefits this material offers, such as:
- Low weight. At approximately 1/3 the weight of other metal options like steel or brass, aluminum extrusions offer a variety of weight-related conveniences for users. Extruded aluminum parts help to reduce vehicle weights, lower transportation and shipping costs, and improve fuel and energy savings.
- Strength. Despite their low weight, aluminum alloys have a high strength-to-weight ratio that makes them a viable replacement for steel in many applications. The strength of extruded aluminum makes it an excellent choice for load-bearing aircraft and vehicle components where weight reduction is a priority, but sacrificing strength is not an option. The strength of aluminum improves further in cold temperatures, making extruded aluminum parts well-suited for cold-weather and high-altitude operation.
- Efficiency. Aluminum extrusions can help to shorten lead times by removing time-consuming steps from production. One aluminum extrusion can replace several machined components that would otherwise require welding to connect them. When multiple extrusions are required, designers can create interlocking extrusions that still avoid costly and time-consuming welding processes.
- Corrosion resistance. When exposed to oxygen, aluminum forms an oxide layer on its surface that acts as a protective film to prevent corrosion and rust. This property helps to mitigate costs associated with expensive coating, cleaning, and maintenance processes.
- Thermal conduction. Aluminum and aluminum alloys conduct cold and heat well. This makes aluminum extrusions a good alternative to copper when manufacturing components used in heat exchangers, fabricating heatsinks, parts that need to dissipate heat, and more.
- Non-sparking. Aluminum extrusions are often selected for use in non-explosive or non-flammable equipment solutions since aluminum alloys won’t generate sparks when in contact with other metal components.
- Non-magnetic. As a non-ferrous metal, aluminum has no magnetic properties. This makes it well-suited for use in high-voltage components, computers, and other electronics.
- Non-toxic and recyclable. Aluminum won’t burn and doesn’t emit any toxic vapors when exposed to high heat. It can also be recycled over and over indefinitely without degrading or losing any of its beneficial properties.
- Workability. Aluminum makes an ideal extrusion material because of its malleability and ductility, which facilitate excellent compatibility with not only extrusion, but virtually all fabrication and machining processes, including cutting, drilling, and various finishing processes.
Extruded Aluminum Shapes at Superior Metal Shapes
Aluminum alloys are highly compatible with most fabrication processes, which makes aluminum an exceptional material for creating extrusions. Extruded aluminum is used across industries for its low weight, easy workability, and wide availability.
At Superior Metal Shapes, Inc., we don’t just stop at the extrusion process. We strive to provide end-to-end fabrication solutions for our customers. Our experts can offer engineering and design assistance to help you get your project off the ground, as well as an extensive range of in-house and outside finishing services to help you simplify vendor management.
The Superior Metal Shapes team draws on more than 35 years of experience to ensure that we meet and exceed the expectations of our customers on every order. Our AS9100 and ISO 9001:2015 certifications ensure that every order meets exceptional standards for quality.