Designing for Aluminum Extrusion
Aluminum profiles can provide the solution to many design challenges, including tight dimensional tolerances. The aluminum extrusion process allows for the easy production of complex profiles, intagrating mutliple features. While extrusions can be designed for ease of assembly and joining, often these design features eliminate the need to join separate parts by incorporating mutliple features in a single profile. Integrity is maintained as assembly or joining may not be required, however complex the cross-section may be.
Extruded aluminum's adaptability economically accommodates both form and function.
• Various alloys can be readily formed into complex shapes
• Extrusion tooling is inexpensive
• Lead times for custom shapes or prototypes are relatively brief
• Many different finishes are available
• Recyclability maximizes the life cycle value of the product
Aluminum Extrusion Sample Shape
Below is an image of a theoretical shape created to illustrate part of the range of possibilities provided by aluminum extrusions. Where will your imagination take you? Use this sample as inspiration.
Instructors: A limited number of small shape samples, similar to this example, are available upon request. Contact the ET Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org to request samples for your classroom.
You can also view a video, provided by Sapa Extrusions, that showcases some of the various functions of aluminum extrusions.
The ET Foundation thanks Sapa Extrusions, Inc. for generously supplying the sample shapes for educational purposes.
Aluminum Extrusion Design Parameters
Among the main factors influencing aluminum extrusion design decisions are: proper alloy, desired profile configuration, profile diameter, dimensional tolerances, and surface finish. Driven by end-use application within its specific market sector, the aluminum alloy's unique properties combined with extrusion process variables can influence these design decisions. The most commonly used extrusion alloys with good extrudability, strength, corrosion resistance, machinability, weldability, and formability are the 6xxx-alloy class.
Extrusion press availability:
For those not familiar with the aluminum extrusion process, one important consideration when designing products using aluminum extrusions is understanding the relationship between the size of your profile design and the presses available to produce the profile. Use this handy chart to help you decide the optimal circle size for your aluminum extrusion design. Then review the Capabilities Chart in the online AEC Buyers’ Guide or use the Find an Extruder function on the Aluminum Extruder Council (AEC) website to locate AEC Member extruders that provide the services and capabilities needed to produce your unique profile design.
Aluminum’s Green Attributes
For a material or product to be considered green, it should have low impact on the environment and therefore favor environmentalism—the practice of protecting and conserving the natural environment and its resources. Aluminum is one such material.
What makes aluminum a green material?
Aluminum is recyclable, sustainable, and versatile; three key qualities for any material being used to construct green buildings or structures. Historically, aluminum has proven to be one of the most important materials in successful recycling programs. Aluminum offers high scrap value, widespread consumer acceptance, and aluminum recycling enjoys significant industry support. In addition to recyclability, other eco-friendly qualities that aluminum touts while meeting green building requirements include its light weight-to-strength ratio, which allows for the reduction in weight of materials, and its extrudability, which accommodates off-site fabrication.
To learn more about the green building movement and the role aluminum extrusions play, visit the Features and Benefits page at www.aec.org.