At Richardson Metals, Inc., we’ve provided aluminum extrusions to customers in a wide range of industries for over 40 years. This extensive experience allows us to create extrusions from a variety of grades in different shapes, sizes, and volumes. If you’re wondering how we bring your ideas to reality, read on. Below, we outline the aluminum extrusion process to illustrate how we turn raw aluminum material into finished parts and products.
What Is Aluminum Extrusion?
Aluminum extrusion is a manufacturing process that creates aluminum components with fixed cross-sections. The aluminum billet is first softened and then pushed through a steel die with the desired cross-sectional profile. After the material exits the die, it is cut and cooled into individual long lengths, each of which has the same shape and size depending on the component design.
The next section outlines the full list of process steps in further detail.
Aluminum Extrusion Process Steps
The aluminum extrusion process consists of numerous steps:
- Die design. Before an aluminum extrusion operation can begin, the part or product designer must create the design for the desired component. This design determines the design of the die and if it can be extruded.
- Die creation. Once the component design and die design are approved, the die can be manufactured and
- Die preheating. Once the order is ready to run and the die is ready, it is preheated to support the flow of the metal through the die and placed in the extrusion press.
- Aluminum cutting. Once the die is prepared and positioned properly, solid and cylindrical pieces (i.e., billets) are cut from a larger piece of raw material.
- Billet preheating. The billets are preheated to approximately 900 degrees to improve their malleability.
- Billet loading. The preheated billets are transferred and loaded to the extrusion press.
- The extrusion ram applies pressure to the billet, forcing it into the container of the extrusion press and through the extrusion die. The amount of pressure applied depends on the extrusion design.
- Gas introduction. Aluminum extrusions are susceptible to oxidation. Introducing nitrogen into the die during operations creates an inert environment that reduces the risk of oxide formation. In its liquid form, nitrogen also helps cool the die, extending its service life.
- Emerging onto the run-out table. As the extrusion emerges from the die opening, it is guided onto the run-out table.
- Initial cooling. As the extrusion moves across the run-out table, a water bath or overhead fans help cool it.
- Initial extrusion cutting. After the extrusion partially cools and reaches the full table length, a hot saw separates it from the rest of the material.
- Final cooling. The individual extrusion is moved from the run-out table to a cooling table where it can cool to room temperature.
- Stretching. Throughout the process, the extrusion naturally experiences some twisting. This issue can be corrected by stretching it until it is fully straight and up to spec.
- Final extrusion cutting. Once the extrusion meets the shape specifications, the material can ship in long lengths or can be transferred to a precision saw to cut shorter mult lengths or finished part length.
- Aging. If needed, the individual extruded pieces then move to an aging oven where they are aged to the proper temper.
- Additional improvements. If needed, the extrusions can be subjected to further fabrication, machining, finishing, and treatment operations to improve or enhance their properties and/or achieve the desired dimensions.
Contact the Aluminum Extrusion Experts at Richardson Metals Today
The aluminum extrusion process is used to create various parts and products with fixed cross-sections for a wide range of industries. However, the company performing it must have the process knowledge and skills to execute it correctly to successfully produce the desired extruded components.
At Richardson Metals, our experts have what it takes to deliver high-quality aluminum extrusions for a diverse set of customer applications, from aerospace to telecommunication. For more information about our aluminum extrusion capabilities, contact us today. To discuss your project needs with one of our representatives, request a quote.