Initially developed to shape fluid forms in processing raw material, extrusion became one of the most advanced processes in which aluminum is formed into different shapes and sizes. Extruded aluminum offers various advantages for parts and products. For instance, it features natural anti-corrosive properties that can be further enhanced through anodizing and other finishing processes.
This article aims to help manufacturers who fabricate and use their own parts and components maximize the power of aluminum extrusion design.
Factors To Consider in Aluminum Extrusion
The surface-to-volume ratio of aluminum significantly changes throughout the extrusion process. This is achieved by applying compressive forces to the billet using rams, punches, tools, and dies.
Here are the top factors to consider to manipulate aluminum to create more durable and high-quality extruded components:
Type of Extrusion Process
There are two types of extrusion processes: direct and indirect. Direct extrusion is when the ram and the metal flow in the same direction; indirect extrusion is the opposite. A reliable aluminum extrusion provider can easily differentiate which of the two types is advantageous for fabricating a specific component.
The pressure needed to start metal flowing and reduce friction at the interfaces between the billet, die, and the chamber is exceeded by the extrusion pressure. It varies between 800 MPa and 1200 MPa.
In custom aluminum extrusion, friction between the billet and die, or chamber and die, is crucial. To manage the metal flow and lower the amount of power needed for compression, friction is removed or minimized.
Die Type and Design
The elements that form the metal are called dies, and their designs dictate the mechanical operation of the metal during extrusion. Dies for extrusion can be solid, semi-hollow, or hollow.
Extruding high-strength aluminum alloys calls for lubrication to help the metal as it is distorted as the die and the billet slides up against the chamber. Lubricants used for the process are a mixture of glass powder, graphite, and oil.
Types of Aluminum Alloys
Different aluminum alloys call for various extrusion settings, as aluminum alloys are categorized into series according to the primary alloying element. For instance, Alloy 6063 and Alloy 6061 are popular material choices for extruding aluminum alloys because they provide a high-quality finish.
Extruding aluminum in high temperatures — between 375 °C (705 °F) and 500 °C (932 °F) — is known as “hot extrusion.” High temperatures improve the flow of the metal, resulting in flawless extrudates. However, high-temperature extrusion can be disadvantageous in some applications. Thus, you must work with a manufacturing partner who can advise on the best techniques per project.
The billet and die opening cross-sectional area ratio defines the extrusion ratio. Larger deformation results from a higher extrusion ratio. Therefore, a higher pressure must be applied to the aluminum material to decrease the ratio.
Extrusion speed is defined as how quickly metal passes through the die. The extrusion speed should be balanced to keep the metal at the proper temperature. For example, high extrusion pressures are needed for faster extrusion speeds, which raise exit temperatures. On the other hand, slower speeds give the temperature plenty of opportunity to flow and disperse.
The length, shape, and extrusion ratio of the extrudate are constrained for a given billet diameter by the billet length. Additionally, the billet length impacts the necessary extrusion pressure, as the needed extrusion pressure increases with billet length.
Quality Custom Aluminum Extrusions With Richardson Metals
Richardson Metals has provided high-quality and reliable custom aluminum extrusions to various industries since 1980! We prioritize low to medium-production runs with a focus on delivery and customer care.
Contact us today to start working with your aluminum extrusion needs!
Aluminum machining involves cutting, shaping, and forming aluminum to create precise and accurate parts and components. This process has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the material’s many benefits. Its advantages include high strength and machinability, hardness, corrosion resistance, electrical conductivity, heat tolerance, low cost, and overall versatility.
To fully leverage aluminum machining, companies and businesses need to understand the key considerations that can impact the quality and efficiency of this process. This article aims to provide insights into factors to remember when selecting an aluminum machining service provider.
Key Considerations in Choosing the Right Aluminum Machining Services
Here are things to look for when selecting the right aluminum machining partner to produce precision aluminum components and streamline your business operations:
An aluminum machining provider’s quality of work helps businesses get more durable components and boost their reputation among customers. Some factors to look at include precision, accuracy, and attention to detail. Thus, it’s best to look at examples of the company’s previous work or ask for references to get an idea of their level of expertise and specialization.
Modern Equipment and Technology
A reliable and ideal aluminum machining partner would have cutting-edge technology, software, and programming tools. This will ensure that the work is done quickly and efficiently, with minimal to zero errors.
Accurate lead time estimates are crucial for effective planning and scheduling. It also allows businesses to allocate resources efficiently and make solid commitments to customers. Look for a company that can set clear expectations and provides fast turnaround times without sacrificing quality.
Businesses that can produce or acquire high-quality components faster gain a competitive advantage over overtaking competitors in the market. When looking for an aluminum machining service provider, work with one that can handle both low- and high-volume orders. They must also have sufficient equipment and staffing to take on custom jobs.
Look for a manufacturer that offers affordable prices while maintaining the quality of your desired outcome. However, it’s vital to remember that the cheapest choice is often not the most cost-effective option. Thus, find a partner that can strike a balance between affordability and high-quality services.
Responsive Customer Service
The company you work with should be ready to answer any inquiries and update you on the project’s status. A robust customer service system also ensures that any issues that may arise during production are quickly and efficie.
Streamline Your Aluminum Machining Process With Richardson Metals
Selecting the best aluminum machining service can help you out in a competitive market. It allows you to develop unique parts and components and adapt to specific demands and specifications. As such, it’s essential to understand the important factors mentioned above when selecting an aluminum machining provider to partner with.
Partner with Richardson Metals for all your aluminum machining needs! We have an experienced Sales/Engineering team that can address all your needs and specifications. We also have in-house 3-axis and 4-axis machining centers for quick and economical solutions for your prototyping or production requirements. Take advantage of our multi-axis capabilities to reduce costs and improve delivery times!
Since 2021, residents near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, have been complaining about a strange humming sound emanating from the world-famous bridge. This peculiar noise is often heard when winds hit the newly-installed railing slats on the west sidewalk from a slightly off-kilter slant.
The said railing slats were initially established to protect the bridge from damages caused by sustained high winds of up to 100 mph. Engineers have installed these to prevent the Golden Gate Bridge from experiencing the same unfortunate fate as Washington’s Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which collapsed in 1940 — shortly after it was built — due to strong winds.
Existing Structural Specifications
Golden Gate Bridge could originally withstand a maximum of 69.34 mph sustained wind speed. However, it had been repetitively shut down due to powerful winds gusting from 69 mph to 75 mph in 1951, 1982, and 1983. While there has been no damage in the past 84 years, engineers developed new railing systems to help the Golden Gate Bridge endure a maximum of 100 mph wind speed, which is estimated to happen every 10,000 years.
However, since residents have been complaining about the humming sound from the bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge District is implementing new designs to minimize the sound from the bridge’s vibration by 75%. Richardson Metals is working with the Golden Gate Project team to develop solutions to reduce or eradicate the sounds that occur during high wind events with our aluminum extrusion.
To eliminate the Golden Gate Bridge’s humming sound, engineers and leading bridge aerodynamics and acoustics experts have proposed to install thin, U-shaped clips affixed to both edges of all 12,000 vertical slats on the west railing. Thin rubbers will be inserted in these 1/8” thick 6061 aluminum extrusion clips to dampen the vibrations contributing to the bridge’s sound.
Through these clips, “vortex shredding” — the result of small vibrations in the air — will be minimized as they will lightly disrupt airflow as it passes over each slat. In addition, the clips will cover the slats from top to bottom and be painted in the Golden Gate Bridge’s famous International Orange to make it invisible to most bridge users.
Engineers and bridge experts guarantee that this new installation will not negatively impact Golen Gate Bridge’s architecture. The project is expected to be complete by the end of 2022.
Richardson Metals Aluminum Extrusion
The Golden Gate Bridge project utilizes one of Richardson Metals’ most popular grades of aluminum — aluminum 6061. This aluminum extrusion offers good strength, weldability, machinability, and formability, making it a popular choice for numerous applications.
Richardson Metals’ aluminum extrusion is an immensely versatile manufacturing process that produces many components that can be used for various purposes. Aside from aluminum 6061, we also offer aluminum 6063, which provides the finest combination of extrudability, strength, and high surface finishing attributes.
Our products may be applied in the following industries:
Aerospace and military
Sports and recreation
Since 1980, the Richardson Metals team has been true to our commitment to delivering high-quality custom aluminum extrusions to our consumers. We focus on low to medium production runs and offer the following capabilities:
4-1/2” diameter press — parts must fit within a 4” diameter circle and weigh less than 2.5 #/ft.
550-ton RAM press
Thicknesses as low as 0.020” and tolerances as low as ± .005” if required
We can also extrude the following shapes for our aluminum extrusions:
Contact us to learn more about our products! Our dedicated team will be delighted to assist you. You may also request a quote for your custom projects.
Aluminum is popular for various applications due to its lightweight, strength, and corrosion resistance. The mechanical properties of aluminum can be altered using several processes, including work hardening and adding alloying elements; however, one of the most common ways of altering certain grades of aluminum is through tempering.
Since the tempering process can have such a significant effect on aluminum alloys, it’s crucial to understand the various aluminum temper designations and what they mean. This is critical in ensuring you choose the correct material and preventing failures or fractures.
What Are Temper Designations for Aluminum?
Aluminum temper designations denote the tempering treatment of aluminum using a string of alphanumeric characters. The marking follows the alloy designation and a dash, such as 6061-T6, indicating the aluminum alloy “6061,” followed by the tempering designation “T6”. When searching for an application-specific material, it is critical to determine the temper designation. Aluminum tempering is indicated by the following primary designations:
H: Strain hardened
T: Thermally treated
F: As fabricated
The number that follows the letter indicates how the manufacturer performed the tempering treatment. For example, T5 and T6 are both thermally treated, but T5 means that the alloy was cooled from a high-heat shaping process and then artificially aged, whereas T6 means it was solution heat treated before being artificially aged.
Importance of Temper Designations for Aluminum
Variations in the temper designation inform purchasers about nuances that could significantly affect the alloy’s mechanical properties. The temper of certain alloys can impact the appearance of aluminum after anodizing as well as maximize the mechanical properties of heat-treatable alloys. Many standardizing agencies list the specifications of aluminum casting alloys, but the numbers may not correlate across agencies.
Common Aluminum Temper Designation Applications
Several aluminum alloys and temper designations are prevalent throughout various industries. The following temper designation and aluminum alloy combinations are popular in many applications:
2024-T4: Screw machine products, wheels, hardware, fasteners, and aircraft structures
3003-H14: Pipes, pressure vessels, litho sheet, trim, tanks, and equipment for food and chemical handling
5052-H32: Rivets, wire, lighting, appliances, transportation, fuel tanks, and oil and fuel lines in aircraft
6061-T6: Valve parts, valves, appliance fittings, hydraulic pistons, brake pistons, magneto parts, hinge pins, general and decorative hardware, electrical connectors and fittings, marine hardware and fittings, couplings, camera lens mounts, and aircraft fittings
6063-T5: Transportation, irrigation pipes, architectural extrusions, furniture, railings, and pipes
7075-T6: ATV sprockets, defense and aerospace parts, aircraft, keys, worm gears, regulating valve components, missile parts, gears and meter shafts, fuse parts, shafts, and aircraft fittings
Richardson Metals for Your Tempered Aluminum Needs
Aluminum tempering designations are critical in understanding the mechanical properties of various aluminum alloys. Knowing these designations ensures you choose the right aluminum alloy for your particular project.
At Richardson Metals, we specialize in custom aluminum extrusions using grades such as 6061-T4, 6063-T6, and more. With these capabilities, we can meet the needs of various industries including telecommunications, sports and recreation, medical, electronics, construction, aerospace, and military. We have a 550-ton RAM press and can accommodate part sizes with diameters up to 4 inches and thicknesses as small as 0.02 inches with tolerances as low as ± 0.005 inches.
One of the most important considerations when designing an industrial project is the materials involved. With metal alloys, it can be challenging to select the best option because there are so many.
Aluminum is a popular material for a wide range of industrial projects, with an equally vast range of alloys. Aluminum 6061 is one of the most versatile and durable alloys in use today. This guide will discuss the properties, benefits, applications, and types of aluminum 6061 that make it such a highly preferred material.
What Is Aluminum 6061?
Aluminum 6061, or 6061 aluminum, is the world’s most commonly used aluminum alloy. Its primary alloying elements are magnesium and silicon. Aluminum 6061’s heat treatability, easy machining, weldability, corrosion resistance, and strength are desirable properties for many applications. This alloy is also excellent for situations that require anodization, which adds a coating of anodic oxide to protect the metal.
Aluminum 6061 is commonly found in consumer products—bicycle frames, cameras, pins—as well as industrial products like marine hardware, decorative hardware, aircraft parts, couplings, electrical components, valves, and brake and hydraulic pistons.
Aluminum 6061 Benefits and Applications
Aluminum 6061 is also called structural aluminum for its strength in structural applications. Because it is a wrought alloy instead of a cast alloy, it possesses good mechanical properties that allow it to be rolled or forged into various standard and custom shapes. Anodization can add aesthetics, durability, and corrosion resistance to the metal surface.
The adaptability of 6061 aluminum has made it a standard material in these industries:
Sports and recreation
General Properties of 6061 and Common Types of 6061
Pure metals have fixed, limited properties, but aluminum 6061—an alloy of aluminum, magnesium, and silicon—combines the best properties of each element to produce a better metal. Magnesium increases strength, and silicon lowers the metal’s melting point. The hybrid material is stronger and more flexible, and it can be further adjusted to specific needs. The distinct elements of aluminum 6061 cannot be separated, giving it a strength that rivals steel.
There are two main tempers of 6061 aluminum: 6061-T4 and 6061-T6. Aluminum 6061-T4 is aged naturally, whereas aluminum 6061-T6 is aged artificially to enhance its strength.
All 6061 aluminum products have good corrosion resistance, machinability, weldability, and general workability. It is a medium to high strength metal alloy.
Working With Industry Leader Richardson Metals, Inc.
With over 50 years of experience, Richardson Metals has a reputation for providing stellar customer service in custom aluminum extrusions. Because we specialize in low to medium production runs of aluminum 6061 and aluminum 6063, we can deliver premium quality and highly specialized expertise to our customers.
Richardson Metals provides a one-stop shop for designing, engineering, producing, and inspecting services. We maintain stringent quality controls at every stage of the manufacturing process. Learn more about our services, or contact us to see how we can help with your next project.
When deciding on the right aluminum alloy for your extrusion project, you may have questions about how to choose from so many options. However, 6063 aluminum is an easy choice, since it offers good strength, machinability, corrosion resistance, and other desirable properties.
This guide will outline 6063 aluminum’s features, applications, benefits, and types to help you determine if this metal is the best material for your application.
What Is Aluminum 6063?
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Aluminum 6063, or 6063 aluminum, is a heat-treatable 6000 series alloy comprised of aluminum, magnesium, and silicon. Often called architectural aluminum, 6063 aluminum is often soft anodized to create colored, visually appealing architectural structures.
Aluminum 6063 Benefits and Applications
6063 aluminum is known for its excellent corrosion resistance against both chemicals and stress cracking. The alloy is easily welded and machined. Specifically, aluminum 6063 is a preferred material for long structural pieces with a constant cross-section, such as pipes, tubes, angles, and “U” or “L” shaped channels.
6063 aluminum is ideal for architectural applications. Some of the most common applications include:
Truck frames and trailers
General Properties of 6063 and Common Types of 6063
Aluminum 6063 is a preferred material for extrusion because it can be easily pushed through dies to fit various cross-sectional shapes. As an alloy of aluminum, magnesium, and silicon—with trace amounts of iron, copper, manganese, and other elements—6063 aluminum is tough, flexible, workable, and corrosion-resistant. In fact, aluminum 6063 outperforms aluminum 6061 in corrosion resistance.
6063 aluminum comes in two variations: 6063-T4 and 6063-T6. They have similar physical compositions, but their mechanical properties differ due to contrasting tempering methods. Aluminum 6063-T4 is aged naturally, while 6063-T6 is aged artificially to boost strength.
Working With Industry Leader Richardson Metals, Inc.
With over 50 years in the industry, Richardson Metals is a leader in custom aluminum extrusions. Our vast capabilities include a 550-ton RAM press and a circular press that can accommodate parts up to 4 inches in diameter with a weight lower than 2.5 pounds per foot. We can produce tight tolerances as low as ± 0.005 inch and thicknesses as low as 0.02 inch. We specialize in extruding aluminum 6061 and aluminum 6063.
Richardson Metals is your one-stop aluminum extrusion service provider. Our experienced engineers, advanced production capabilities, and inspection equipment will save you time and money. Our manufacturing processes undergo stringent quality controls to ensure finished products meet your specifications.
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.
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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.
Richardson Metals, Inc. has been a nationwide supplier of aluminum, aluminum extrusions, and a myriad of other material components since 1980. With a team focused on product quality and customer satisfaction, Richardson Metals offers custom aluminum extrusions, extruded metal shapes, aluminum machining, and related value-added services like finishing, prototyping, and specialty production. Two of the primary grades of aluminum we use are alloys 6061 and 6063.
Developed in 1935, “Alloy 61,” now recognized as 6061 aluminum, is a common precipitation-hardened structural alloy composed of 97.9% aluminum, 0.6% silicon, 1.0% magnesium, 0.2% chromium, and 0.28% copper. The highly versatile alloy is used for various applications, from aircraft and truck frames to chemical equipment and electronic parts, owing to the key characteristics below.
Strength: The tempering and aging of 6061 aluminum create a stronger alloy, with average ultimate tensile strength ranging from approximately 241 MPa to 310 MPa, and yield strength from 145 MPa to greater than 276 MPa.
Corrosion resistance: Exposure to air triggers 6061 aluminum to form a layer of oxide that protects lower layers of metal and minimizes its reaction to corrosive elements.
Weldability and brazeability: 6061 aluminum is weldable by all methods with the use of appropriate complementary filler alloys to prevent cracking, and is also furnace brazeable.
Workability: Classified as a wrought alloy containing <4% of alloying elements, annealed 6061 aluminum offers good workability.
Machinability: 6061 is the most commonly machined aluminum alloy due to its litany of desirable mechanical properties for the process; it carries a machinability rating of 90% when compared to 2011 aluminum, an alloy known for excellent machinability.
6063 aluminum is composed of approximately 98.9% aluminum, 0.4% silicon, and .70% magnesium, and is a popular option for extrusion. This architectural alloy is used for a range of applications like window, door, sign, and vehicle frames, tubing and piping, electrical and marine components, and more. Its diverse uses are made possible by the key characteristics of the alloy, including:
Thermal conductivity: The alloy has a coefficient of thermal expansion from 21.8 μm/m-° C and displays thermal conductivity from 200 W/m-K to 209 W/m-K.
Strength: Like other 6XXX series alloys, 6063 aluminum undergoes tempering and aging to improve strength, offering average ultimate tensile strength ranging from approximately 186 MPa to 290 MPa, yield strength from 145 MPa to 269 MPa.
Corrosion resistance: The lack of copper in the chemical composition of 6063 aluminum improves corrosion resistance over other 6XXX series alloys.
Weldability and brazeability: Used alongside the correct filler alloys, 6063 aluminum can be welded and brazed using all conventional methods.
Workability: Aluminum 6063 offers greater workability than other 6XXX alloys and is easier to form into complex shapes with high-quality surface finishes.
Machinability: The 6063 aluminum alloy has a machinability rating of 80% compared to 2011 aluminum, an alloy offering excellent machinability.
6061 vs. 6063 Aluminum
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Though the chemical composition and material properties of 6061 and 6063 aluminum are similar and both offer good formability, workability, and are receptive to heat treatments, each alloy provides advantages over its counterpart in specific areas.
For example, the 6061 aluminum alloy offers greater strength and durability and is more machinable than 6063. However, 6063 offers greater corrosion resistance and workability and can be used to produce higher-quality finishes.
When selecting the appropriate alloy for production, the primary factors for consideration will depend on the final product’s integrity and longevity requirements.
Aluminum Guidance From Richardson Metals
Aluminum grades 6061 and 6063 come with a variety of advantages over other aluminum alloys. While similar, the materials have some distinct differences that make them more suitable for specific applications—like structural work for 6061 and architectural finishes for 6063.
For more information on the aluminum services at Richardson Metals or for guidance in selecting the correct aluminum grade for your next project, request a quote or contact us today.