Select Page

Aluminium Extrusion – Everything you need to know

Extruded aluminium can be formed into any shape or size. It’s so popular and versatile that around half of all the aluminium we process and ship is extruded. If you’re after round bar, square bar, flat bar, or hexagonal bar aluminium, they’ve all been extruded. Here are answers to some of the most widely-asked extruded aluminium questions.  

 

by | Sep 29, 2020 | Aluminium, Aluminium Extrusion

Aluminium Extrusion – Everything you need to know

Aluminium extrusion causes alloys to be formed into any shape or size. It’s so popular and versatile that around half of all the aluminium we process and ship is extruded. If you’re after round bar, square bar, flat bar, or hexagonal bar aluminium, they’ve all undergone aluminium extrusion. Here are answers to some of the most widely-asked aluminium extrusion questions.

What is aluminium extrusion?

Think pasta! Aluminium extrusion is similar to hand-made pasta. You place the metal in a special press. It gets pushed through the cut-out die you’ve chosen or created. Then it comes out of the other end in the shape of the die. The technique is used to transform everyday aluminium alloy into objects with a defined cross-section, created for specific uses. The extrusion process itself taps into the metal’s unique characteristics.

How does aluminium extrusion occur?

First you design the die in the shape you want to extrude the metal. Then you heat a cylinder of aluminium alloy to 800°F-925°F before transferring it to a loader and adding a lubricant to stop it sticking to the extruder machine or anything else. A great deal of pressure is then applied to a dummy block using something called a ram, which rams the aluminium into the container and onwards through the die.

aluminium extrusion

We don’t want oxides to form, so we let liquid nitrogen – or nitrogen gas – flow through the die to create an safe, inert atmosphere that also boosts the lifespan of the die itself. The extruded metal is the same shape as the opening in the die, and that your ‘extrusion’.

When the metal has cooled down we can straighten and harden the aluminium extrusion, and cut it to the right length. Then we heat it all over again to speed up the hardening process. If we need to create something more complex, maybe customise the design, we can do clever stuff like make hollow sections, or add mandrels inside the die to make unusual profiles. Finally, we can change the colour, texture and brightness of the final item, and may even anodise or paint the surface.

Who invented aluminium extrusion?

The history of extrusion goes way back to 1797 when Joseph Bramah patented the first ever extrusion process, designed to make pipe from soft metals. In 1820 Thomas Burr used the same process to form lead piping, using a hydraulic press that was also invented by Bramah.

Why was aluminium extrusion invented?

Aluminium extrusion is a reliable way to make a huge variety of standard and unusual shapes for use in many sectors. Extruded aluminium alloys help manufacturers make parts with specific qualities. You might need aluminium parts to be particularly strong, or unusually resistant to corrosion, or have a very complex profile. Aluminium extrusion achieves all of this and more.

What purpose does aluminium extrusion serve?

Aluminium itself is famously workable, and different die designs mean a multitude of profiles are possible. The metal is malleable but also strong, so is perfect for structural and mechanical projects. It resists rust and corrosion, simply oxidising a little to form a protective coating. Aluminium is 100% recyclable and can be recycled infinitely. It’s often surprisingly cost-effective and looks amazing. It conducts heat and electricity beautifully and weighs very little, roughly a third the weight of steel but equally strong.

In a nutshell, the purpose of aluminium extrusion is to provide lightweight extra strength and resilience to an extraordinary variety of vital products and objects.

What are the common uses of extruded aluminium?

Aluminium’s high strength-to-weight ratio makes it ideal for cars, aircraft, bicycles, boats and trains. Light vehicles use less fuel, so using aluminium saves petrol. Its remarkable strength means vehicles made using it can carry much heavier loads.

Alloys that have undergone aluminium extrusion are used to make attractive, rugged in-store and point-of-sale retail  displays. It’s harnessed widely in the construction industry to make beautiful, durable panelling, lighting, and the many different types of extruded parts used to create facades.

The metal’s excellent conductivity – twice as good as copper – means it’s popular for power systems and mounting systems across many sectors. Military and defence are large consumers of extruded aluminium, used for anything from military vehicles to landing mats and temporary structures. And the extruded metal forms an essential part of the International Space Station, namely the tubing used for the trusses that link the different bits of the station together.

What affects the price and supply of extruded aluminium?

The price and supply of the metal itself affects the availability of extruded aluminium most of all. If we have aluminium, we can extrude it! The metal’s cost depends on many factors including the cost of electricity, vast amounts of which are needed to smelt the metal. If the cost of energy goes up, so does the price of aluminium.

New innovations also have an impact. Take air travel. Aircraft manufacturers are under massive pressure to invent planes that emit less CO2, and one way to do that is make them even lighter. The resulting aim to cut the amount of aluminium used in aircraft manufacture from 50% to 20% will have an impact on demand, therefore on the market as a whole.

The construction industry, another huge consumer of extruded aluminium, is volatile at the best of times and more so than ever before thanks to Covid-19.  This affects supply and demand, which in turn impacts the price of the metal.

When we see low production stocks along with intense construction activity, high demand and low supply push prices up. The cost of the raw aluminium itself varies along with economic changes, fluctuating exchange rates, trade wars, political difficulties between nations, and cyclical recessions.

Only one thing is certain. As long as the metal is used by monster industries like construction, transport and the military, the cost of extruded aluminium will keep on fluctuating alongside them.

To learn more about aluminium extrusion, follow this link.

Need extruded aluminium?

Walk this way for expert help and support, great prices, fast supply and a great working relationship you can rely on.

Please complete the enquiry form located on this page, call +44 (0) 330 223 2653 or email us to discover how Metalex could be supplying you with premium metal products and professional metal processing services.

The latest from the blog.

The state of British steel, metal asteroids, LME chaos and more

Welcome to 2023, which is already looking turbulent.  The nation’s steel industry is still in a state of perma-crisis, there’s trouble brewing at the London Metals Exchange, and people are doing crazy things with dangerous loads of metal. But we’re keeping calm and...

High-polluting US aluminium, Cumbria coal mine lies, good recycling news

In a week where the USA’s ageing aluminium plants have been slammed for emitting more PFCs per ton of the metal than other countries, there’s plenty of metals supply news to showcase.In a week where the USA’s ageing aluminium plants have been slammed for emitting more...

Aluminium supply special – Anti-dumping issues, bankruptcy and more

2014 aluminium round bar, 6082 aluminium square bar, 7075 aluminium plate and more... we’re still selling it, and our customers are keen to buy it. But there’s trouble in the world’s aluminium supply sector. In our aluminium supply special we’ll take a look at a...

Russia metal supply headaches, seaweed batteries, eye-watering steel prices

It’s interesting to see two tricky problems hitting the metals supply world particularly hard. Russia’s war on Ukraine is having unexpected consequences for steel and aluminium, and tough climate change goals are shaping the future of metals as well as the products...

Rusal scandal, radiation-proof aluminium alloy, amazing batteries

There’s a scandal erupting over Rusal and the LME; new aluminium alloy brings space travel a tad closer; batteries are about to be taken to an exciting new place; aluminium is finding its way into drinking water and there's more trouble for UK steel. It’s all go as...

Aluminium special – Rusal threats, raw aluminium market fears and more

To say it’s up and down in the world of aluminium at the moment may be a little bit of an understatement. The energy crisis is affecting supply and demand in surprising ways; Rusal are driving uncertainty about uncertainty; Raw Aluminium orders are down in the US;...

It’s madness in the world of metal supply – But we’ve got your back!

The energy price crisis, Russia’s war on Ukraine, a looming shortage of crucial metals... it’s all go out there. As trusted metal supplies experts, we’re weathering the storm. Whatever happens we’ll bring all of our considerable expertise into play to source the metal...

Smelters shut up shop, Novelis refuses Russian aluminium & Honda secures metals supply.

The war in Ukraine carries on, the economy is tanking, energy prices are rocketing and we’re headed for an almighty recession but what’s happening in the world of metal supply? Let’s explore some stories about metal innovation and discovery and the latest metals news,...

Asteroid fail, copper-jawed mini monster, lithium-ion gets a boost

Japan bombed an asteroid... and nothing happened. Old-school copper wiring is enjoying a speed boost thanks to cool science. Copper-rich bloodworm jaws build themselves, and the process is completely amazing. Plus - electric car charging might be about to become a lot...

Robots inside you, sensitive robotic hand, fibre-optic spying and more

As aluminium suppliers we’re always interested to hear weird science stories about the metal. As popular steel suppliers in the UK, we like tall steel tales just as much. As the summer holidays rumble on, we’ve discovered a bunch of fascinating metal-inspired stories...

Accreditations & Associations

Aluminium Stockholders Association

Quick Enquiry

Leave this field blank

CALL METALEX NOW ON
0330 223 2653