Getting Started With Aluminum Extrusions
Durable, lightweight, and corrosion-resistant – aluminum is the metal of choice for thousands of product applications. From transportation to packaging, construction, and machinery, aluminum is found in virtually every industry worldwide.
One of the most common manufacturing methods for aluminum products is the extrusion process. You can think of aluminum extrusions like a Play-Doh Fun Factory – you push material through a die to create a specific shape. Although obviously more complex than modeling clay, extrusion is a relatively standardized process across the manufacturing industry.
Aluminum extrusion primarily owes its widespread use to its versatility, speed, and ability to produce specific and unique designs. From tools to parts and final products, the turnaround time for extrusions is second to none in comparison to other aluminum forming methods.
If you’re looking to get started with aluminum extrusions, you should begin by understanding their basic design, how they are connected for building structures, and how to get them done.
Getting Started With Aluminum Extrusions
Although there is no single kind of extrusion, there are some unifying features that make up the extruded shapes. Most of the time, the extruded aluminum is a square or a rectangle. The most basic construction is a square with a hole in the middle and at least one T-slot for attaching things.
If you want to create a shape with higher aesthetic quality, you might refrain from adding T slots on all sides, but 3D printers and other machines will typically produce slots on all sides.
The measurement scales alternate between metric and inch, but a square profile is commonly referred to as a 20×20 profile (meaning 20 mm on each side). More complex extrusions are formed by joining extrusions together and affixing things to them. If you want a 40×20 extrusion, you can join two 20x20s together. For larger extrusion structures, like a table, you would build a frame to attach to and hold the four legs.
Connecting Extrusions And Accessories
Attaching accessories like a foot or a bracket to extrusions is often similar to joining multiple extrusions together – you can do it by using special nuts that fit inside the T slots. Otherwise, you can use connectors or brackets that do not require nuts.
If the square nuts are thin enough, you can slide them inside the slot and place a tension spring on the nut to hold it intact while tightening the bolt into it. Alternatively, you can thread the bolt and slide the entire thing in the slot.
The only limitation to this method is that the open end of the slot is exposed. If you want to add something between the other nuts, or if the slot is blocked by a bracket, you will have to take everything apart to slide in the new nut. That requires a type of present nut or a rectangular nut known as a T-nut that essentially serves the same purpose.
To add something in the middle of an extrusion where you don’t have access to the entrance of the T-slot, you need a specific kind of T-nut that has an elliptical shape and rotates 90 degrees to get stuck in the slot.
How To Get Extrusions
Sometimes, the cheapest way to do extrusions is to use any leftover materials in the lengths you need and cut them to the desired size. This process will require a precise cut and appropriate tools – like a metal cutting blade or more advanced machinery if you have access to any.
If you don’t have any material at your disposal or need bigger or more complex parts, you are better off contacting a professional aluminum extrusion company that has experience in the process. That will not only get you more precise and professional extrusions, but it will eliminate the hefty costs of ordering the material or dedicating resources to getting the job done.
There are many companies that produce custom, small or large-scale, and fast extrusions for a range of prices. When choosing a fitting partner for the task, make sure they have the necessary resources and experience for your project.
Final Words of Aluminum Extrusions
Aluminum extrusions are the top choice for the production of aluminum parts and products in almost every industry worldwide.
Although there isn’t one distinct design of an extrusion, there are several common features that define it. Extrusions are typically (but not always) square or rectangular, and have T-slots on one or more sides.
They are joined together, or connected with other things, with the use of nuts, connectors, or brackets, which differ depending on the desired outcome.
With the fast-rising popularity of aluminum extrusions, there are many suppliers in the market that offer custom extrusions with a fast turnaround time, making them the perfect partner for aluminum extrusion projects.