Best Aluminum Extrusion Products & Manufacturers

An important cog in the wheel of the manufacturing process of aluminum parts, good extrusion can mean a great finished product. In this article, we get you familiar with what extrusion is and some of the best aluminum extrusion products.

What are aluminum extrusions?

Think of piping bags used for Christmas cookie decorations or squeezing toothpaste through the tube. The extrusion is simply pushing heated metal through a die to achieve the desired cross-sectional shape of aluminum. These shapes can range from hollow, semi-hollow, or solid, depending on the requirement of the manufacturer. The finished goods are used in every industry imaginable. Keep reading to find out how these goods are all around you.

aluminum extrusion

Where is it used?

If you think this innovative technique is only used in construction, think again. The transportation sector, automobile air conditioners and heaters, coaxial cabling, and protective shielding from harmful rays are just some of the few uses of extrusion. The furniture industry, telecommunications sector, home decor, bathroom fittings, and many other sectors would not be functional if it wasn’t for the AE procedure.

For instance, in the auto and vehicle industry extrusion is used for car chassis, roof rails, and components of boats, trucks, and buses.

Owing to the concerns around emissions from vehicles and improve mileage, automobile engineers are moving towards using AE for designing lightweight cars and vehicles that can give better fuel economy and even keep the environment in mind.

But apart from such complex uses, you can see AE products all around you if you look hard enough. Whether it is the window railings you glance out of or the equipment at the gym, most everyday objects can only be finished after going through the AE process. Even the monkey bars at the playground have been a part of this factory process.

Why is it so popular?

Since dies are versatile and many shapes can be extracted from it, there are thousands of end products that can be made after going through the extrusion process. But first, let us take a look at why these metal alloy products are so popular in the first place.

Features
Strength Thermal and electrical conductivity Versatility
Lightweight Corrosion-resistance
      1. Strong

Aluminum was known to be the most precious metal before the discovery of gold. This was due to its undeniable strength. It’s suitable for a variety of temperatures around the globe. Even the winter cold can’t break this metal since it only gets stronger as the mercury drops.

circle aluminum extrusion

      1. Lightweight

Only weighing one-third of the weight of steel, this alloy is surprisingly lightweight, considering its high strength and durability. There is no wonder that 29 million tons of aluminum are in demand each year globally.

      1. High electrical and thermal conductivity

After alloying with other elements, it can be a great conductor used in conductor electrical cables. It is often the first choice of engineers since it is one of the lightest engineering metals found in nature. A good example of its thermal conductivity is the foil used in packaging food and keeping it warm for a long duration.

      1. Corrosion-resistant

Why did steel and aluminum become so popular? Because of iron’s property to rust quickly? These alloys have a top layer of oxide which protects them from rusting. After anodizing, this bad boy is good to go rust-free for a lifetime.

      1. Versatile

Not only is aluminum highly malleable and ductile, but it can also be made to look as you desire. Processes of painting, anodizing or polishing can give it the finishing you wish to achieve.

What is it used to make?

Now that we know how resourceful the alloy is, let’s take a look at all the several industries it is used to make lightweight, durable products.

      1. Construction

Here is a field where the uses of extrusion finished products are endless. For instance, frames of structures are commonly made from channel extrusions of aluminum, thanks to their lightweight properties. This can include both permanent and temporary structures, for example, sheds and greenhouses.

But it’s not just in the big framing of outdoor structures that this alloy comes in handy, rather it’s in the fine details that go into the construction and design of a home or office where you’ll also find plenty of these products. For instance in the making of a sliding door or foldable furniture.

Moreover, it is even used in the equipment used in DIY projects. For instance, t-track channels are used as safe and sturdy components of a drill press, jigs, and router tables.

Its weather-resistant property makes it perfect for outdoor fences, railings, and awnings. Not only will such products last longer throughout all seasons, but they’ll also look good while doing their job.

      1. Electronic and electrical engineering

As mentioned above, the thermal and electrical conductivity of this metal is spectacular, which makes it a fine choice for a range of electronic parts. You’ll find the AE technology plays a major role in the making of power units, computer casings, laptops, and even everyday cell phones. The glamorous LED lighting you’ll find in high-end shops and malls is also a result of the AE process.

In 3D printers, Robotic engineering, and Laser engraving machines, you are likely to find the use of the 2020 or 2040 v-rail profiles. This is because even the small 20x20mm size is very tough and durable. The larger 20x40mm and 20x80mm sizes can be used for more complicated machinery.

Often t-slots can also be used for the same purpose. The only difference that remains between a T-slot and a v-slot is the shape of the grooves on its edges.

Additionally, the excellent thermal conductivity makes for smart engineering of solar panel systems and heat radiators.

      1. Transportation

Since auto companies are always looking for lightweight materials in the manufacturing of heavy-duty vehicles, the AE process comes as a relief for many. Not only is it used in aerospace engineering to produce small lightweight parts, but also in the common RV to make for easy transportation in all kinds of weather, without any worries of corrosion or damage to its chrome finish.

      1. Display set-ups

You must have come across those fancy exhibitions showing off luxury products and wondered to yourself, ‘how did they assemble this so quick?’. Well, the answer is extruded material. These pieces can interlock, fold, lock, and pop to assemble and disassemble all over again. The best part – all showpieces look great while displayed in these display units since their silver finish is spectacular.

How is it made?

Ever wondered how this complex but extremely useful product is made? For your convenience, the full step-wise process of aluminum extrusion is explained below.

  1. Preparation of the Die – You’re gonna need the tube to get the round toothpaste out. Similarly, the die is your mold to get the cross-sectional shape of the metal you require. Consequently, an H13 steel die is prepared or ordered from a warehouse and preheated for use.
  2. The billet is preheated and transferred – A billet is made from aluminum and is shaped cylindrically. Before loading into the extrusion press, it is preheated at a temperature between 400-500 degrees which makes it just enough ready for the molding but not enough to melt. A lubricant is applied and the billet is transferred into the press.
  3. The ram pressurizes the billet – Now the hot and extremely malleable billet is pressurized by the hydraulic ram with 15000 tons of weight. This forces the billet to fit inside the container and take its shape.
  4. The Die – Next, the continual pressure pushes the content material into the die and takes its shape. The ram keeps pushing the weight until the billet has fully molded to the die’s dimensions and comes out through the opening as the desired profile.
  5. Puller and cooling – As soon as the profile comes out from the opening, it is handled by a puller running at matching speed to guide it on the runway or runout table. Water and fans on this runway are used to cool the profile in an even manner. This process is also known as quenching.
  6. Cutting- Now that the profile has exited onto the table, it must be sheared according to the table length. A temperature-controlled saw is used to cut through the profiles which are still hot, despite the quenching.
  7. Cooling – Now the transfer takes place from the runout table to the cooling station. All profiles will remain here until they reach room temperature. This is crucial for the next step of extending and shaping to occur.
  8. Straightening and shaping – Even though the process described above is thorough, some natural twisting occurs that aligns the profiles out of shape. To tackle this problem, the profiles are moved to a stretching station where they are pulled from both sides by machine hands. This results in completely linear profiles.
  9. Sawing – On this station, the profiles are sawed according to the industrial dimensions required for sale. This can be anywhere from 7ft- 22ft.
  10. Tempering – This whole process has led to the making of profiles that are T4 in temper. Now according to the market requirement, they are moved to the oven and brought to T5 or T6 tempers.
  11. Enhancement through heating- As mentioned in the previous step, the T4 profiles, which have a tensile strength of approximately 240MPa, can be heat-treated in the oven to increase their overall yield stress and strength. This leads to the more load-bearing capacity of the metal which can further be used in the production of more heavy-duty equipment or construction. For instance, heating to achieve the T6 temper means achieving the tensile strength of 310 Mpa.
  12. Finishing – These profiles are famous for their stunning appearance due to their ability to be open to options of painting, powder coating, and sublimation. However, all this is only possible after the process of anodizing has taken place. Anodizing involves enhancing the already present oxide layer on the profiles. This makes them weather-proof and rust-resistant. After this step, you’re free to style your metal as you please!
  13. Final detailing – This consists of any drilling, cutting, or grooving that your product requires. Any kind of accessories or screws and bolts can now be adjusted for in this final step.

What’s the price?

The average price paid by USA and Canada companies for a 6063 aluminum extrusion across the USA is $0.78 per LB. While the highest price paid by all USA and Canada companies for the same extrusion is $1.10 per LB and the lowest price paid is $0.45 per LB.

If we specifically look at T-track prices, most brand’s price tags end up in a similar range. T-tracks are available in dimensions between 1ft. to 12 ft and each foot will cost you around $4.50. Custom-made tracks with a different lengths will have different pricing.

To go into the details, let’s compare the most popular brands.

Which are the most popular products and brands?

Let’s take a look at all the common extrusion products and their best manufacturers.

      1. IXGNIJ’s 2020

20×20 t-slots are some of the most commonly demanded products in the market and many brands manufacture them. However, Amazon’s bestseller remains the 10 pieces 1000mm anodized rail by the brand IXGNIJ. The rails come in choices of two colors: black and silver. The product is rated at a whopping 4.5 stars on Amazon.

      1. Bella Bays Anodized black linear frame

With a stupendous rating of 4.4 out of 5 on Amazon, Bella Bays’ 10 pieces 20×20 anodized black beauty is hard to ignore in the market. Not only does it meet all European standards, but is even compatible with M3, M4, M41, and other accessories. Unlike other brands that only sell for the 3D printer market, this resourceful product can be used on workbenches, furniture, gym equipment, and other DIY projects you might want to take on. The best part – you can get this versatile frame for just $111.99 on Amazon! Unbelievable!

      1. ZYLtech Black 2020

But a brand with even more stars on Amazon is the ZYLtech Black 2020. Priced at just $109.99, this high-strength rail features the 6063-T5 alloy for maximum solidity. Established in 2015 as a home-based company, ZYLtech may be relatively new in the 3D Printer parts game but rose to fame quickly due to its high-quality products.

Other popular products offered by the brand include the 2040 T-slot, 2040 V-groove, and 3030 T-slot. The brand also offers some good combos that are popular on Amazon like its 10M Combo Silver 2020 t-slots that come with 48 angle brackets, 100 screws, and 100 hammer nuts. Now isn’t that a sweet deal?

      1. Faztek’s T-slotted light extrusion

If you’re looking for a real deal instead of buying bulk, this fully corrosion-resistant 4 LB T-slot could be the right match for you. Although it is priced at $27.84, the five-star rating bespeaks value for money. Customers agree that although on the pricier side, the prime shipping, durability, and easy assembly make it worth the price.

Beginning as just a T-slot provider seventeen years ago, Faztek quickly jumped ship to other products as well and became a large-scale industrial solutions company. Now they have established their own niche product lines of customizable steel products as well as electronic devices. Their electronic device range features interlock switches, laser curtains, and pressure-sensitive mats to name a few innovations. Needless to say, Faztek knows its way around the smart metal industry.

      1. Socell T-Nuts – 180 pieces

Accessories for the above products are a must and what’s better than a bulk deal on nuts for the 20-series aluminum profiles. You can buy 60 pieces each of the M3, M4, and M5 range at just $8.99. If you’re concerned about quality, the composition material is carbon steel and is even plated with nickel for a rust-free long life. Socell even offers a 3 month warranty period, so you can return the product if not satisfied. But the chances of that seem unlikely, given this combo set has a rating of 4.8 stars on Amazon.

      1. Hotop T-Nuts 150 pieces

This combo pack is also rated Amazon’s choice and is priced at just $7.99. The included pieces are 150 M5 t-nuts or you can choose the M3 variety if that’s what you’re looking for. You can also visit the HOTOP store on Amazon and shop for other highly rated garden, patio, home, and kitchen equipment.

All products are reasonably priced, for instance, the Aluminum welding rods include thirty pieces priced at just $7.99.

      1. PZRT profile connector set

There simply cannot be a more value-for-money pack in the market than this one! The bonanza deal includes twenty pieces of corner brackets, forty pieces of M5x10mm nuts, and forty pieces of M5x10mm hex socket cap bolts. Rated at 4.6 stars, this amazing deal is priced at just $26.99. The nickel finish ensures all accessories are completely weather-proof.

You can imagine its strength when we tell you that not only can it be used in home and office equipment, but also ship assembly.

PZRT also sells other top-rated accessories like profile hinge installation kits, L-shaped joint plate bracket kits, and straight-line connectors. All these are budget-friendly and priced in the range of $8-$30.

      1. Iverntech corner brackets

Corner brackets are some of the most used accessories used in framing and construction. One example of this would be glass sliding doors. Well, now you can get a sweet deal on 4 pieces of 78x78mm brackets for 20×20 profiles at just $17.99. You can also buy different sizes at similar prices.

Other products in the Iverntech store include 2040 and 2020 V-type rail profiles priced between $22.99 and $27.99.

Why is it called 80/20?

The 80/20 name has become an example of genericization like the brand Hoover or Kleenex which have now become the namesake of the product they endorse. The originating manufacturer of aluminum extrusion was called 80/20 Inc. But why this name was chosen involves an interesting tale that dates back to the 19th century.

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle, was inspired by the work of Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto was an engineer, sociologist, and philosopher from Italy. He devised the ‘law of the vital few’ which stated that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

Soon enough, this law caught on in many fields. To observe a simple example, the top 20% of earners pay 80% of the income tax. In business, it was seen that 80% of the company’s results are directly a cause of 20% of its efforts.

Now isn’t that an interesting bit of trivia?

Are aluminum extrusions strong?

While they are extremely popular for their variety of cross-sectional shapes, this alloy’s strength is what made its popularity blow over. If seen in terms of tensile strength, which is a unit dedicated to assessing the amount of load a material can take before it breaks, aluminum rates highly.

6063 is the most common alloy used for extrusion and its tensile strength ranges from 145-186 Mpa. The top-level temper of 6063-T6 has a high tensile strength of 190MPA.

But even with this capacity, it remains lightweight. This is evident when you note that aluminum with 276MPA strength has a density of merely 2.81gcm-3. Thus, it becomes the primary factor in its usage in outdoor structural framework and integral parts of heavy-duty construction machinery.

That’s it, folks!

Aluminum extrusion products are all around us and through this article we’ve tried to give you the full guide to their making, pricing, and properties. You can even check out some of our product recommendations and let us know how you liked them. With other alloys like steel in the market, it can be tough to make a final choice for your project. But we’ve tried to highlight the type of projects that aluminum is perfect for – construction, transportation, display equipment, electronic equipment, and more. Make sure to consult a professional if you’re just beginning your DIY journey.

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