Aluminum extrusion is a rather complicated industrial process that involves pushing of aluminum through uniquely shaped dies to create desired shapes. Extrusion is the only means of getting sophisticated cross-sections of aluminum.
Usually, there are two extrusion processes- hot or cold. In hot extrusion, the material is first heated to just above its recrystallization temperature. The high heat softens the metals, and makes the process of pushing it through the die a lot easier. In cold extrusion, the temperature of the metal is not altered. Aluminum can be extruded using either of these two processes, depending on the resources at hand. Its important to note that there is warm extrusion too, which operates below the hot extrusion temperatures, but above the cold extrusion ones. Notably, cold extrusion is sometimes preferred because it gives a final product with a smoother surface finish.
The determining factor in extrusion is the final shape that is desired. With a precise shape in mind, it is possible to jumpstart the extrusion process. But there are some other limiting factors that have to be appreciated. Some of these include the shape of the metal used, whether or not it is alloyed, and the pressure available. Regarding this last mentioned point, pressure is most important in a cold extrusion process, where more of it is obviously needed. It is possible to start pushing the aluminum through the die, and fail to complete the process due to insufficient pressure.
Regulation of speed is one of the most important things in aluminum extrusion. It’s the reason most companies rely on a computer-controlled extrusion press, as it is more likely to operate at the most suitable speeds. A high speed extrusion process will increase friction, leading to cracks on the surface of the final product. The die also needs to be properly maintained, as it can lead to line formation on the aluminum if residues are present in the die. As a rule, the final product of an extrusion process should be without blemish, that is, both the internal and external surfaces should be smooth, without so much as a crack.
Aluminum extrusion is used for the creation of heat sinks, tracks, frames, mullions, tubes. Most companies that invest in the making of aluminum extrusions usually make customized products, so all you need to do is present your specifications. In any case, most companies avail a catalogue of shapes for you to choose from.
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