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The Best Tips for a Successful Extruded Aluminum Project

by | Jul 05,2022 | Aluminum Extrusion

Aluminum is still one of the most remarkable metals for manufacturing purposes. Aluminum Extrusion is a technique used to get this metal in the shape we need without too much effort. In the following lines, we're discussing tips to make your aluminum extrusion project more viable, less expensive, and better compliant with your clients' needs.

First of all, it's important to remember that aluminum is a mineral that needs to be mined and smelted to work on it. Aluminum is easy to ship, and it's highly valued because of its strength-to-weight ratio. You can mold and shape aluminum way easier than most metals out there. Aluminum can take very complex shapes or easygoing designs without issues.

For the past two years, the aluminum extrusion industry has seen a decline in use. It's a widespread effect related to the pandemic and supply chain issues faced in every corner of the planet. Now that vaccines are becoming widely available and restrictions are being lifted up, we're seeing a new increase in the use of aluminum again.

However, not all is good news. The supply chain issues are still affecting most industries. Aluminum extrusion projects are no exception. Here's some advice you can apply to your projects to get them done faster. Keep in mind that aluminum-built products have longer lead times. The more we do to streamline the process, the quicker we can get things done.

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Go for a simple design

Extruded aluminum tubes and some shapes call for 6061-T6 alloy. This type of aluminum is widely available, and most designers are familiar with it. If you do a quick search online, you'll notice how 6061-T6 has great quality ratings based on its machinability and balance. This choice proves to be a less costly alternative, although you can still go with other options such as 6063-T6, which is easier to extrude.

By using 6061-T6, you get a productivity increase of nearly 10%, depending on the design. This also makes the project cheaper to produce for the extrusion mill. If you go with 6063, you can see how fair is rated in machinability. You get better finishes and excellent extruded conditions even with the lower strength. Both choices offer a great look after being anodized. Just make sure to study which version suits your project before getting started.

Reduce the metal present in the design

Take steps to reduce the amount of aluminum present in your project. By reducing the amount of aluminum in the design, you can get things done faster. The tips to follow here have more to do with logistics, such as reducing the wall thickness by an inch of diameter tube. You can go from 0.050" to 0.040", which results in almost a 20% reduction of aluminum weight in the tube.

The only downside you can face while taking these steps to reduce the wall thickness is that you'll have to tweak the design. There's also a high probability that a new extrusion die is required. You have to crunch some numbers on your end, but the cost of a new die needs to be weighed against the need to purchase less aluminum in the long run.

Begin ASAP

Remember that leading times for extruded aluminum take at least eight weeks long. Many mills face lead times that go over 20 weeks with some projects. For many mills, tooling times for new projects take over five weeks or more, and this only happens if the mill has a die and you require specific extrusions. Even the most overstaffed mills are not accepting new customers. Since the world's economy seems to be picking up the steam, it's even possible that some mills are sold out for the rest of the year.

Get a quote and secure your spot

We're still getting up to speed, and the truth is that aluminum extrusion and machining take time. Mills are bustling machining, painting, and anodizing all their extrusion orders. The planning for lead times on machining and coating takes almost four weeks for each process, and expediting can get expensive. At the moment, demand is high, and everyone wants everything fast. The sooner you move to get a quote, the faster you get a notion of the time to get things done. Don't forget: more demand increases the prices!

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