Aluminum extrusion is the process of transforming aluminum alloy(s) into a specific cross-sectional profile. Remember using the play-doh® shape maker? Just a squeeze on the handle and the doh would come out whatever shape the plastic faceplate was. Aluminum extrusion is made in a similar fashion but with the added element of high heat and high [hydraulic] pressure. Aluminum has many unique physical characteristics, which makes the extrusion process very practicable. Its malleability allows it to be easily machined or cast, while aluminum’s structural rigidity offers strength and stability. For these reasons, aluminum is used for a wide range of purposes!

When selecting an aluminum extrusion, consider the following:

  • How it will be used
  • Machining requirements
  • Surface finish and overall finish
  • Operating conditions

Uses of Aluminum Extrusion

Today, aluminum extrusions are utilized in a variety of industries including automotive, medical, food, architectural, and more. Depending on how it will be used, aluminum extrusion can be tailored for different needs. Aluminum offers high conductivity of heat and electricity, which makes it ideal for radiators and air conditioners. It also has a low weight to high strength ratio, making it perfect for aircraft, cars and railway coaches. Because aluminum is corrosion resistant, it can be used in exterior, mining and military armaments. Aluminum is also used for wiring and cables, due to its non-magnetic properties.

Machining Requirements

There is no material more suited to high speed machining than aluminum. Most alloys are typically machined with common high speed steel or carbide tooling. Cutting, drilling or milling slots, holes or pockets are easily achieved using minimal coolants and tool lubrication due to the silicon content of many aluminum alloys.

Surface finish

Surface finishing is the process of enhancing the properties of aluminum. Surface treatments can modify the surface of the metal in many ways, including hardness and abrasion resistance, alter its appearance, decorate the metal, assist the adhesion of paint, varnish and bonding adhesives, and provide further protection from corrosion while imparting a durable appearance.

Hot and Cold Extrusion

Operating conditions directly affect the life of aluminum. For instance, temperature has the largest effect on aluminum. The extrusion process can be done with the material hot or cold. Hot extrusion is done above the material’s recrystallization temperature to keep the material from work hardening and makes it easier to push the material through the die. Cold extrusion is done at room temperature, which allows for higher strength, good surface finish and fast extrusion speeds.

Framing Tech Profiles

Our profiles typically utilize the alloy 6063-T6 for the best combination of strength, machinability and high-aesthetic, clear anodized finish.

Chris Hill is the President and CEO of Framing Technology, Inc. Connect with him on  and Twitter.