History of Aluminum Extrusion

Aluminum extrusions are used in quite a few aspects of our everyday life. From our cars, to the buildings we work in they all contain some sort of extruded aluminum. But, where did it come from? When did the extrusion process start? How did it come to affect our daily life? Read on to find the answers to these questions and more.

Origins of The Extrusion Process

First patented by Joseph Bramah in 1797, the extrusion process' first purpose was for manufacturing lead pipes. Bramah conceived a process involving pre-heating metal and forcing it through a die manually using a hand-driven plunger. At the time of its creation the process was actually called, “squirting” and was done by manual power until the construction of the first hydraulic press was completed by Thomas Burr. By the end of the 1800's, the extrusion process was being used with brass and copper alloys as well. The process wouldn't be applied to aluminum until the 20th century. 

Origins of Aluminum

Aluminum was first discovered in 1807 but wasn't refined successfully until 1825. When it was first discovered and refined, it was considered a precious metal, and at the time, was even more valuable than gold. It wouldn't be until the end of the 19th century when the smelting process was invented by Charles Martin Hall and Paul Héroult and commercial production was developed from it.

Extruded Aluminum Becomes A Reality

However, aluminum would not be used for extrusion until the hot extrusion process is invented in 1894 by Alexander Dick. The hot extrusion process allowed even non-ferrous (or non iron containing) alloys to be used in the extrusion process. The first aluminum extrusion press was created in Pennsylvania in 1904 which resulted in a rapid increase of applications for aluminum in both the automotive and construction industries.

This ever increasing rise in demand for extruded aluminum reached its peak during the two world wars. For use in the manufacturing of aircraft along with other military applications. The uses for extruded aluminum continued to expand after World War II and began to move beyond just industrial and automotive applications. It was quickly introduced into the now growing residential housing market due to the increase in wealth after WWII.

Since then, the uses of extruded aluminum has continued to expand and can be found in most aspects of our everyday life. From the subway cars we ride in to the car we drive, extruded aluminum is everywhere. Even the staples that you use to hold together multiple pages of a report is extruded aluminum.

The short time that aluminum has been used in the extrusion process, the metal has seen exponential growth in development, and has continued to revolutionize the way we live. As we continue to find new purposes for extruded aluminum in our space exploration programs and continue to find more uses for it here at home, aluminum extrusion will continue to play an important part in our lives now, and in the future.


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