Custom extrusion is a process that produces products of a specific shape by pushing material, usually aluminum or plastic, through a pre-made mold. It’s like pushing toothpaste through the tube’s end. Several good qualities can be found in custom extrusion. For example, since it only applies shear and compressive stresses to metal, one can employ alloys and brittle materials using this process. Most importantly, cross-sections that are very complicated and would otherwise really be highly impractical become possible with custom extrusion.
Aside from aluminum and plastic, one can also use other materials, such as ceramics and concrete, on a frequent basis. The resulting pieces of custom extrusion may be as long as what’s necessary. Strengthening a metal is even possible using this process.
Can custom extrusion also form complicated shapes, such as a hollow center, or carry out a hole flanging process? It’s viable, yes. However, the die should have a shape profile that’s capable of supporting the central section since one can’t make the cavities with just a simple flat extrusion die. Along the die’s length, the shape has to change internally, too. The material will flow around the support pieces as it’s pushed through. It will also fuse together on the other side.
The most common materials used for custom extrusion are aluminum and plastics. Check the types of aluminum and plastic extrusion here: https://prototechasia.com/en/custom-extrusion-common-types-of-aluminum-and-plastic-extrusion. You can also learn more about them below.
Custom Plastic Extrusion Manufacturing: What Is It?
Raw plastic materials are heated and melted in custom plastic extrusion. The colors, finishes, and rigidity of plastics (commonly small pellets) can be modified during the process using specialized additives, such as UV inhibitors and colorants. To ensure that the material will be at the ideal state, the applied heat is controlled, and the heat coming from the extrusion machinery is monitored.
Pressures and friction are applied to the material as it moves through a heated barrel. The mixture turns into a molten state in the process. Any particle that didn’t achieve the proper consistency will, then, be removed by screening the material as it exits the heated barrel. The screening process eliminates the polymers’ rotational memory to allow the material to achieve a new shape while removing any tendency of it returning to its original state. Any contaminants will also be removed after the material has been screened.
The extruding process, then, begins. This is when the material will be forced through a die to create one, long trim product or molding. The extruding process is what creates the profile shape. A specialized die shape can be designed and developed depending on the needs of the manufacturer.
The plastic will, then, undergo a controlled cooling process after it gets extruded and once the profile shape is formed. The cooling process makes the packaging of the product possible by reducing the plastic temperatures.
Applications Of Custom Plastic Extrusion
Custom plastic extrusion has several applications. The ability of custom plastic extrusion to achieve extremely long lengths is one of the reasons why it’s being utilized. The extreme durability that gives it its long lifespan and allows it to only sustain little damage despite repeated impacts is another thing that attracts manufacturers to this process.
Indeed, what really makes custom plastic extrusion an ideal solution is the complexity of customer applications that come with it. Add to these applications the wide variety of benefits that it also brings.
Aluminum Extrusion: What Is it?
Another commonly used material in custom extrusion is aluminum. However, it is quite a simple process of creating shapes. To create one cross-section profile, for example, a custom extrusion profile will be used in producing a specific form. Like when using plastic, the aluminum will also be pushed through a die or steel profile after getting heated to a specific temperature.
This process will make the desired shape, while also strengthening the metals and adding to the finished piece the benefits of aluminum products. Using custom profiles, manufacturing costs will be considerably reduced through extrusion.
To increase the life of the finished product, manufacturers will have to work with a reliable company that can provide top-quality aluminum fabrication and extrusion. Doing so will also provide the manufacturer with better quality control and, of course, results.
Custom aluminum coating solutions and other special finishing, as well as custom fabrication processes, can also be added after extrusion if the manufacturer desires. Custom aluminum coating solutions are vital since they provide an additional protective layer despite aluminum already having a natural layer of protection from corrosion. Custom aluminum coating solutions include painting, anodizing, and powder-coating, which actually also improve the product’s look, feel, and texture.
Aluminum Extrusion And Its Advantages
Aluminum brings many advantages that only a few options can actually match, although custom extrusion can use many other materials. Aerospace, automotive, and other industries that prize a lightweight material will surely find aluminum very desirable since it’s only a third of the steel’s density. The overall weight of aluminum can actually be reduced even further since the extrusion process doesn’t require any excess metal when fitting materials to exact specifications.
The good thing about a metal aluminum is that it still retains an incredible strength-to-weight ratio despite being lightweight and very low density. Aluminum can even be four times as strong as stainless steel, not to mention the extrusion process can also make it even stronger.
It’s pretty easy to cut aluminum to the desired lengths or take long extrusions from it without the need for any special cutting tools. That means that aluminum’s strength doesn’t cost machinability, which should be an essential consideration for manufacturers. Non-magnetic nature, extended durability, sleek appearance, and excellent weldability are other benefits of this material.
What Makes Aluminum So Well-Suited For Custom Extrusions?
Some further reasons exist on why custom aluminum extrusion should be considered by manufacturers when designing a product, aside from the benefits already listed above. For instance, aluminum can withstand even the most hostile environments because it’s actually being protected by an oxide layer on its surface. That said, resistance to corrosion is easily aluminum’s greatest characteristic. The oxide layer will even repair itself if the metal’s surface gets damaged, adding to its appeal.
In marine environments, other metals can actually be quite susceptible to corrosion, but not aluminum. It simply has a natural resistance to it.
However, it’s essential to take note that not all types of corrosion can be resisted by aluminum. It’s actually quite susceptible to galvanic corrosion. What’s galvanic corrosion? It takes place when an electrolytic bridge forms because of two different metals coming in contact with each other. When aluminum is utilized in conjunction with other metals, galvanic corrosion will affect it since it’s usually the least noble metal.
Will this be a problem? Not really since manufacturers can do something about it. With smart manufacturers already understanding that it’s going to be the case, they can customize their design in a way that minimizes the risk of galvanic corrosion as much as possible.
Aluminum also allows for greater versatility since it’s extremely simple to extrude because of being highly malleable. It’s one of the most malleable metals that the heavy industry regularly uses. Also, since aluminum is easy to use, manufacturers can enjoy greater savings. Aluminum is actually easier to work with when compared to other metals, such as steel.
Why should you consider custom extrusion?
Custom extrusion, whether it’s using plastic or aluminum, is extremely important in manufacturing, but why should you consider it in purchasing products in the market? Check out the reasons below.
Products made from custom aluminum extrusions generally last longer when compared to products made from other materials. The characteristics of aluminum play a role in this. Aluminum isn’t only extremely strong, but is also corrosion-resistant. Aluminum extrusion products can be used in nearly any environment since they can adapt to both cold and hot temperatures.
No matter how you look at it, aluminum is one metal that’s going to give you your money’s worth, no doubt why those who trust aluminum extrusion products rarely get disappointed with the final result.
Still in the case of aluminum, aluminum extrusions are easily accessible, and it’s definitely one of the main benefits of choosing them in the market. You can easily find suppliers because of aluminum being one of Earth’s most commonly mined materials. There’s simply no shortage upcoming. It’s vital, however, that you carefully find or choose vendors, making sure that one best meets your needs.
The vendors you’ll select should have the ability to process and perform an inventory of the products that you need. They should also have some deep-rooted knowledge when it comes to the custom extrusion process. Of course, they should be able to provide excellent customer service, too.
Environmentally And Economically Friendly
When you consider the attributes of aluminum, you’ll understand why it’s very affordable. It’s one of the most abundant metals on Earth, which, perhaps, is one reason why it has an attractive price. Weight and fabrication savings also result from each production run during the custom extrusion process, allowing a custom die to actually pay for itself when it comes to the cost of tooling it up.
Manufacturers can easily find someone who would be willing to take aluminum for recycling if ever the need for eliminating it from a job site arises. When you compare aluminum to other metals on Earth, it, indeed, stands out as the more environmentally friendly option because of it being easily recyclable.
The strength of aluminum can be concentrated wherever it is needed. The nature of the process of extrusion allows for varying wall thickness in the profile design. Internal reinforcement is possible, too. That’s why one can make aluminum extrusions as strong as needed, depending on its targeted application. It’s also essential to note that this metal becomes even stronger as the temperature falls, so aluminum extrusions particularly serve cold-weather applications well.
Have you ever wondered why extruded aluminum components are commonly used in systems for automotive crash management? This is because of its ability to spring back from any shock of impact and flex under loads. This metal naturally combines strength with flexibility.
The surface of aluminum has a naturally occurring oxide file that provides the metal with protection, so it doesn’t rust in most circumstances. Also, since the protection can actually be enhanced by finishing processes, such as anodizing, custom aluminum extrusion products offer excellent resistance to corrosion.
The results of custom aluminum extrusion are less likely to leak or loosen over time since, even without relying on mechanical joining, the process can actually achieve complex shapes in one-piece extruded sections.
High Production Rate
In the case of custom plastic extrusion, the top-rated companies can produce, with a fast turnaround, a substantial number of repeatable products. That said, businesses that offer custom plastic extrusion products have an excellent opportunity of really growing and meeting the demands of their customer base.
The high production rate may be the most notable of all the different advantages that custom extrusion brings. If you do business with a reliable manufacturing company that’s capable of quickly creating the products that you need, you can definitely increase your internal production processes and cater to a higher number of orders from customers.
Another advantage of custom plastic extrusion products is their versatility. A top manufacturer can achieve or accomplish almost anything by using different plastic materials and dies. The vast number of industries that depend on custom plastic extrusions for a number of applications is a testament to the extreme versatility of plastic extrusions.
Still in the case of using plastic materials, custom plastic extrusion products are affordable, and that boils down to the ability of the best companies to make them at extreme accuracy, not to mention that even the plastic beads of the highest quality are also inexpensive. What brings the cost down further is the fact that there’s less labor involved since the fabrication process can undergo automation.
One can create custom extrusions using a wide variety of materials and design, as well as produce them to close tolerances with different types of finishes. The ability of this process to create complex designs that are actually uniform across the material length is definitely its major benefit. That said, excellent products always come out from this process.
Interesting related article: “What is additive manufacturing?“