You may be familiar with one of those fun children’s learning games or exercises where you have to find different shapes. In your daily life, you could play a similar game with finding extruded aluminum shapes. Aluminum extrusion is a really remarkably simple process that can create both simple and complex shapes. We use these shapes far more frequently than we normally realize.

How Aluminum Extrusion Works
If you’ve ever used a Play-Doh Fun Factory playset, you know the basics of aluminum extrusion. Material gets pushed into a narrow space under pressure, and a die on the other end of that narrow space molds the material into whatever shape you want as it emerges.

For aluminum extrusion, it just takes a combination of heat and extreme pressure to push the aluminum (known as a billet) through the die. The aluminum will maintain the same cross-section for the entire length of the material that comes through the die, so extrusion can create quite long continuous pieces. One major benefit of this is that the pieces are continuous and seamless.

Simple Aluminum Shapes
Perhaps the simplest and most common aluminum shape is the u-channel. This can be used to make railings, door and window frames, tracks, brackets, slides, protective edges and more. In larger sections, this can form troughs. A gutter is basically just a u-channel with a lip on the edge, and these are also generally made from extruded aluminum. Other simple shapes can include boxes, tubes or bars. If you look at the shelving in your home, light fixtures, mop handles or curtain rods, you’re probably looking at aluminum extrusions.

Complex Aluminum Shapes
The only limitation on how complex extruded aluminum shapes can be is the complexity of the die used. What will often happen is that an intricate extrusion will be created, a flower shape for example, and then cut into several identical pieces. This is how decorative extrusion pieces are created as well as smaller functional extrusion pieces like clips, clamps and brackets. With lawn ornaments, wall hanger clips, small mechanical or electronic parts in your appliances, computers and televisions, you also quite possibly have extruded aluminum shapes.

Howard Precision Metals provides custom extrusions along with a variety of other high quality aluminum products. Go to Howardprecision.com.

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