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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

  • How do we get cost out of the part?
    • Answer - Depending on what type of part you are using, there are different areas to focus on.  Aluminum Extrusions make sure that the correct alloy is being used.& All Components:  Make sure that critical dimensions are noted and non-critical ones have appropriate tolerances and are noted as non critical. And most importantly, make sure you have selected the right supplier.
  • Is it required to have a print produced before I can get a estimate?
    • Answer - This is the best practice. Sometimes your requirements will drive the capabilities of the supplier.
  • How can I determine the best process and material for my component?
    • Answer - Most designs will lend themselves to certain processes and materials, although there may be several methods. Allow us to review the design and application, along with the expected usage in the development and production stages, and we can guide you through the choices. We offer several manufacturing options, and will help determine the best options based on the following: end use application (physical, mechanical, environmental properties), target costs (development costs vs. part costs vs. tooling costs vs. design revision potential), and leadtimes. Many applications will utilize a certain process during development and initial market penetration, then switch to another process once the design and market is proven.
  • Where do I start once we have determined a need for an aluminum extrusion?
    • Answer - Call Alexandria Industries, and discuss your needs with our trained staff. They will take the time to get an understanding of your product needs, and determine if an extrusion is the best solution. If so, they will work hand in hand, include engineering and design assistance to make sure that the prints are created correctly.
  • What alloy is the best and least expensive?
    • Answer - Within the 6000 series alloy family, the Aluminum Association currently has 94 registered alloys. To further explain, 6063 alloy has 59 variations, 6061 alloy has 24 variations, 6060 has 10 variations and 6360 alloy has 6 variations. There is no one particular "best" alloy or "least" expensive alloy available for consumers, however each alloy does have a particular advantage over another to achieve specific characteristics for the end use. Regarding price of alloys, secondary billet, otherwise known as recycled billet is currently higher priced than primary, virgin material produced from smelters around the world.
  • Some extruders ask for exceptions to my print tolerances, and some do not. Why?
    • Answer - Like Alexandria, they are looking to achieve the highest CPK value of your print dimensions. They are looking to provide a part to you that is consistent each and every order. Some dimensions can be held very tight though the extrusion process, while others may need to open up in tolerance to achieve to print specifications. Wall thicknesses, radiuses, multi-hole profiles are a few tolerance criteria that need to be reviewed before your supplier agrees to making it to exacting specification.
  • What tolerances can be held in production?
    • Answer - Great question, however there are many types of tolerance characteristics that come into play, such as wall thickness, length, straightness, twist, flatness, angularity and many more. The extrusion industry has developed what is considered industry-wide standard tolerances. Through further process studies and technology development, these tolerances have been able to be tightened up from its original published version. Alexandria Industries provides tolerances to the "precision tolerance" specification that has been published by the industry council. Alexandria offers published white papers which will help in answering your question to a specific design you're considering for tolerance review.
  • The tooling costs for plastic injection molding is very high, but your piece parts are competitive. Why?
    • Answer - This is typically due to others purchasing China molds.
  • Why do you request CAD files when I have already sent you a pdf file?
    • Answer - We have found that having access to our customer’s 2D and 3D files assists in eliminating revision level differences in dimensions, as well as being able to view 3D files many times provides better detail to certain design characteristics.  Whether it be an aluminum extrusion, casting or plastic injection molded product we believe that having more information up front will provide a more effective outcome in the end.
  • What is the difference from your standard anodize and the ExtremEtch?
    • Answer - Standard anodize is treated with an alkaline etch, which does in fact hide minor surface defects.  However, ExtremEtch is a patented process that uses a different chemical mixture for the pretreatment etching process of aluminum  extrusions and other aluminum components.  ExtremEtch has proven to be a great solution to many customers of Alexandria Industries, because it has eliminated old surface defect issues and media blasting expenses.  In some cases, customers have been able to increase the selling price of their finished product because of the desired surface created.
  • Why do you request tolerance exceptions on some dimensions and not others?
    • Answer - Manufacturing precision components, whether it be machining, extruding or molding all have their exceptions due to inherent processing variables.  The only reason why Alexandria Industries requests exceptions of the customer’s tolerances is because Alexandria understands that many times the stated tolerance can’t be achieved with a high CPK level.  Most tolerances, as tight as they can get are achievable at least one time.  However, manufacturing to a tolerance band that is achievable and agreed upon by both the supplier and customer for day in and day out performance is more valuable to the process.
  • What is the typical lead times for extrusion dies?
    • Answer - 1-3 weeks
  • What is the typical manufacturing lead times for extruded parts that would require precision machining or any other processes/services?
    • Answer - 3-5 weeks

Glossary

A - C

Adhesion
bonding one or more materials with an aluminum extrusion.

Age hardening
hardening aluminum extrusions by storing at room temperature or elevated temperatures following heat treatment.

Aging
spontaneous change in properties of an aluminum extrusion which occurs faster at elevated temperatures.

Aluminum clad
bonding corrosion-resistant aluminum extrusions to a stronger aluminum alloy base.

Alumina
a powdery substance called aluminum oxide which is produced from bauxite.

Aluminum
a silvery ductile metallic element found primarily in bauxite.

Aluminum oxide
aluminum and oxygen chemically compounded, and is formed immediately on the aluminum extrusion surface when it is exposed to oxygen in the air.

Anneal
to heat a metal to a temperature slightly below its melting point, then gradually cooled to be softened.

Anodizing
an oxide coating or protective layer on aluminum extrusions. Produced by submerging the aluminum extrusion in an electrolytic bath with electric current (aluminum being the anode). 

Artificial aging
to speed up the process of the natural aging cycle of aluminum extrusions by exposing the aluminum to heat for a period of time.

Backer
a steel tool which supports and/or presses against the outer surface of an aluminum extrusion die (tooling). Sole purpose is to support the tooling during the aluminum extrusion process.

Bar extrusion
otherwise commonly known as bar stock. Aluminum extruded profiles take on standard dimensions or commonly used sizes of general industrial use. These aluminum extruded shapes can be produced in round, square, rectangular, hexagon, octagon or triangular shapes.

Bauxite
is a clay-like mineral, which is the main ore of alumina and is composed of aluminum oxides and aluminum hydroxides.

Billet
aluminum billet also known as ingot logs, is the raw material in a cylindrical form which is cut to smaller lengths and fed to the aluminum extrusion press to be formed into an aluminum extruded shape.

Billet container
the opening in which the billet enters during the aluminum extrusion process.

Bolster
similar function to a “backer”, a tool which supports the backer and extrusion die during pressure forced during the aluminum extrusion process.

Bow
side to side deviation from straightness.

Butt end
the impurities of an aluminum billet that is not extruded through the die opening.

Butt weld
a weld of two aluminum extrusion sections, end to end.

Cad
computer assisted design

Cam
computer assisted manufacturing

Cap
the outer most support tool of the aluminum extrusion die for a hollow extruded profile.

Coefficient of thermal expansion
relative rate at which a substance expands in heat, compared to standard.

Compressive strength
calculated typically when investigating bending and/or stretching forces. Strength to resist outside pressures.

Conductivity
ability to transmit electricity, light or heat. Aluminum extrusions have inherent characteristics of electrical and thermal conductivity. A preferred material for heat dissipation products and electrical applications.

Corrosion
metal being deteriorated by chemical or electrochemical reactions with other materials/substances.

Cryogenic
aluminum extrusions will gain in strength when exposed to very low temperatures.



D - F

Deburring
the removal of burrs and/or sharp edges.

Die
an aluminum extrusion tool in a pre-determined shape is created via a process called electrical discharge machine. This tool causes the aluminum billet to take shape of the pre-determined aluminum extruded shape.

Die lines
markings on the surface of the extrusion which are caused by the bearing surface of the aluminum extrusion die opening.

Dovetail
a design feature afforded by the aluminum extrusion process, which assists in assemblies of two mating parts. Sliding action.

Elastic deformation
a dimensional change which is induced by stress. The aluminum extrusion returns to its original dimensions when stress is relieved.

Electroplating
the addition or plating of a thin layer of metal, typically copper, silver or tin.

Elongation
total maximum percentage of stretch an aluminum extrusion can endure before tearing.

Etching
to texture aluminum extruded profiles by a controlled corrosive process.

Extremetch
a process which is similar to etching, with reduced material removal. Creates a desired, matte finish to remove surface defects or to create a surface with minimal reflectivity.

Extrude
to force aluminum through a desired shape with pressure to produce a lineal profile.

Extruded shape
the shape which is created while an aluminum billet is being pushed through an extrusion die.

Extrusion
a product made by the aluminum extrusion process. A lineal shape of a predetermined design developed though pressure.

Fabricate
to work with the aluminum extruded profile into a finished state, adding value through cnc machining, bending, forming, punching, welding and many other processes.

Formability
a determination of the level of difficulty with which an aluminum extrusion can be mechanically formed. 6000 series alloys are considered good formability materials.

Forming
to change the shape of a lineal aluminum extrusion by a way of mechanical process.



G - V

Hard coat anodizing
chemical and electrical finishing process for aluminum extrusions that produces a thin, hard protective layer on the surface of the aluminum extruded profile.

Hinge joint
also known as hinging design. A joint which allows parts to rotate without separation. Hinging designs can come in many different sizes and/or shapes. Proper design and tolerancing is valuable when incorporating a hinging method to the final design of an aluminum extruded component.

Hollow aluminum extrusion
a shape which was designed to have a hollow section incorporated into it. A shape which completely encloses one or more voids.

Lap joint
an attachment method or joint that can be produced when one member is overlapping another.

Machinability
the level of difficulty of working with metal when machine tools are applied to the aluminum extruded shape. 6000 series alloys are considered good machinability materials.

Mill finish
obtained when standard aluminum extrusion practices are applied. Goes without aid of any other operation, post extrusion process. Mill finish will vary depending on the alloy selected.

Nonferrous
does not contain iron; aluminum is a nonferrous material. Term typically used in the aluminum extrusion industry to explain the type of materials used within the extrusion process.

Polishing
a secondary, mechanical finishing process that is achieved when applying buffers (buffing pads or wheels) to the surface of an aluminum extruded profile. Can create many different and desired finishes. 

Powder coating
coating an aluminum extrusion profile with finely ground powder of coloring agents, resins and other additives. Another form of chemical finishing or painting to achieve a desired look.

Precision aluminum extruder
an aluminum extruder that is capable of achieving tolerances tighter than industry standard. Alexandria extrusion company.

Psi
pounds per square inch. A mechanical load or pressure.

Quenching
to quickly chill hot aluminum in cold water or forced air.

Secondary aluminum
also known as recycled or remelt aluminum. Aluminum recovered from scrap.

Semi-hollow aluminum extrusion
a cross section of an aluminum extruded profile that partially encloses a void.

Solid aluminum extrusion
a cross section of an aluminum extruded profile which does not have any internal voids.

Standard tolerance
dimensional tolerance that is established for a certain class of product. Alexandria extrusion company is capable of achieving ½ of industry standard, thus making it a precision aluminum extruder.

Strength-to-weight ratio
relative strength of aluminum profile to its weight. Aluminum is about twice that of mild steel.

Stretching
to straighten an aluminum extruded profile, which can range from .5 of 1% to 3%. Relieves stress on the extruded profile.

Stretchforming
also spelled stretch forming; is the process of shaping an aluminum extruded profile around a mandrel by a way of stretching. Reduces deformation of profile and internal walls of radii. Used for precision bending in critical industries such as medical, marine and fenestration.

Temper
the combination of hardness and strength imparted to a metal b mechanical or thermal treatments. T4, t5, t6 are examples of temper designation call-outs.

Tube
also known as extruded tube; a hollow cross sectional aluminum extrusion profile.

Void
an empty space in the cross section of the aluminum extrusion profile.