The first best step to ensure your aluminum extruded components are made to their design specifications, consistently, is to understand your extruder's tooling practices.
Aluminum extrusion suppliers refer to the tooling used to make extrusions as “die tools.” Die tools include separate pieces that when assembled together are called a die stack.
The product shape determines which pieces are required for the die stack. A solid shape, for example, includes a die ring, die plate, backer and bolster that mate together to form the die stack. To make hollow or semi-hollow shapes, the die stack includes a die ring, hollow mandrel, cap section and bolster.
Die Designs and Prices
A question we’ve heard from customers is why our die tools cost more than other extruders.
Depending on your component’s shape, certain tools in your die stack such as die rings, and some backers and bolsters, can be universal and used to extrude different shapes.
Other tools, including die plates, hollow mandrels and cap sections, are customized for each different extrusion shape. If an extruded shape is hollow or semi-hollow, the die stack requires a customized backer, as well.
Some extruders will use the same bolster or backer for different extrusion profiles and customers. Both offer lower tooling costs. But they can cause fluctuating results, as well.
At Alexandria Industries, we use customized, made-for-your-profile, die plates and backers for each extrusion shape. We also use custom bolsters for certain product shapes that require a form-fitting bolster. A fully customized die stack provides crucial control against flexing on the face of the die plate during the extrusion process. This allows us to achieve tighter dimensional tolerances and improve repeatability. A customized die plate, backer and bolster combination will also increase the life of your die stack, saving time and money to replace worn dies.
While this tooling method may increase costs, the customized die stack allows us to produce quality components that meet your product design specifications consistently. We never use one customer’s die stack to make products for another customer.
Tools are Only as Good as the Users
The die shop experts at Alexandria Industries offer a combined 205 years of die design and maintenance experience. They support our extrusion team (and customers) with die tools that stack up well against the competition.
Our die team works closely with our engineering and extrusion teams to understand your product’s end use, component life cycle, functionality, mating components, features and dimensioning scheme to create a die stack to produce a shape that is simply manufacturable.
Having established long-term relationships with our die suppliers, we assure customers we use quality die tools. Our die technicians also use the latest inspection and vision measurement tools to track die tooling wear, perform ongoing maintenance to extend tool life, and order timely replacement dies.
A Visible Difference
No two aluminum extruders are the same. Educating yourself on your extruder’s die tools can make a visible difference in the quality of your extruded components and life span of your die tooling. This may also help you understand why tooling from one extruder may cost more than another.
Contact your customer service representative to determine what your die stack contains or if you would like to learn more about die tooling and how it can impact your end product.