Product flexibility can be defined as the amount of responsiveness (or adaptability) for any future change in a product design, including new products and derivatives of existing products.
A flexible design will reduce redesign costs and allow quicker response to customers with increased performance. Many manufacturers offer products that are specifically designed to present additional flexibility for the end consumer and product lines that can serve their entire market base. Product flexibility can be achieved with the use of aluminum extrusions.
Utilizing aluminum extrusions as an integral part of the overall product or final assembly affords the opportunity to be completely flexible with real-time changes to product mix and customer demand. Aluminum extrusions are manufactured in a lineal form. This process allows for different cut lengths, mitered angles, fabricated operations and finishes to be achieved with minimal changes to the required operations.
Unlike other manufacturing processes such as die casting and plastic injection molding—which only provide one size and limited product flexibility—the aluminum extrusion process can utilize one extrusion die and allow vast changes to the net-shape profile with typically no requirement to invest in additional tooling and extrusion dies.
Machining centers and CNC’s are also more flexible when compared to dedicated stand-alone, special purpose machines.
Many manufacturers will utilize a family of extrusion dies with integrated attachment, hinged and sub-component mating designs to offer as much flexibility as possible to ensure that their end-product can be as flexible as the aluminum extrusion process. When customers have varying envelope sizes and square footage requirements, utilization of aluminum extrusions can meet these high-mix product requirements.