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1 08, 2018

Aluminum Extrusions for the Space Industry

2018-08-01T17:11:04+00:00 August 1st, 2018|

Aluminum Extrusions for the Space Industry

Followers of our blog, no doubt, know that aluminum alloys are a critically important material for the aerospace industry. The same is true for the ever-developing world of spacecraft manufacturing. They require materials that can withstand intense vibrations and the unique hazards of space. To this end, aluminum provides the perfect answer.

Since Sputnik was launched more than half a century ago, aluminum has been the go-to material for space vehicles and structures. It’s remarkable light weight, high-strength, mechanical stability and dampening properties exceed other materials and make it the first choice for spacecraft – from the International Space Station and the Mars Curiosity Rover, to the spacecraft of the future like NASA’s Orion project. All modern spacecraft are made from anywhere between 50-to-90% aluminum alloy.

Hazards of Space

The extreme environment of space presents unparalleled challenges to engineers, as they must build structures in space that can operate within its harsh conditions. This is what is called a material’s environment stability – this means that the material can remain stable while being subjected to radiation and the vacuum of space.

Some of the hazards that must be accounted for include:

Radiation/cosmic rays

Aluminum is often used as a shielding material that absorbs radiation from stars. Space radiation can cause direct damage to an astronaut’s DNA and cells. Aluminum can absorb up to half of the radiation being emitted, bringing it down to non-threatening levels for the space crew.

Wild fluctuations between heat (250°F) and cold (-200°F)

The temperature of space is varying constantly, depending on where you are within it. This constant flux in temperature causes materials used in spacecraft to consistently expand and contract. Aluminum’s dimensional stability allows it to maintain its shape and size despite the changing temperature. 

Space debris

Spacecraft are constantly peppered with objects that are floating through space, including micro-asteroids, meteorites, and comets. Aluminum’s strength and rigidity allow it to maintain it’s structural integrity to these types of hazards.

Launch and re-entry

During the launch and re-entry sequence of space travel, the materials that comprise the spacecraft will be put under stresses that exceed three times the force of gravity – effectively making it weigh three times as much as it would in Earth’s gravity. As such, the material must be able to maintain its structural integrity and resist bending or breaking, lest it fall apart on the launchpad. 

How is aluminum used in modern spacecraft?

Below, we review some of the major modern spacecraft, and how each utilizes aluminum alloys. Beyond being made of mostly space-grade aluminum, these craft use aluminum in some ingenious and unorthodox ways.

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

The exposed exterior metal of the station is anodized, or otherwise coated for thermal efficiency and to prevent atomic oxygen reactions that occur in the vacuum of space. Also found on the exterior are aluminum whipped shields that absorb the impacts of space debris. In addition, each of the Node modules later added to the craft were made from single blocks of aluminum. In the interior of the station, most objects are made from aluminum for similar weight-saving purposes.

 MARS CURIOSITY ROVER

Several components of the Mars Curiosity Rover’s launch vessel were made from aluminum. The launch vessel’s core was made from an aluminum structure that was sandwiched between graphite-epoxy face sheets. The parachute deployment mechanism, which slowed the Rover’s descent onto the Martian surface, was hand forged from an aluminum billet. The frame and wheels of the nine-foot-long, 1,875 lb. Curiosity Rover itself are made of aluminum, as well. “NASA could not have made it to the surface of Mars without aluminum.” Dr. John Grotzinger Chief Scientist and Head of Strategic Planning for the 2012 Mars Rover mission.

SPACE X’S FALCON 9

The fuel tanks of the Falcon 9 are made from an aluminum-lithium alloy, which is an aluminum that has been infused with lithium. The Falcon 9 is a two-stage spacecraft. Inside both stages are aluminum-dome-tipped tanks, which store the fuel used to launch.  The first stage engines are gradually throttled near the end of first-stage flight to limit launch vehicle acceleration as the rocket’s mass decreases with the burning of fuel. The second stage delivers Falcon 9’s payload to the desired orbit. Like the first stage, the second stage is made from a high-strength aluminum-lithium alloy.

VOYAGER 2

Quite famously, common household aluminum foil was used to save the Voyager 2 mission very late in the development process. The probe was going to pass Jupiter in 1979, a year and a half into it’s mission. The probe was going to slingshot using Jupiter’s gravitational pull and propel itself towards Saturn. There was a slight problem, though – Jupiter’s magnetic field and emitted radiation were very likely to fry most of the internal systems of the Voyager 2 probe, rendering the entire mission useless. The cables onboard the craft needed to be shielded to avoid damage from radiation. Due to the unique planetary arrangement at the time, which only happens once every 175 years, the Voyager team could not delay the mission. Doing so would lose them both their opportunity and billions of dollars. Without the time to do proper due diligence, they instead sent one of their technicians to a local supermarket to by all the kitchen-grade aluminum that they had available. They wiped down the foil with alcohol and exposed it to every exposed cable on the craft. This last-minute addition to the craft ensured the success of the mission!

ORION

NASA’s Orion MPCV (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle) will serve as the next-generation space exploration vehicle. The primary structures of the Orion spacecraft are made from an aluminum-lithium alloy and will be covered by an advanced version of the thermal protection tiles used on the space shuttle.

About Taber Extrusions

Founded in 1973, Taber Extrusions originally pioneered a process for extruding rectangular billet which enables the company to extrude solid profiles up to 31 inches wide or hollows up to 29 inches. Taber expanded with the purchase of an extrusion facility in Gulfport, MS in 1995 which houses a new state of the art cast house, two additional presses, and a fabrication area that has been expanded multiple times. Taber continues to extrude billet in a wide range of alloys and sizes.

Your full service partner from start to finish, Taber is proud to announce expanded capabilities to include ultra-precision aluminum extrusions®. Delivering a wide array of features and surface finishes, Taber’s microextrusions provide an additional design alternative at machined tolerances.

Follow Taber Extrusions

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/company/8843183/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/taberextrusions/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/taberextrusions

Interested in becoming a part of the Taber Team?  Submit your resume to careers@taberextrusions.com.

17 07, 2018

Infrastructure Applications of 6xxx Series Aluminum Alloys

2018-07-18T16:49:28+00:00 July 17th, 2018|

It is estimated that 56,000+ bridges are structurally deficient in America with an estimated $123 billion in rehab needed. The solution? The 6xxx Series Aluminum Alloys. Not only can they be used for emergency repairs but they can provide a long-term solution to this infrastructure problem with minimal maintenance required.Let us review what sets this alloy apart, its advantages, and the types of projects the alloy is best suited for.

What is an aluminum alloy?  

Aluminum alloys are created by taking aluminum and adding elements, creating chemical compositions with enhanced properties. Once created, these compositions receive a 4-digit number with the first digit signifying a general series that characterizes its main alloying elements.

What does it mean when an alloy is a part of the 6xxx series

The main agents in the 6xxx series are silicon and magnesium in order to form magnesium silicide within the alloy. Alloy 6061 is the most commonly used of the series, typically used in truck and marine frames.

What are the advantages of the 6xxx aluminum alloys?

  • High Corrosion Resistance – 6xxx series aluminums can withstand abrasion, keeping their strength and durability in a variety of environments. This is one of the appeals to using it in infrastructure and architectural projects that hope to create structures with the intent of lasting decades. Whether its receiving harsh sunlight in the Nevada desert or nearly year round rain in Seattle, the alloy is able to hold up.
  • Extrudablitity – A unique feature of the 6xxx series is its extrudability. The ability to make specific, extruded parts from the alloy is another factor in why architectural and infrastructure members use this alloy. They typically require unusual, high-strength components and the power of extruded of 6xxx series is its ‘place-metal-where-you-need-it’ flexibility.
  • Heat treatable, weldable, flexible – 6061 is a highly weldable alloy, using tungsten insert gas welding or metal inert gas welding. After welding, the properties near the weld are those of 6061-O (a loss of strength of around 80%). However, MIG and TIG welded material can be heat treated again to bring the material back to the pre-welding temper. Another option may be Friction Stir Welding (FSW). With FSW, the profiles are joined together through the use of a specialized rotary machine tool. Although the material is heated and joined together through friction, the overall heat applied to the material is much lower and of shorter duration than MIG or TIG welding and the heat affected zone is much less and retains most of the original strength.

What are the applications of the 6xxx Series Aluminum Alloys?

It is this combination of advantages that make 6xxx Series Aluminum Alloys prime candidates for architectural and infrastructure projects. Such projects include:

  • Bridges or aluminum bridge decking: Extruded aluminums can be used to build traditional bridges or bridge decks can be pre-built in a modular fashion and moved to bridge sites. This method can limit the amount of time that bridges are under construction and save money in the long run.
  • Roof Structures: Typically implemented for arenas and gymnasiums, the 6063 or 6061 extruded tubes are used in large scale roofs with 5xxx alloy sheets covering them.
  • Pipelines: Because of their high corrosion resistance the 6xxx series is great for pipeline systems that have possibly acidic or dangerous materials flowing through them.
  • Automotive: Whether for a car, motorcycle, bus, or train, the 6xxx series is often used in the automotive industry for its high dent resistance and durability.

Taber Extrusions recognizes the hard work and precise engineering required for large-scale infrastructure projects. Capable of producing very large aluminum shapes with our exclusive 10” x 28” rectangular container along with our 16” and 20” round containers, we canconsistentlysupply our customers with some of the widest, most complex multi-void hollows in the industry. Taber produces their 6xxx series alloys in-house, and our recent investments in our casting and fabrication capabilities have poised Taber to be a great fit for any of your architectural and infrastructure needs… and a reliable partner for all aspects of your project.

Recent upgrades to our aluminum cast house and aluminum fabrication capabilities have put Taber in the perfect position to do just that. Check out our video on Aluminum Extrusions for Infrastructure Projects.

To learn more about how we can be of service visit: http://taberextrusions.com/

For inquires or quotes visit: http://taberextrusions.com/contact-us/

Follow Taber Extrusions

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/company/8843183/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/taberextrusions/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/taberextrusions

Interested in becoming a part of the Taber Team?  Submit your resume to careers@taberextrusions.com.

5 07, 2018

Marine Applications of 5xxx Series Aluminum Alloys

2018-07-05T21:24:40+00:00 July 5th, 2018|

The applications of the 5xxx series aluminum alloys range from shipping containers to their most prolific application, boats. Whether building a recreational boat, commercial ship, or naval vessel, the advantages that the 5xxx series of aluminum alloy have, make it the premier building material for anything marine related. Before we ‘dive’ into the specific advantages of the 5xxx series and it applications, lets break down what aluminum alloys are and what sets the 5xxx series apart.

What is an aluminum alloy and what does it mean when an alloy is considered part of the 5xxx series?

Simply, an aluminum alloy is created by adding elements to pure aluminum, creating a chemical composition that has enhanced properties (typically to increase strength). Once these compositions are created they are assigned a 4-digit number where the first digit signifies a general series that characterizes its main alloying elements. For the 5xxx series, its main agent is magnesium which gives the alloy high strength as well as good weld ability amongst other things.

What are the advantages of 5xxx aluminum alloys?

  • Weight Saving: By using 5xxx aluminum alloy, structures save an average of 55 to 67% of their weight. With comparable strength to mild steel, the alloy’s ability to decrease a structures weight can be hugely beneficial, especially for marine vessels. By saving weight the boats can increase payload, haul more equipment, and lower the amount of power required to power the boat.
  • Weld ability: With weld yield strengths of 100 to 200 MPa, the 5xxx series have good weld ductility without post weld heat treatments.
  • Corrosion resistance: The 5xxx series has lower resistance to corrosion making it ideal for any structure that will be coming in contact with water or chemicals. Through a 10-year seawater test, the tensile strength of the alloy showed reductions of only 2 to 5%.

What are the marine applications of 5xxx Series Aluminum Alloys?

  • Pleasure Boats: Made from both 5xxx and 6xxx series aluminum alloys, pleasure boats utilize the alloys ease of fabrication, corrosion resistance, and cost effectiveness for building their hull or other equipment.
  • Commercial ships: Many passenger vessels utilize the 5xxx series for both superstructures and equipment; ranging from 1000 to 2000 tons per ship. Since for many ocean liners appearance is important, the structures are painted but aluminum allows for a 50% longer time frame till repainting.
  • Naval Vessels: Each year, 6000 tons of aluminum is used on destroyers. Within the past decade, 5456 plate and extrusions have become the standard for the welded deckhouse structures of destroyers. The weight saving ability of the 5xxx series allows the ship to maintain stability with its narrow hull that is needed to reach high speeds. Beyond the main structure, the alloy can also be employed for a variety of equipment including doors, windows, gratings, lockers, bunks, etc.

It is the use of the aluminum alloys that has allowed the marine industry to undergo a technological revolution. While the aluminum may have an initial cost premium, its ability to create lighter ships with lower maintenance costs means that the ship will be a worthwhile investment over the course of its life. And though boats may not be the first thing you think of when discussing the application of an aluminum alloy, the 5xxx series aluminum alloy has transformed the marine industry for the better.

22 06, 2018

Medical Microextrusions | Process, Benefits, and Examples

2018-06-22T22:04:25+00:00 June 22nd, 2018|

Advancements in medical microextrusions technology in recent years have allowed manufacturers to create high quality products for the world of medical OEMs. With a range of dimensions that can reach as small as 0.024 in., OD with up to 6 lumens, and an ID range that can reach 0.003, it’s no surprise that many OEMs are turning to companies like Taber Extrusions that can provide products within these parameters. (Source: medicaldesignbriefs.com)

In fact, micro-sized medical components are quickly becoming crucial to modern hospital safety and cost-efficiency. Whether it be for micro-tubing or micro sized components, the microextrusion process provides a number of benefits to engineers, OEMs, and patients.

In the quest to create higher quality medical devices, companies are looking to enhance existing products (including catheters and precise flow restrictors) through miniaturization, while ultimately reducing the costs of production.

Medical products that utilize microextrusion technology overwhelmingly support cardio-and-neurovascular procedures, drug delivery, IV procedures, and other procedures that require work on a micro level.

By minimizing the impact of invasive procedures, the medical industry can reduce complications, make procedures faster and more efficient, and ultimately reduce patient in-time and overall healthcare costs.

WHAT’S THE MICROEXTRUSION PROCESS LIKE?

Manufacturing the miniature components used in a medical microextrusion device poses a unique challenge for microextrusion providers. These components cannot be created using conventional extrusion machinery. Instead, they require precise, state-of-the-art equipment that allows for a high degree of precision and control over the process, as well as Engineers and technicians that possess deep knowledge of both the material and the process itself.

However, at its core, the process is similar to that of regular extrusion.

The material is either pushed forward (direct) or pulled through (indirect) a die orifice to create the shape required. Unlike macro-level extrusions, microextrusions are extruded at a very slow rate to maintain the physical properties of materials that are often delicate.

Done properly, microextrusions can create end products that have complex cross sections and preserved chemical properties.

BENEFITS TO OEMs

Lower Time-to-Market

In years previous, OEM’s requests for medical products would require them to re-outfit their existing extrusion machines, which would take more time and far less efficient. With many manufacturers outfitting themselves with microextrusion machinery, the time required to create the product is drastically reduced.

Lower Costs

As stated above, microextrusions can achieve their desired performance at fractions of the cost, due to the lower cost in materials that are used. As the development of the technology continues to improve, so to do the devices that are used in tandem with them. (i.e fibre optic cable, sensors, stints, etc.)

Psychological benefit to patients

A patient’s positive mental state can be a great asset to their recovery. Waning are the days of large, invasive medical devices that can cause patients discomfort. Smaller, less intrusive devices can go a long way. (source: Medical Plastic News)

POTENTIAL APPLICATIONS

  • Infant/paediatric care
  • Heart leads
  • Neurological
  • Vascular Surgery
  • Catheters
  • Radiology
  • Urology
  • Oncology

About Taber Extrusions

Founded in 1973, Taber Extrusions originally pioneered a process for extruding rectangular billet which enables the company to extrude solid profiles up to 31 inches wide or hollows up to 29 inches. Taber expanded with the purchase of an extrusion facility in Gulfport, MS in 1995 which houses a new state of the art cast house, two additional presses, and a fabrication area that has been expanded multiple times. Taber continues to extrude billet in a wide range of alloys. and sizes.

Taber Extrusions has recently purchased the Exact Manufacturing division of Lou-Rich, Inc. which will now expand Taber’s capabilities to include ultra-precision aluminum extrusions®.

Today, Taber Extrusions is proud to announce expanded capabilities to include aluminum ultra-precision extrusions®.

Follow Taber Extrusions

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/company/8843183/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/taberextrusions/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/taberextrusions

Interested in becoming a part of the Taber Team?  Submit your resume to careers@taberextrusions.com.

24 05, 2018

Aluminum Extruders Engaging New Generation of Frigate Builders and Defense Contractors

2018-05-24T18:09:11+00:00 May 24th, 2018|

The U.S. Navy is prepared to spend a generous amount in order to meet its ambitious specifications list as it prioritizes its FFG(X) program.  Recently, the U.S. Navy  announced they are willing to spend roughly $1B per ship, which should buy a very capable surface combatant. With this news, aluminum extrusion manufacturers are eager to provide extrusions for selected frigate designers/builders.

Read all about this and the requirements set by the Navy for the FFG(X) in this recent article by Tyler Rogoway of The Drive, which says “Defense contractors from around the globe are seeing this program as a rare opportunity to get a foothold in shipbuilding for the U.S. Navy, and multiple existing foreign designs could potentially be adapted for the Navy’s use. This is in addition to well-established domestic vendors that will be competing for the opportunity with their own designs as well. Supposedly about eight designs are being looked at by the Navy, all of which were submitted following the service’s initial RFP that was released last year.”

“This is an effort to get the design right up front,” Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, The Navy’s surface warfare director said in an interview with Defense News. “We’re looking to have a dialogue with industry to get the most capability for the best price…. we want to see what industry comes back with. From there we’ll lock it down and go into the detailed design and construction phase and we can get this thing out by 2020.”

Who are the companies that have been contracted by the Navy to compete for the frigate bid?

  • Huntington Ingalls Industries, Pascagoula, Mississippi
  • Lockheed Martin Corp., Rotary and Mission Systems, Liverpool, New York
  • Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., Fort Worth, Texas
  • Detyens Shipyards Inc., North Charleston, South Carolina
  • Austal USA LLC, Mobile, Alabama
  • Lockheed Martin Inc., Baltimore, Maryland
  • Marinette Marine Corp., dba as Fincantieri Marinette Marine, Marinette, Wisconsin
  • General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine
  • Nexagen Networks Inc., Marlboro, New Jersey
  • Adept Process Services Inc., National City, California

Aluminum extrusions have played a part in military and defense industries for a long time, and known for their contribution to the U.S. Navy’s the Littoral Combat Ships.  The LCS are agile and flexible surface combatants which operate close to shore, reconfigurable for various duties from special operations, maritime intercept, anti-submarine warfare, and reconnaissance. The Aluminum Extruders Council explains, “With design criteria stressing agility, it’s not surprising that extruded components, with their high strength and light weight, play an important role in the LCS program. Among other applications, truss sections, joined with friction stir welding, are used for decking, and T-sections, again joined via friction stir, are incorporated in the hull and superstructure.”

It will be exciting to see which ship will become the U.S. Navy’s next frigate, and what 2020 will bring.

About Taber Extrusions

Founded in 1973, Taber Extrusions originally pioneered a process for extruding rectangular billet which enables the company to extrude solid profiles up to 31 inches wide or hollows up to 29 inches. Taber expanded with the purchase of an extrusion facility in Gulfport, MS in 1995 which houses a cast house, two additional presses, and a fabrication area that has been expanded multiple times. Taber continues to extrude billet in a wide range of alloys and sizes, and has diversified its markets beyond military since its inception to include aerospace, automotive, marine, infrastructure, and sporting goods, among many others. For these markets, the company supplies cast and extruded products in a variety of soft and hard alloys. Today, Taber Extrusions is proud to announce the launch expanded capabilities to include aluminum micro-extrusions.

If you have any questions please visit taberextrusions.com or contact one of Taber’s Regional Sales Managers. Taber Extrusions is committed to continue their legacy by saving clients time and money with custom aluminum shapes extruded with precision and the full range of aluminum alloys.

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