Technology is commonly defined as the application of scientific knowledge to the practical aims of human life, or, as it is sometimes phrased, the change and manipulation of the human environment. Aluminum extrusion technology is one such innovation that continues to change the world for the better. Before we bring light to this time-honored approach to aluminum processing, we should first know where it all began.
The Beginnings of Aluminum Extrusion
Before 1825, the complexities of refining aluminum from ore made aluminum a rare and precious metal that was more valuable than silver and gold. Thanks to a successful smelting process invented by Charles Martin Hall and Paul Heroult, aluminum paved its way into the commercial sector. The invention of smelting gave rise to better technology that could fully take advantage of the unique attributes of aluminum. In 1894, Alexander Dick achieved just that when he developed the hot extrusion process. This process allowed non-ferrous alloys to be extruded, and the first aluminum extrusion press was in production by 1904. Over the years, with modern technology, extrusions can now be more precise and accurate.
Aluminum Properties Made Simple
In essence, aluminum extrusion technology can be compared to popular child’s modeling clay. Playdough can be smashed, folded, and molded into any shape. The material can also be squeezed through an extrusion-type machine passing through various-sized and shaped holes (just like die casts!) to become an entirely different shape destined for a brand-new use. The possibilities are only limited to one’s imagination. A young scientist at work…
In the world of aluminum extrusion technology, the process of forming aluminum begins with a raw aluminum. While this metal is the most abundant on Earth, it rarely comes in its pure form. Alumina is made from bauxite. After that, the material must undergo smelting and an alloying process involving many alloying elements such as copper, magnesium, silicon, and manganese. Finally, the aluminum is ready for the extrusion process. An aluminum billet is preheated then forcibly compressed through a smaller opening. Besides the aluminum alloy combination, many factors determine the quality and properties of the final product, such as the billet length, the billet heat, aluminum profiles, and the extrusion speed. Despite varying results, a freshly made aluminum extrusion is hardly ever used in a real-world commercial application. Most aluminum extrusion products adhere to specifications which meet the needs of each industry.
Among the many reasons of how aluminum extrusions shape our world, aside from being incredibly strong, aluminum weighs only a third of other common commercial metals like iron, steel, and copper. This makes aluminum more economical in applications where fuel economy is an important factor such as in the transportation sector. Additionally, this metal is exceptionally resilient, allowing it to bend and spring back after substantial impacts, making it a top choice for automotive crash management systems.
Remember that playdough analogy? Well, aluminum’s malleability makes this metal easy to work with throughout the design and extrusion process. An aluminum extrusion can be tailored to meet all possible needs in terms of function and aesthetics.
Aluminum Extrusions and Energy
Aluminum extrusions also play a role in energy generation. Compared to other metals, aluminum has high electrical conductivity, making it preferential for energy distribution. Aluminum is also essential in structural and racking solutions for systems that collect solar power when generating green energy. Aluminum, and by extension, aluminum extrusions, is one of the most sustainable metals out there. The icing on the cake? Aluminum is infinitely recyclable without losing any of its above properties.
The aluminum industry has had to evolve to accommodate the growing needs of various industries that utilize aluminum extrusions. Within the United States’ aluminum industry, Taber Extrusions is a leader in quality products and customer satisfaction, firmly believing in collaborative work with customers to find unique solutions to queries that our ever-changing world presents. Taber’s extensive aluminum extrusion capabilities allow the creation of all kinds of designs for a variety of industries.
ABOUT TABER EXTRUSIONS
Taber Extrusions, located in Russellville, AR and Gulfport, MS, is highly regarded as a provider of aluminum extrusions to a wide variety of industries including aerospace, infrastructure, transportation, defense, and thermal management. ISO 9001 and AS 9100 certified, Taber’s present and future customers can expect to see increased supply opportunities with the expanded set of extrusion solutions, programs, and services.
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 and two additional presses, micro-extrusion capabilities, and the fabrication area has been expanded multiple times. The most recent expansion was the addition of the new Haas VF-12 CNC machining line. 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 of its friction stir welding capabilities, and full offering of extruded aluminum components, value-added machining services, and raw material supply to the North American market.
Aluminum is everywhere. Many of the conveniences of modern life would not be possible without it. It is a crucial element for modern innovative applications, for sustainability, and also for the progress of the economy. Its strong and lightweight features and ability to be infinitely recycled propelled the U.S. aluminum industry to become the backbone of the nation’s manufacturing base. With the findings of research conducted by John Dunham & Associates and released by the Aluminum Association, this blog will delve deeper into the impact of aluminum on the United States’ economy.
The Aluminum Industry Generates Jobs
Several challenges have been presented to the industry in recent years, still, the aluminum market has shown a great deal of resilience. Even though the aluminum industry faced several challenges, including many job losses, growth in downstream segments like flat-rolled products and extrusions provided a way to compensate.
Today, the American aluminum industry directly employs over 166,000 people that generate more than 170 billion dollars in economic output. In addition, over 494,000 workers are indirectly employed, which contributes another 102 billion dollars to economic activity. As a whole, over 660,000 U.S. jobs are supported by the production, processing, and use of aluminum. Those employed in the aluminum industry earn an average yearly salary that is above the national average. Indirect employees contribute 44 billion dollars in wages and benefits to the economy. When all employment supported by the industry is considered, these jobs generate nearly 16 billion dollars in federal, state, and local taxes.
Aside from being strong and lightweight, aluminum also has the advantage of retaining its properties, making it one of the most recyclable materials. Having said that, the aluminum industry has recycled more than 70 percent of its output since it was established.
Aluminum recycling conserves more than 90 percent of the energy costs required in primary production. Recycling a pound of aluminum saves about 7 kilowatt-hours of electricity. Also, it is the only material in the consumer disposal stream that generates a greater return than the cost of its collection. Every minute, an average of 113,000 aluminum cans are recycled. The aluminum industry pays a tremendous amount of money to replace empty aluminum cans. With the recycling of aluminum, specifically aluminum cans, charitable organizations have been developed and supported for decades and more decades to come.
Aluminum is a major contributor to the nation’s manufacturing base and economy, supporting thousands of jobs in many communities and regions. Over 660,000 workers are employed by the industry, which generates 170 billion dollars in economic output each year. Moreover, aluminum is considered to be a sustainable metal. This means it can be recycled multiple times without the risk of degrading breaking. Taber Extrusions understands the important role that aluminum plays in the nation’s economy and contributes to that role by providing various processing services related to aluminum. A few of these services include aluminum extrusions, micro extrusions, billet casting, aluminum fabrication, and friction stir welding.
Founded in 1973, Taber Extrusions is the pioneer of extruding rectangular billet, allowing the company to manufacture solid profiles up to 31 inches wide or hollow profiles up to 29 inches wide. With the purchase of an extrusion facility in Gulfport, MS, Taber expanded its capabilities with a state-of-the-art cast house, two additional presses, micro extrusion capability, and numerous fabrication expansions.
Taber continues to extrude billets in an array of alloys and sizes. Its markets have expanded beyond the military to include aerospace, automotive, marine, infrastructure, and sporting goods. For these markets, the company supplies cast and extruded products in various soft and hard alloys.
Today, Taber Extrusions is a vertically integrated supplier of friction stir welding panels and assemblies in North America not previously seen – offering extruded aluminum components, value-added machining services, and raw materials.