Like conventional aluminum extrusions, microextrusions are pushed through a die. Unlike conventional extrusions, the entire extrusion process is performed at a submillimeter level. In other words, the resulting product’s cross section can fit through a 1-millimeter square. Since microforming was first explored in 1990, several microextrusion processes have been developed and found to be especially valuable in the defense and aerospace industries.
“Taber was originally recognized for our large shapes and now we are establishing ourselves as microextruders. Since we’ve added microextrusions, friction stir welding, and billet casting, we’re pretty much spanning the gamut of aluminum extrusion competence,” says Jason Weber, VP of Sales and Marketing at Taber Extrusions. “We were already well-versed within the defense and aerospace markets but adding miniature aluminum extrusions to our capabilities has allowed us to become a one-stop shop for our customers in those industries. Our diversification has opened the door wide for our customers.”
Taber Extrusions has experienced many evolutions since its founding in the early 1970s. Established in Russellville, AR, Taber pioneered a process for extruding rectangular billet, able to extrude solid profiles up to 31 inches wide or hollows up to 29 inches. Since then, the Gulfport, MS facility was added, which increased Taber’s billet capacity, alloy range, and ability to reuse materials. Within the last decade, fabrication capabilities were upgraded, friction stir welding was added, and of course, microextrusions became an offering.
MICROEXTRUSIONS FOR DEFENSE AND AEROSPACE
For which type of end-use applications are Taber’s microextrusions being utilized?
Precision is a must for military, defense, and firearms manufacturing – requiring strength, complexity, and tight tolerances. Aluminum’s high strength-to-weight ratio makes it the ideal material for many defense product applications such as:
Electronics thermal management/enclosures
Firearms components and accessories
From the Wright brothers to NASA, aluminum has helped make it possible for humans to fly above the Earth onward to explore other galaxies. Aluminum’s minimal maintenance, lightweight with high strength, flexibility at low temperatures, and ability to engineer a wide range of functionality into components, makes it an obvious choice for solutions in aircraft and aerospace. For the most part, microextrusions function out of site and you’ll never know they are all around you. However, they serve a crucial role in aerospace:
Interior aircraft systems
Supplemental oxygen systems
Passenger Comfort Systems
Passenger service systems
Other fluid/gas systems
As aluminum has played an important role in the defense and aerospace applications for many years, a new generation of aluminum-lithium alloys are offering aircraft manufacturers even more savings when it comes to weight and fuel. Beyond aluminum’s high strength-to-weight ratio and excellent formability, its anticorrosive properties make it a top choice. When aluminum is exposed to air, it forms a hard microscopic oxide coating, sealing it from the environment. This tight oxide bond is a compound not found in nature, but an aluminum alloy created to provide a long-lasting protective solution. These unique properties allow microextrusion manufacturers like Taber Extrusions to furnish extremely strong, precise, and long-lasting miniature extrusions to end users in a wide range of markets.
Taber’s Miniature Extrusion Capabilities
Up to 0.8 In2 cross sectional area
Special cases down to 0.075 In2
Profile circle size up to 3″
Minimum wall thickness possible to 0.010” (select cases)
Key characteristic tolerances possible ±0.001” (select cases)
More 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 and two additional presses, microextrusion capabilities, and the fabrication area 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 has completed the addition of in-house friction stir welding capabilities, and carries on their offering of extruded aluminum components, value-added machining services, and raw material supply to the North American market – making them a vertically integrated supplier of FSW panels and assemblies never before seen in North America.
Recent advancements in extrusion have allowed for aluminum microtubing products to be used in medicine and surgical applications. Specifically, microextrusions have allowed for OEM’s to request microtubing with dimensions previously thought impossible.
With continued advancements in several industries, aluminum microtubing has become increasingly more complex and smaller in size. New and advanced processes have placed an urgency on manufacturers to produce smaller and smaller microtubing with safer and more durable materials.
OEMs are primarily focused on miniaturizing their devices and providing new features, but reducing cost is also a large concern. Before, these OEMs relied on traditional injecting molding to complete these projects. However, with the increasing popularity of microextrusions, OEMs now have much more flexibility in cost and design.
The use of aluminum microtubing is useful in this regard. Aluminum can provide three times as much volume per pound as other metal products – so when weight is a factor, it is an obvious choice.
Aluminum’s natural corrosion resistance makes it suitable to many types of environments and its ability to transmit heat rapidly make it ideal for heat transfer processes. On top of this all, aluminum tubing is readily bent, formed, and welded.
“From a challenge standpoint, material is a key factor… running products on a micro level requires materials to be processed at extremely low output levels, thus creating the potential for high shear and material degradation.
Unlike traditional extrusion, which processes a large amount of material quickly, microextrusion processes a small amount of material slowly to get the desired physical and performance attributes.
In addition to the benefits provided by the reduction in size, another plus is to have the ability to build in advanced steerable capabilities, enhanced with… features to aid in complex procedures. This type of structure can be produced in multilayer size, with enhanced performance in many areas. Depending on the application and device, you can modify configurations to aid the designers even further.”
TABER’S MICROEXTRUSION PROCESS
Taber’s aluminum ultra-precise extrusions are produced through a proprietary technique that delivers features, tolerances, and surface finishes previously considered to be impossible. This unique extrusion process continues to excite design engineers, offering an additional design alternative for the production of precision aluminum components. Industries most commonly using microextrusions include computer, electronics, aerospace, medical, industrial, and military.
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 and two additional presses, micro-extrusion capabilities, and the fabrication area 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 has completed the addition of in-house Friction Stir Welding capabilities, and carries on their offering of extruded aluminum components, value-added machining services and raw material supply to the North American market – making them a vertically integrated supplier of FSW panels and assemblies never before seen in North America.
A SPECIAL NOTE ON VIRUSES AND BACTERIA IN RESPECT TO ALUMINUM SURFACES:
At this time of extreme health concern, specifiers must carefully consider how material choices may impact the spread of viruses, bacteria, and infectious diseases in healthcare facilities and other public spaces.
While much about the coronavirus is still under investigation, research has demonstrated significant differences in the longevity of viruses on various surfaces, and there are a variety of treatments that appear to further reduce the growth and survival of viruses and bacteria, enhancing the surface’s ability to destroy pathogens.
A major research study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection tested human coronavirus strains for longevity on various material surfaces and found that the virus lasted only two to eight hours on aluminum, but days on many other materials.