Aluminum Part Design Guidance

Quick learn of aluminum extrusion property. Guidance of critical factors and constraints through the design phase of aluminum parts. 

Evaluating the design of aluminum part design

Succeed in new projects with aluminum extrusion.

Is your team thinking about using aluminum extrusion as material for some new parts, but wondering what your talent could benefit from aluminum material in the industrial application?  Don’t get constrained anymore as we help you succeed in the new project with aluminum extrusion from the design phase.  

why aluminum extrusion?

01. Light weight

The advantage of choosing aluminum extrusion as a material lies in its lightweight. The density of the aluminum profile is about 2.7g/cm³, which means that it is only one-third of the steel at the weight. Aluminum parts could be made thicker and stronger while still reducing the weight.

02. High Strength

The aluminum extrusion, by adding other metal compositions, could easily get its strength enhanced, which means that designers could take the advantage of hardness, the tensile strength of this material to fulfill specific demands.

03. Thermal and eletrical conductivity

The aluminum extrusion is characterized by its thermal and electrical conductivity. Considering its lightweight and high strength, it would be the most cost-effective material for such applications when compared to copper, silver, and gold. 

04. Anti-corrosion.

Aluminum extrusion could form an anodizing film when exposed to the air to protect it from corrosion and rust. Moreover, by adding finish to the material, its lifespan could be also extended when used in extreme environments, even in the ocean application.

05. Vesratile shapes

Under reasonable design, the aluminum extrusion could be made into versatile shapes as we want to fit accurately with other parts in the assembly. Your unique ideas could easily benefit from these characteristics.

06. Custom length

Parts made from aluminum extrusion could be cut into pieces of specified length, which is in tight tolerance. Thus the coming processing and assembling would be more convenient.

Boost your design with aluminum extrusion

Design with integral shape for functionability

Aluminum extrusion could be designed with complex shapes integrally, and with tight tolerances, elaborate connection, and through additional fabrication and finishing, the aluminum extrusion is produced to yield an effective product solution.

Bring down total costs in all perspectives

In the long run, choosing aluminum extrusion as the material could bring down the total costs from every perspective. 

aluminum extrusion

designing the aluminum parts

Good aluminum parts should be designed for both functionality and feasibility. Here are some factors that matter to the manufacturing feasibility, which will also be related to its cost.

Quick Learn

critical factors to feasibility and cost of your design

Circumscribing Circle Diameter(CCD)

It is the diameter of the smallest circle that entirely encloses an extrusion cross-section, which will be related to the press of the extrusion machine. The bigger the CCD, the more press that is needed for the extrusion machine. It means that more die cost should be invested and as a result, more cost will be assumed as per unit of the parts. When your design requires special CCD,  sometimes it might be possible to consider splitting the parts into two assembly-male and female parts-to joint together.

aluminum extrusion

Aluminum extrusion tolerance

The tolerance is the limitation of variation applied to the physical dimension of the aluminum extrusion. It is mutually agreed upon by the manufacturer and the customer and is critical to the assembly of the parts. Following are the critical aluminum extrusion dimensional tolerances provided by the Aluminum association:

Length, Straightness, Twist, Flatness, Surface roughness – Wire, Rod, Bar, and Profiles

Round tube – Diameter, Width, and Depth of Square, rectangular, Hexagonal an, octagonal tube, wall thickness

 You might also be interested in how these tolerances are checked:
If you want to design the aluminum parts with proper tolerances, make sure that:
1. Critical dimension tolerances are precise.
When designing the parts, make sure that you understand how the aluminum parts will match up with other assemblies, and then you can decide what dimensional tolerances should be applied. No one rule could be used for all profiles as the tolerances are affected by many factors. Still, you could follow the ISO standard tolerances in your country and mark clearly what is the critical dimensional tolerances to your parts.
2. Tight tolerance is achievable.
Tight tolerance is somehow required for a specific project. At the same time, it would also bring invisible costs due to more die investment in maintenance and modification, more extended processing, more trial production, and longer time for mass production and delivery. The extrusion manufacturer will evaluate all tolerances specified in your part file and determine which one is achievable. Just make sure that your part is fulfilling the demands of performance, at the same time, is feasible for manufacturing. 
We are capable of suggesting file modification to fit your requirement of the part function; contact us to discuss if you have a part file ready.

Wall thickness of the extrusion:

An unreasonable wall thickness design would result in material distortion during the extrusion. Here are some rules you could follow to avoid distortion resulting from unreasonable wall thickness.

01. To design the parts with uniform wall thickness.

In some complicated parts designs, the uneven wall thickness will be required, but such design will also increase the difficulty of stable extrusion quality in mass production or sample production. The uneven wall thickness will lead to deforming of the material during the extrusion. You should consider the situation and try to make your design friendly to the extrusion as much as possible. 

02. Choose a more significant wall thickness for the parts with bigger CCD.

We will usually say that the aluminum extrusion’s wall thickness would scale with the width of the cross-section or the CCD. Following this scale could help facilitate all works on parts design. When designing the parts with a cross-section at the width of 100 mm, the minimized 1 mm wall thickness would be the best option, and then you could increase it according to the actual situation. 

03. Increase the wall thickness in critical positions.

The aluminum extrusion applied in the industries always requires strength for the application, and its wall thickness plays a role in it. It is light-weighted, so the parts designer could consider more significant wall thickness in some critical dimensions to enhance the performance of the parts.

04. To introduce the smooth transition instead of a sharp edge.

In the area with a change in thickness from thin to thick, parts should be streamlined with a curved radius, creating a smooth transition to avoid the extrusion getting deformed.

05. Consider the post-processing and add additional thickness to the parts. 

Remember to add additional wall thickness in critical machining positions when post-processing, especially the machining required in your design. To the bent components, deformability is common, and such parts would require thicker wall thickness to avoid the problem.

We should evaluate complicated designs case by case, and if you have a new part file ready, you could contact us to discuss the manufacturing feasibility.

aluminum extrusion

Incorporate funtional design

By incorporating some functional design, you could easily get your ideas combined as one piece to fulfill the demands.

Here are some hints that you could follow when you are designing the new parts:

  • Incorporate grooves, webs, and ribs. On one hand, these could enhance its function and simplify its assembly with other components. On the other hand,  these could add more variation to the appearance.
  • Keep the parts’ cross-section in a symmetrical design, or minimize asymmetrical design. It makes it more feasible for production, and further in the fabrication.

Choose proper alloy to your parts

Besides, you need to choose a proper alloy for your parts manufacturing and make sure it is specified in your part file so that the manufacturers of the parts would see it and understand it clearly.

Aluminum alloy varies from 1000 series to 7000 series, of which has different compositions and characters. Choosing the proper alloy grade can be hard if you are not familiar with its variety. 

Visit our aluminum alloy page to see the complete guidance of alloy grade.

Choose proper finish to your parts

An aluminum surface finish is necessary to your parts manufacturing as it could enhance its physical properties while adding more ornament to the parts. The finish including anodizing, powder/PVDFoating, heat-transfer printing, polishing, sandblasting is available in today’s aluminum industry. 

Parts applied in different applications would fit with different finishes. When you are designing the parts, make sure that you understand in what circumstances that the parts would be applied and choose the most proper surface finish for it.

Visit our aluminum finish page to see the complete guidance of aluminum finish.

Feasibility evaluation for your design

If you have a new part design ready, we are glad to help with the feasibility evaluation to save your time and share our experiences and expertise in the aluminum extrusion industry. Once we get your new design or existing parts file, we will start the evaluation for the manufacturing feasibility and seek a solution for improvement.

01. Extrusion press

Extrusion press is one of the important factors to the success of your design. Choosing the most suitable extrusion press, not too big or too small, is the best way to produce the extrusion to promise formability, dimensional precision, plainness.

02. tooling complexity

To ensure good performance of the extrusion, tooling development requires expertise and experience. There are types of materials to produce the tooling, but the outcome and cost invested vary. You can count on our experiences on it.

03. Thickness modification

We could help tell if the thickness is feasible to your current design and suggest a modification to ensure it is more cost-effective for your purpose and expectation.

04. Design improvement

Not all designs would be successful in a shot. Once we get your designs and will review them for functionality and manufacturing feasibility. We aim at providing a more effective solution on cost and time for your business.

05. Alloy selection

Material applied to different environments calls for different aluminum alloys. We provide various options for the alloy and help identify which alloys can fit your purpose.

06. Surface treatment

Finishing is important to enhance the performance of your parts. We help choose the most suitable one for your application, including anodizing and powder/ PVDF coating, sandblasting, polishing, to meet your demands.