Aluminium fabrication is the creation of various structures by cutting, bending or using other assembling processes. Each aluminium type or alloy requires a unique machineability and LA Metals has the expertise to cover your fabrication needs. The different types of fabrication available for aluminium are as wide and varied as the uses that this versatile metal can be put to, from extrusion, drawing, machining, forming and
This is one of the most common fabrication processes for aluminium. The metal is initially heated to a very high temperature, to the point of being soft and malleable, but not liquid. It is then force pushed through the die or mould to create the shaped product which will then cool and harden to a strong and durable finished article. This particular process is often used for creating tubing, window and door frames, railings and brackets and is usually more cost effective than the drawing process as it requires fewer tools and materials.
The aluminium fabrication process of drawing is different to extrusion as the metal is usually pulled through the die cavity at room temperature and it is stretched to achieve the desired shape. Drawing aluminium can yield high-strength, lightweight products that aren’t compromised in integrity. The drawing process is used to create products such as pots, tubes and cans and other circular-shaped objects. However, there is a delicate balance with the stretching process as it can become weak and brittle if stretched too thin. This process is often more expensive as it requires more tools and materials to complete. But because it can be performed with automated machinery, it can continue for longer periods with less downtime and upkeep.
Another aluminium fabrication process is machining. Because aluminium is a very ductile and malleable metal it can be readily machined, although it is vital to know the exact makeup of the aluminium alloy that you’re working with as each alloy produces different challenges in the machining process. Softer alloys and pure aluminium will produce longer chips which can gum up your machinery and affect the final finish of your product, whereas harder alloys will produce smaller chips leaving an excellent surface finish and little debris to damage the tools. The cutting tools, feed rates and lubricants needed need to be exactly calibrated according to the metal type and job required.
Hot and cold forming are other methods of aluminium fabrication. Whilst hot forming allows for more complex shapes to be formed under less pressure and creates higher strength and ductility in the final product, it is more costly in terms of energy expenditure and there is a higher risk of warping as well as much less precise tolerances.
Cold forming allows for greater control of the material volume, as the excess can’t escape, and so produces up to 80% less scrap. It needs little finishing work as it has a high surface quality in the final result, although there is a greater risk of residual stress and there is less scope for customization. The product could end up needing to be heat treated.
Welding is a form of aluminium fabrication which joins two or more pieces of metal through a combination of heat and pressure. Four main types of welding are Stick or Arc, MIG, TIG and Flux Cored Arc Welding. All four methods use either an electrical current or a gas supply to create the high temperatures that join the metals together. Each type of welding has particular properties or requirements which are specific to the metals being joined, the speed required or complexity of the job in hand. Another consideration is the correct filler metal to join the parts together and expert knowledge is vital to gaining the desired finish. Welding is an extremely specialised process.
Cutting, Milling, Drilling and Routing
Aluminium is a perfect material for cutting into any desired shape, milling and even drilling, countersinking and routing, and these results can be created using a wide variety of tools; shears, circular saws, jigsaws, hacksaws and even CNC (computer numerical control) machines where the computer design automates the machine to cut the desired shape or finish into the metal. Care needs to be taken with cutting as aluminium is a great conductor of heat and so cutting fluids may be needed to prevent overheating and to wash away the waste chips, preventing clogging of the machine.
Computers can be an extremely effective method of automating machine tools to create a very precise finish. A CNC system can allow for automated methods of cutting and moving aluminium fabrications on a controller, meaning that a greater volume of output is possible where needed.
LA Metals has the expertise to create the idea or design that you may require, and aluminium is an ideal material for a huge variety of purposes. Why not talk to one of our expert sales team about what your aluminium fabrication needs are, and see what our team can produce?
Get in touch with us today.