Aluminium extrusions are a common feature in practically all industries, and the solar industry is no exception. Boasting superior strength, sustainability, malleability and longevity, aluminium is an ideal material for a wide range of solar products. Aluminium extrusions specifically allow for the creation of custom shapes and profiles.
In terms of the solar industry, let’s take a look at why aluminium extrusions are so commonly used.
What Are Aluminium Extrusions?
Aluminium extrusions are pieces of aluminium that have been shaped by forcing the material through a die. The process is called extrusion, and it is used to create and design a wide range of products, such as windows, doors and structural components.
The beauty of aluminium extrusion is that there is an endless amount of dies to choose from. The die itself is made from steel, with many describing the extrusion process as ‘squeezing toothpaste through a tube’. That’s because, the eventual shape of the aluminium extrusion will be dependent on the shape of the die, along with the pressure that is applied.
Extruded aluminium is strong, lightweight, and resistant to corrosion, making it a popular choice for many construction and manufacturing applications.
How does the aluminium extrusion process work?
- The aluminium extrusion process begins with billets, which are types of aluminium logs. The billets can be up to 22 ft in length, weighing 1200 lbs (544kg). The billets are also available in a range of diameters, in addition to alloys.
- The billet (or log) is fed into an oven which heats the billet to a temperature (of 900°F or 482°C) where it becomes malleable yet not molten. Once the log exits the oven, it is also cut to an appropriate length.
- An extrusion loader feeds the sheared billet into the extrusion press. A large ram then pushes the load with extreme pressure, which squeezes the load through the die to create the intended shape.
- The extrusion exits the press as a long-length profile. An extrusion puller grips the end of the extruded material and guides the part along the run-out table. This is designed to keep the hot extrusions from touching each other or twisting. As the extrusions make their way along the run-out table, fans will be used to cool their temperature.
- Artificial tempers may be used to reach the desired properties of the extrusions.
- Special moveable hot saws will be used to cut the aluminium extrusions to the required length. As the extrusions continue to cool, they will distort. So another process takes place to restore the shape and length. All lengths and tolerances will then be brought into the spec, ensuring consistency within each extrusion.
- The last step is to feed the extrusion through a finishing saw, which will cut the extrusions into predetermined stock lengths. Any final tempering properties will then be applied before the extrusions are ready to be shipped.
You may also be interested in: What Is Aluminium Section Bending?
Benefits of using aluminium in the solar industry
Solar is pretty incredible. Given the rising cost of living, it’s likely the popularity, not to mention the potential of solar products will continue to grow.
Solar panels are, of course, the most commonly talked about solar product. Though, as we’ve discussed on the blog before, solar windows and many other types of devices are on the horizon. This is in addition to solar lighting and other generalised products.
So why aluminium for all things solar?:
Sustainability – The whole idea of solar energy is that it’s better for the planet. But, if the materials used to build the device aren’t eco-friendly, that kind of defeats the object don’t you think? No such issues with aluminium, as it is 100% recyclable.
Longevity – Any product used within solar technology must be built to last. Aluminium is incredibly long-lasting. The surface of the material can also have powder coating applied to extend its lifespan further still.
Strong yet lightweight – Some metals (i.e. steel) are incredibly heavy, which could make them unsuitable for some applications. Aluminium benefits from possessing incredible strength yet is also lightweight.
Malleable – As explained within the aluminium extrusion process above, aluminium can be formed into an endless array of shapes. This means that whatever the solar product requires in terms of shape, diameter and overall profile, aluminium can deliver.
Aluminium Extrusions and Aluminium Bending
With ABS (Aluminium Bending Specialists) – the clue is in the name! We are the UK’s premier aluminium extrusion and non-ferrous sectioning bending company.
Some of our top services include aluminium bending, aluminium windows, arched doors, gothic arch windows, aluminium round windows, porthole windows, and commercial windows along with architectural powder coating.
If you would like any further help or guidance on aluminium extrusions within the solar industry or any of the many other services that we provide, then you’re in the right place. ABS is based in Nottinghamshire, and we operate across the UK and Ireland.
Please get in touch either by dropping us an email or giving us a call on 01623 721 172 for further help or information.