Aluminium has become the favoured metal particularly in the automotive and construction industries and aluminium extrusion is now one of the most popular techniques. It is a fast, convenient method of forcing pliable aluminium through a die which can produce multiple components from a single procedure increasing a company’s productivity and efficiency at a cost effective price. Many people consider the extrusion process to be a relatively new manufacturing practice but it actually has a long history.
Eighteenth Century Beginnings
Working with aluminium dates back to the 1760s although it wasn’t correctly classified as a metallic compound until 1820. Innovative designers have always been actively seeking solutions to problems and the first extrusion process was developed in the 1790s by Joseph Bramah to alleviate the hard labour involved in making water pipes from clay. Aluminium was yet to be extruded but Henri Deville launched his method of an industrial use of the metal at the Paris Academy in 1854 and went into production two years later.
Using aluminium on an industrial scale became possible through the development of the Hall-Herault process in 1886. Metal workers were beginning to realise the advantages of aluminium. In 1893 a statue of the Greek god, Anteros, was cast in aluminium and placed in Piccadilly Circus. The breakthrough for extruding aluminium finally occurred in the following year courtesy of Alexander Dick. Aluminium became more widely used for items such as bicycles which were then as essential for everyday travel as the car is today.
War and Aviation
Typically, many advancements occur from necessity in times of adverse circumstances. During World War I aluminium’s lightweight properties were harnessed to replace the wooden frames of the bi-planes which were being used by the fledgling Royal Airforce. Aviation has had a great impact on the popularity of aluminium extrusions with developments being made throughout World War II. Aluminium is now the major metal used in aircraft for the fuselage and many other parts.
The Future of Aluminium Extrusions
The car industry first used components such as radiator grilles and door handles which were made cheaply with extruded aluminium. One of the first cars to have aluminium bodywork instead of steel was the 1951 sports version of the Austin A40. Cars are now economically manufactured with aluminium from large, intricate panels. Many other industries are extruding aluminium for cost effective products. Edmo are carrying on the fine tradition of working with aluminium extrusions.