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Extrusion Design Guide The whole manufacturing and production process starts with the design.

It is here that the extrusion takes shape and features are built in to reduce weight, simplify assembly, add functionality and minimise finishing costs. Here we take advantage of the unique benefits of aluminium, in combination with the extrusion process, to make a cost-effective product with optimal functionality and an attractive appearance. Extrusion design tips - Jump to: Wall thickness - guidelines Uniform wall thickness Exceptions Soft lines Solid profiles if possible Fewer cavities in hollow profiles Profiles with deep channels Heat sinks Decorate Wall thickness When deciding how thick the walls of a profile should be, strength and optimum costefficiency are two of the main considerations. Profiles with a uniform wall thickness are the simplest to produce. However, where necessary, wall thickness within a profile can easily be varied. For example, a profiles bending strength can be increased by concentrating weight/thickness away from the centre of gravity. Cost-efficient production To optimise cost-efficiency, a profiles design should always be as production-friendly as possible. To achieve this, the profile should: have a uniform wall thickness have simple, soft lines and radiused corners be symmetrical have a small circumscribing circle not have deep, narrow channels Recommended wall thickness - guidelines Amongst the factors having an effect on wall thickness are extrusion force and speed, the choice of alloy, the shape of the profile, desired surface finish and tolerance specifications.

Uniform wall thickness It is often acceptable to have a large range of wall thicknesses within a single profile. However, a profile with uniform wall thickness is easier to extrude (below right).

In the drawing below you can see in the left hand profile that the internal and external walls have different dimensions. It is an advantage if the internal and external walls are of the same thickness (below right). This decreases die stress and improves productivity.

Exceptions It is of course perfectly acceptable for a profile to have walls of different thicknesses. For example, for strength reasons, it may be best to concentrate weight/thickness away from the centre of gravity.

Soft lines The extrusion process cannot achieve razor-sharp corners without additional fabrication. Corners should be rounded. A radius of 0.5 - 1mm is often sufficient.

A design may demand sharp internal angles, e.g. a profile to enclose a box shape. This is easily solved by incorporating a hollow moulding.

As far as possible sharp tips should be avoided. The tip can easily become wavy and uneven. Tips should therefore also be rounded.

Following extrusion, a profile with large variations in wall thickness cools unevenly. This gives rise to a visible structural unevenness that is particularly marked after anodising. Always use soft lines.

Solid profiles if possible Solid profiles reduce die costs and are often easier to produce.

Fewer cavities in hollow profiles This hollow profile is extremely complex to produce.

By replacing the hollow profile above with two telescoping profiles, the product is considerably easier to produce.

Is it essential for this profile to have two cavities? In many cases, reducing the number of cavities in a hollow profile makes it easier to extrude. This increases die stability.

Profiles with deep channels For profiles with pockets or channels, there is a basic rule that the width to height ratio should be approximately 1:3. This ensures that the strength of the die is not jeopardised.

By using large radii at the opening of the channel, and a full radius at the bottom, the ratio can be increased to 1:4.

NB! Where channel width is under 2 mm, or where a profiles design is complex, permissible channel depth must be determined on a case-by-case basis. It may be possible to increase radii and opening dimensions without compromising functionality. Here, a holder has to enclose a slide. Redesigning the holder on the left gives a more extrusion-friendly profile and improved functionality.

A profile cab be extruded "open" and then rolled into shape.

The solution below shows a narrow, deep channel and an extrusion-friendly profile.

Reduced channel depth using a step. The step is removed during rolling.

Heat sinks The use of cooling fins on profiles greatly increases the heat dissipating area. This can be further increased by giving the fins a wavy surface. Where there is forced air-cooling longitudinally along the profile, it is better to leave the fins smooth. This helps to avoid the problem of eddy formation. An undulating surface increases the heat dissipation area of fins, as shown in the close up image below.

The profile below exemplifies technical development. A large profile with deep channels yet tight tolerances are respected and there is a high quality surface finish.

Decorate Decoration has several advantages: Design Masking of imperfections Protection against damage during handling and machining.

A decorative pattern can make a plain aluminium surface more attractive. The consistent use of a pattern on all a products component profiles can help make it uniquely identifiable. There are endless possibilities for creating unique designs. A joint can be elegantly hidden by making it part of a fluted design.

Masking of imperfections Where a profile has, for example, arms and screw ports, there may be process induced shadowing (heat zones) opposite such features. Using decoration the heat zones can be completely masked.

Protection against damage Well designed decoration can also protect profiles from handling and machining damage. Die design A die is the tool shape that the aluminium is pushed through to create the profile. Dies are made of tool steel (normally sis 2242). The die aperature, which corresponds to the desired cross section of the profile, is produced by spark erosion. There are two main classes of profile solid and hollow: Solid profiles are produced using a flat, disc-shaped die.

Dies for solid profiles Hollow profiles are produced using a two-part die. In hollow dies, the mandrel (the part that shapes the cavity in the profile), is supported on a bridge. During extrusion, the metal separates around the bridge. The other part of the die shapes the outer contour of the profile. Large and medium-sized profiles are pressed through a die with only one aperture. Smaller profiles can be advantageously pressed through multi-apertured dies there may be as many as 16 apertures. Die lifetime depends on the shape and desired surface quality of the profile.

Hollow profile extrusion uses a mandrel to produce the cavity Please read more in the Extrusion Design Guide, this will provide you with useful advice when starting a new extrusion design project.

Aluminium alloys Pure aluminium is relatively soft. To overcome this, the metal can be alloyed and/or cold worked. Most of the aluminium reaching the marketplace has been alloyed with at least one other element. There is a long-established international system for identifying aluminium alloys (see the table below). The first digit in the four-digit alloy code identifies the major alloying element. The European standard uses the same codes. The table below gives the broad outline of the systems. Alloying element None (pure aluminium) Copper Manganese Silicon Magnesium Magnesium + silicon Zinc Alloy code 1000 series 2000 series 3000 series 4000 series 5000 series 6000 series 7000 series Alloy type Not hardenable Hardenable Not hardenable Not hardenable Not hardenable Hardenable Hardenable


8000 series

The 6000 series is by far the most widely used alloy in aluminium extrusion. As cold working is the only way to increase the strength of the alloys that cannot be hardened, most of these go for rolling. In extrusion, on the other hand, hardenable alloys are the most commonly used. The 6000 series, which has silicon and magnesium as the alloying elements, is by far the most widely used in extrusion. In a 7021 alloy, zinc and magnesium are responsible for the hardening effect. Some alloys use manganese, zirconium or chrome to increase toughness. Iron, which is found in all commercial aluminium, can have a negative effect on toughness and finish (amongst other things) if present in high quantities. Two hardening methods are used on alloys in the extrusion process. 'Solution' heat treatment is carried out during extrusion by carefully controlling the temperature of the emerging profile. 'Precipitation' hardening (ageing), which takes a few hours, occurs in special furnaces after the extrusion process. Amongst the factors affecting the choice of the right alloy for an extruded product are: Strength, finish, suitability for decorative anodising, corrosion resistance, suitability for machining and forming, weldability and production costs.

Aluminium alloys - Alloys for extrusion Aluminium for extrusion is mostly alloys with the following serial numbers: 1000 series - Al 6000 series - Al + Mg + Si 7000 series - Al + Zn + Mg The 1000 series is non heat treatable. These alloys are often chosen in products where high thermal and electrical conductivity are desired. They have low strength. The 6000 and 7000 series are heat treatable. They are the most commonly used extrusion

alloys and have a wide range of applications. The 6000 series has good extrudability and can be solution heat treated at the extrusion temperature. Furthermore, these alloys have medium to high strength, are easy to weld and offer good resistance to corrosion, even in marine environments. The bulk of the extruded material for load bearing constructions is made from these qualities. They are used for load bearing constructions both on land and at sea. The 6060 alloy offers medium strength and is easy to extrude even for complicated crosssections. This alloy is the most used extrusion alloy. It has good formability during bending in the T4 condition. Typical applications are extrusions for windows and doors, lighting, awnings, handrails and furniture. This material is highly suitable for anodising, both for decorative and protective reasons. The 6101 alloy offers virtually the same production possibilities as 6060. It is especially suitable for electrical applications where fairly high strength is required. The 6063 alloy has slightly higher strength than 6060, but is also marginally more difficult to extrude, especially if the cross-section is complicated. Applications are for the most part the same as for 6060. This material is well suited for anodising, both for decorative and protective purposes. The 6005A alloy has higher strength than 6063 but is slightly harder to extrude. It is suitable for anodising for protective purposes but the quality of the surface makes decorative finishing more difficult. The 6082 alloy has high strength and is suitable for extrusion of cross-sections that are not too complicated. Typical applications are load carrying structures in the ship, offshore, transport, and building industries such as platforms, bridges, stairs, scaffolds and handrails. The material is suitable for anodising for protective purposes. The 7000 series has the highest strength of the most used construction alloys. They have good weldability and obtain lower reduction of strength in heat affected zones than the 6000 series. Their corrosion resistance and formability are, however, not as good as those in the 6000 series. But by adding small amounts of Zr, Cr or Mn this can be improved. Typical applications are automotive parts, aircraft containers, bicycle frames and high speed boats. The 7108 alloy has high strength and good fatigue strength, but has a limited extrudability and formability. The alloy is susceptible to stress corrosion in areas with high stresses. The resistance to stress corrosion is slightly increased with overageing. Welding should only be carried out in areas where the loading is lower. Typical applications are structures for building and transport applications where high strength is required. The material is suitable for anodising for protective purposes.

The magnesium and silicon contents of various 6000 alloys can overlap in certain cases (see diagram above). Alloys can therefore be made up with the focus on optimal function adaptation and the ability to produce them. This process takes place continuously and today there are a number of variants of the alloy types above that have been adapted to suit specific conditions. Temperature - Mechanical Properties Care should be taken when using aluminium at high temperatures. Mechanical properties could significantly be reduced at temperatures above 100C, especially if the material has been thermally hardened or cold worked. In general the 6060, 6063, 6005A and 6082 alloys should not be used in structures at temperatures above 100C. The tensile strength decreases as the temperature increases while elongation on fracturing usually increase. It should be noted that the characteristics are dependent of alloy, temperature and time. If the designer is unfamiliar with the exact temperature characteristics for a given alloy, it can be assumed as a starting point that properties such as tension, shear and fatigue strength vary in proportion to the tensile strength. Low Temperature Properties In contrast to steel, aluminium alloys do not become brittle at low temperatures. In fact aluminium alloys increase in strength and ductility whilst impact strength remain unchanged. As the temperature decreases, below 0C, the yield strength and tensile strength of aluminium alloys increase. Alloy Summary Special material properties can be achieved with special thermal hardening. With, for example, extended heating, ie thermal hardening longer than the optimal hardening time, lower strength is achieved but in return the alloy becomes tougher and in certain cases

has greater resistance to corrosion. Condition: F - Extruded and air cooled O - Softened, annealed at 350-500C, for 1-5 hours T4 - Solution heat treated and naturally aged at 20C, for 5-10 days T6 - Solution heat treated, artificially aged

Aluminium Extrusion [Below you will find information relating to typical extrusion manufacturing plants, Sapa RC Profiles in Belgium have specialties outside the general range usually available. For more information on the extremes of profile manufacture, please visit Sapa RC Profiles Belgium] The aluminium extrusion process provides virtually unlimited opportunities to the product designer with the added benefit of low tooling costs and short lead times. It is not just in new product design where aluminium extrusions are leading the way. In existing products, substitution of other materials and processes by aluminium extrusions can result in major cost savings through fewer components, reduced finishing, simplified assembly and improved supply chain logistics. Clip-fits, screw-ports and circuit-board location grooves are just a few ways of reducing components and simplifying assembly at no additional cost. Aluminiums excellent corrosion resistance means that often no finishing is required. However, if additional corrosion resistance or aesthetics are important, there is a whole range of suitable finishing processes from polishing and brushing through to anodising and painting. The anodising process offers unique benefits in terms of protection with almost no impact on the components eventual recyclability. It can be that the low cost tooling, quick turnaround and the ability to produce a range of different length components from stock lengths can transform the supply chain. A leading supplier of electric motors shifted his production from aluminium castings. This not only revolutionised the production process but also resulted in increased strength, improved thermal conductivity and reduced risk for corrosion for the housings. Different length motor housings can be produced from stock lengths, new designs can now go from the drawing board to production in 4 to 6 weeks at only a fraction of the tooling costs. Extrusion Process The whole manufacturing and production process starts with the design. It is here that the extrusion takes shape and features are built in to reduce weight, simplify assembly, add functionality and minimise finishing costs. Here we take advantage of the unique benefits of aluminium, in combination with the extrusion process, to make a cost-effective product with optimal functionality and an attractive appearance. Read more about the extrusion process >>

Direct Extrusion The direct extrusion process can be clearly seen in the schematic diagram below. Cylindrical aluminium alloy billets of cast or extruded manufacture are heated to between 450 and 500 before being loaded into a container and the billet squeezed through a die orifce using ram pressures of up to 680MPa. The die is supported by a series of back dies and bolsters so that the main press load is transferred to a front platen.

On leaving the die the temperature of the section is more than 500C and with heat treatable alloys the quenching, or solution heat treatment, takes place in the production line. This can be by water bath, water spray or forced-draught air, with the latter being particularly useful for thin section. The approximate temperature drop during the transverse of the quench box 250C. To avoid distortion care has to be exercised in handling sections with extreme aspect ratios and large cariations in thickness. After extrusion the section is guided down the table by a puller on to a slatted moving belt. Modern Pullers are based on linear motor systems and operate on tables up to 40 metres long. On completion of an extruded length, the section is sheared at the press end and lifted from the slatted table by eccentric pivoted arms. It is then transferred by a walking beam or multi-belt transfer table to the stretcher bay where it is given a controlled stretch to straighten and remove minor missalignments. The section is then taken and cut to ordered lengths on high speed tungsten carbide tipped saws. If the material is required in the solution heat treated condition (T4) it is released at this stage. If the full strength aged material (T6) is required, it is given a precipitation treatment before release. In the case of the T5 temper, there is limited cooling at the press exit and the material goes directly to precipitation treatment. Indirect Extrusion In the traditional direct method of extrusion, as described above, the die is stationary and the press ram applies pressure on to the billet. In the indirect method, the ram carries the die and applies pressure on to the stationary billet, in the opposite direction of extrusion. There can be variation to this basic concept, but in every case the billet remains stationary in relation to the container, there by keeping friction loss to a bare minimum.

There are basically two main types of extruded shapes or profiles; Solid extrusions without cavities e.g. round bar Hollow extrusions with cavities e.g. round tube Nearly, if not all, commercial extrusion plants use a cylindrical feedstock, (aluminium billet) that is pushed through the centre of a cylindrical container. This imposes certain size restrictions and is often expressed in terms of the diameter of the circumscribing circle, (DCC). This is a measure of the extrusions overall size in cross-section and has a bearing on the material thickness and tolerances. Below are the measurement limits within which most extrusion plants can supply aluminium extrusions based on the DCC.

The smallest aluminium profiles have a minimum circumscribed circle of 5 mm and a minimum weight of 30 gr/m. Application fields of these tiny profiles : car luggage covers, sunroof and

sunshade guides, automotive trims, shower cabins, interior furniture, There are few extrusion specialists for these tiny profiles : one of them is Sapa in La Selva (Spain) Large profiles have a diameter of 320 mm, 620x50 mm or 300 x 300 mm and a weight of 65 kg/m. Application fields of these large profiles : building constructions, containers, machines, sawing benches, heat exchangers, road signs, boat masts, energy transmission, renewable energy, trains, metro, ships, yachts, Profiles in the larger shape range can sometimes be designed and extruded in thin wall thicknesses. There are few extrusion specialists for these large profiles : one of them is Sapa RC Profiles in Belgium.

Aluminium Surface Treatment Even before surface treatment, the appearance and surface quality of extruded aluminium profiles is perfectly satisfactory for many applications. Thanks to good corrosion resistance, surface treatment is rarely necessary simply to provide corrosion protection. However, there are many other reasons for treating the surfaces of profiles. Examples of attributes that can be changed by surface treatment include: surface structure colour corrosion resistance hardness wear resistance reflectivity electrical insulation Surfaces do not always need treatment after extrusion. Load-bearing structures and machine parts are examples of products where the surface quality is satisfactory without any treatment. Jump to: Profile design Mechanical surface treatment Anodising Painting Powder coating Screen printing Function specific surfaces Profile design Lines and extrusion stripes that would be noticeable on visible surfaces can easily be hidden using decoration. Such patterns or optical effects are an integral part of the profile solution created at the design stage. Refer also to Extrusion design guide - decorate.

Mechanical surface treatment Grinding Grinding is one of the methods used for improving surface quality. The process leaves a fine striation in the direction of grinding. The resultant surface can be very fine, medium or coarse. Grinding is most commonly used for furnishing and interior design products. Ground surfaces are often anodised. Grinding before painting can further improve the surface finish. Polishing Polishing smoothes the surface. Quality and gloss are determined by customer specifications. Polished surfaces normally go on to be anodised. To achieve a high-gloss finish, polishing is followed by bright anodising.

Tumbling (barrel polishing) Tumbling is mainly used for deburring. Determined by the polishing medium used in the drum, surfaces range all the way from matt to gloss.

Anodising Anodising, one of the most common surface treatments, is used to (amongst other things): maintain a products as-new appearance. enhance corrosion resistance. create a dirt repellent surface that satisfies stringent hygiene requirements. create a decorative surface with durable colour and gloss. create a touch-friendly surface. create function-specific surfaces, for example, slip surfaces, abrasion-resistant surfaces for use in machine parts, etc. give surfaces an electrically insulating coating. provide a base for the application of adhesives or printing inks. Recommended layer thickness when anodising

The anodising process There are normally four stages in the process: pre-treatment, anodising, colouring (where required) and sealing. The most frequent type of anodising is natural anodising. The electrolytic process takes place once the metal surface has received the appropriate mechanical or chemical pre-treatment and has been thoroughly cleaned. The profile is connected to a direct current source and becomes the anode (hence anodising). An

electrolytic cell is formed. Dilute sulphuric acid at room temperature is normally used as the electrolyte. During electrolysis, the surface of the metal is oxidised. The process continues until the desired layer thickness (usually 5 25 m) is reached.

Sealing The oxide layer contains a large number of pores, approx. 1011/cm2 (i.e. around a hundred billion). The diameter of the pores is between 120 and 330 . To obtain an impermeable surface, the pores have to be sealed. Sealing is achieved by treating the surface in de-ionised water at 95 98C. This changes the aluminium oxide into bohemite, the attendant increase in volume closing the pores. The oxide layer formed in natural anodising is transparent. Coloured oxide layers are also possible (see pages 108 and 109). Natural anodised profiles are delivered with matt or semi-matt surfaces. Maintenance - cleaning The anodic oxide layer has good corrosion resistance in most environments. With the proviso that the surface is cleaned, anodised profiles are virtually maintenance-free. The surface cleans easily in both water with a little neutral detergent and in white spirits. Although solvents do not affect aluminium, strong alkaline solutions should be avoided. Resistance to corrosion, discoloration and abrasion increases with layer thickness. Recommendations for suitable thicknesses are given in the table above. As the anodic oxide layer has poor cold formability, forming should take place before anodising. Cutting and drilling can be carried out after anodising but the exposed surfaces will, of course, be untreated. Welding is to be carried out before anodising. Properties of anodised aluminium Corrosion resistance is very good, especially where pH is between 4 and 9. In contact with strongly alkaline substances, surfaces can stain and be damaged. Thus, it has to be borne in mind that aluminium should be protected against lime, cement and gypsum (e.g. on building sites). Visible surfaces can be protected using tape. The hardness of the oxide layer depends on the anodising process used. Generally, the layer is harder than glass and as hard as corundum. The oxide layer is transparent. Whether natural or

coloured, its appearance depends on the viewing angle. At temperatures above 100C, fine cracks form in the oxide layer. From an aesthetic point of view, this may be an undesirable effect. The reflectivity of bright etched aluminium is high. The gloss value is 90 units (ISO 7599, 60 viewing angle). This decreases slightly with anodising. The oxide layer is an electrical insulator. A sealed, 15 m oxide layer has a breakdown voltage of 500 600 V. An anodised profile can be recycled with no pre-treatment. Before remelting, painted profiles must first have the paint removed.

Painting Painting offers a limitless choice of colours and very good colour matching (repeatability). Powder coating is now easily the most widespread method of painting aluminium profiles. To ensure the right adhesion for the paint, it is important that pre-treatment, paint application and subsequent curing are all carried out correctly. As maximum adhesion and durability are prime goals, pre-treatment is of crucial importance. Pre-treatment normally comprises degreasing and pickling of the surface, followed by a chemical treatment. The chemical treatment (chrome-free or chrome-based) gives good adhesion and effective corrosion resistance. The chrome-free titanium based process is GSB approved and is now our standard method. It has undergone extensive testing. Rinse water from the chromating process is treated in efficient cleaning plants. The sludge is drawn off and sent away for appropriate disposal. Pre-treatment is the same for both powder coating and wet painting.

Powder coating Broadly speaking, there are absolutely no limits to the choice of colour. Powder coatings are applied and cured without solvents. This gives a good work environment and has no negative impact on the external environment. In a wet coating plant, half the paint is lost through evaporation and the waste involved in over-

spraying. In a modern powder coating plant, up to 98% of the powder is used. Powder that does not adhere to the product is recirculated via a reclamation system. Powder coating qualities The prime qualities of powder coating and powder coats are: No risk of running or blistering. High repeatability. Powder coatings withstand knocks and abrasion far better than wet paint coatings. Good formability (e.g. can be formed after coating). Suitable for outdoor use good resistance to UV and corrosion. Coating thickness is normally 60 140 m. In some designs, the thickness of the coating has to be taken into consideration when determining profile dimensions and tolerances.

Screen printing Screen printing (formerly silk-screen printing) is an ancient printing method. The original design is reproduced on a transparent film that is then placed on a fine-meshed screen (usually nylon nowadays). This is then exposed and developed photographically. The screen is next fitted into a frame. Either manually or automatically, a squeegee is dragged along the screen to transfer the design onto the printing surface. Tampon printing Tampon printing is a technique that makes it possible to use screen printing on both concave and convex surfaces. Natural and colour anodising on the same profile Using screen printing, a profiles surfaces can combine natural anodising and colouring. Anodising is interrupted when the oxide layer has formed. The profile areas that are not to be printed are then coated with a special masking ink. After printing, the profile is sealed in the normal way. Unanodised surfaces on anodised profiles

A masking technique is also used when parts of a profile are to emerge unanodised from the anodising process. This preserves the surfaces electrical and thermal conductivity (the anodic oxide layer is insulating).

Function specific surfaces A function-specific surface is defined as one where certain function-related properties are of critical importance. Slip, friction and sealing surfaces Here, the surface roughness (i.e. the Ra values, axially and radially) is of the utmost importance. Cylinder tubes are an example. Direct from the press, tubes can be delivered where the insides have Ra values as low as 0.6 axially and 1.2 radially. The Ra values can, of course, be further improved by machining. Abrasion resistant surfaces These surfaces have to be anodised.

Four height adjustable legs made from telescoping aluminium profiles slip surfaces direct from the press (no machining). The product: Control cabinet lift columns from MPI.

Fabrication - Machining Aluminium not only offers many advantages due to it's material properties. Aluminium is also extensively adaptable to fabrication and machining processes. Generally tooling costs are lower than with many other metals and the high speed at which certain processes can be completed, offer even greater labour cost savings. Many additional fabrication processes that would have to be carried out on other materials, can be designed in to the extrusion process of aluminium. You can read about these in the extrusion design guide section. For all other fabrication processes there are some guide lines below. Jump to: Sawing Deburring Milling Drilling Turning Tapping (threading) Shearing (pressing/punching) Insulation (thermal break) Plastic forming (bending/stretching) Hydroforming Sawing Higher sawing speeds can be achieved with aluminium than with steel. The majority of aluminium alloys allow far greater sawing speeds and in most cases the method is an economic and very

advantageous solution. Aluminium extrusions can be sawn accurately without the formation of burrs.

The appearance of the cut, the alloy used and the extrusions strength determine the size of the teeth, the number of revolutions per minute, the number of teeth, the diameter of the blade and the feed. The number of teeth should be sufficiently large to give a clean cut effectively. When sawing thin extrusions, several teeth should always cut in the material and cutting lubricant should always be used.

Deburring Deburring is a process for removing small chips and any remaining burrs on the extrusion cut. The most common method is mechanical using a brush or a grinding machine. Abrasive tumbling, where fragments are removed by friction using circulating stones, is a suitable method for deburring smaller and medium large parts.

Milling Milling machines for fabrication of aluminium have larger teeth pitches than equivalent tools for steel and therefore a more spacious groove for chips. As with other sawing, a high cutting speed is required for a good result.

A high quality surface demands high power and stability in the tool and feed mechanism. There is a difference between end and peripheral milling machines depending on where the surface to be milled is situated in relation to the milling spindles central line. The milling diameter should be at least 20% larger than the width of the surface being treated when surface milling with an end mill. 2/3 of the surface should be moved against and 1/3 with the cutting direction during milling. The milling teeth should move in the line of feed (down-feed milling) when milling peripherally (i.e. slab milling cutter, shank-end mill, side-milling cutter or spindle moulding cutter).

Drilling As with most machining, drilling should be carried out at a high speed. When using standard bits, they should be sharpened so as to reduce the pressure required and obtain a better result.

Special bits for aluminium are only required for deep holes or soft alloys. It is important to note that the hole will be considerably larger than the bit diameter when drilling in aluminium, especially

when drilling in soft alloys. A considerable amount of heat is generated when drilling deep holes, especially if the diameter is large. Cooling is therefore essential to avoid the hole contracting.

Turning Aluminium can be turned in standard, special and automatic lathes and should be carried out at high speeds of rotation. Parts to be turned should therefore be fitted securely to avoid vibration. Spacers between the part and the mounting prevent marks on the metal and deformation.

Tapping (threading) Internal and external threads can be made using all available machining methods as well as through plastic deformation. Heat treatable alloys give especially high quality results. Taps for steel can be used for threads under 6 mm but special taps should be used for larger diameters. Internal threads can either be made with taps in series or with a single tap. The groove for chips should be large and wide, well rounded and polished as well as have a large cutting edge angle. The back surface should run radially or be undercut so that the chips do not fasten between the tool and the thread when the tap is drawn out.

Special threading taps are normally divided into three types. The first is hole polished with the pitch against the cutting line so that the chips are pushed forward in front of the tap during threading. Another type is designed so that the thread is interrupted from groove to groove. Finally there is one that has a spiral chips groove for lighter cutting with better pressure during threading. External threads are made using ordinary threading tools or screw cutting dies. The threads can also be formed plastically by rolling without any chips being formed. This creates a very strong thread. The external diameter of the part to be threaded should be 0.2 to 0.3 times the size of the screw pitch compared to the nominal thread diameter. It is very important that the centre lines of the metal part and the tool are aligned.

Shearing (pressing/punching) Press work is normally carried out in eccentric presses with a cutting (shearing) tool. The press tools for aluminium are slightly different from those designed for other metals. Punch and die of hardened tool steel are recommended.

Burrs are avoided by regularly sharpening the punch and die. Furthermore, the cutting force required can be reduced considerably if the punchs surface is ground at an angle (shear). The angle ground part should at the most be equivalent to the thickness of the part of the material that is to be cut out. In certain cases, especially when punching holes, it can be an advantage to grind the punch at an angle while keeping the die flat. The punch should be left flat irrespective of the shape of the die if the part cut out is to be used. It is important to maintain the correct clearance between the punch and the die during the actual cutting process. The clearance is determined by the materials composition and the thickness of the cut material.

Insulation (thermal break) Aluminiums high coefficient of thermal conductivity is not so desirable in applications where low heat transfer is wanted such as in windows. There are many ways of insulating. Two techniques that greatly reduce the ability to conduct are commonly used. In the first the extrusion is pressed in one piece and a closed space in the extrusion is filled with polyurethane. When the polyurethane has set, the extrusion is divided into two parts held together by the polyurethane. In this way the thermal bridge is interrupted (fill and mill).

In the other method two extrusions are joined using polypropylene or polyamide strips. These are rolled into position. This way of insulating makes it possible to use different colours on the inside and outside of the window.

Plastic forming (bending/stretching) Aluminium extrusions can be bent using the same equipment as for other metals. Bending can take place with the hardened metal for larger radii but smaller ones usually require soft annealed or T4 (half-hardened) metal. It is possible to harden to full strength after bending. Bending should be carried out before anodising if a complete anodised layer without cracks is required. The need for bending should be taken into consideration at the design stage. Large batches should not be produced in the T4 condition as there is a risk that the material will be left standing and will self-harden. The material in the bend can be harder than the rest in the event of high stresses, for example with very small radii. This is important if the original material is in the T4 condition and is to be hardened to T6. In such cases the bend can be annealed. Draw bending Draw bending is the most commonly used bending method. It is suitable for tight radii and has a high degree of repeatability. Using an adjustable clamping jaw, the work piece is fixed against a rotating die. The clamping jaw and the tool are shaped to reproduce the profiles cross section.

The work piece rotates with the die. This stretches the material on the outside of the profile and compresses that on the inside. To prevent scratches and clamping marks on the profile, the tools are usually made of plastic. Anodised profiles: Being hard and brittle, the oxide layer forms many fine cracks during bending. If a high quality surface is required, it is recommended that anodising is left until after bending.

Roller bending Roller bending is used for forming large radii in the work piece. The work piece is rolled between two drive rollers and a pressure roller. The shape presented by the rollers corresponds to the profiles cross section. Vertical adjustment of the upper roller (the pressure roller) alters the radius of the bend. Thus, in CNC machines, a number of different radii can easily be pressed into a single work piece. As rollers are most usually made of steel, lubrication is often required to prevent cutting and scratching of the profile.

Stretch bending Stretch bending gives very high three-dimensional shape accuracy. The work piece is fixed between two clamping jaws and then gradually stretched over a shaping block. The shape presented by the block corresponds to the profiles cross-section. The metal is stretched to its upper elastic limit and spring-back is thus negligible. As the tooling investment is relatively high, stretch bending is best suited to large series production.

Press bending Press bending (point bending) is suitable for simple bending of large series. The work piece is formed using compressive force. An upper and a lower die are contoured to give the work piece the desired shape. Pressure is applied by some form of excentric or hydraulic press. Depending on the exterior of the part to be pressed, dies can be steel or


Hydroforming Hydroforming allows us to shape an aluminium profile three-dimensionally in a single operation. The process offers as yet unexplored possibilities. All, or parts, of a profiles cross section can be tailored using hydroforming. In a single operation, complex parts can be created with very good dimensional accuracy. In a single hydroforming operation, it is also possible to make local changes such as domes or holes. By eliminating several machining operations, lead times can be shortened. The principle - The profile is placed in a die that has an inner geometry exactly replicating the shape of the finished component. The die is locked securely in position and hydrostatic pressure is then set up in the pipe (profile). As the profile is pressed against the die, it takes up the shape of the die.

It has become clear that hydroforming opens the way to unique solutions for a wide range of design problems.

Aluminium's corrosion resistance Untreated aluminium has very good corrosion resistance in most environments. This is primarily because aluminium spontaneously forms a thin but effective oxide layer that prevents further oxidation. Aluminium oxide is impermeable and, unlike the oxide layers on many other metals, it adheres strongly to the parent metal. If damaged mechanically, aluminiums oxide layer repairs itself immediately. This oxide layer is one of the main reasons for aluminiums good corrosion properties. The layer is stable in the general pH range 4 9. Jump to: Galvanic corrosion Pitting Crevice corrosion Aluminium in the open air Aluminium in soil Aluminium in water Aluminium and alkaline building materials Aluminium and chemicals Aluminium and dirt Aluminium and fasteners Corrosion checklist The most common types of corrosion are: galvanic corrosion pitting crevice corrosion Stress corrosion, which leads to crack formation, is a more special type of corrosion. It occurs primarily in high-strength alloys (e.g. AlZnMg alloys) where these are subjected to prolonged tensile stress in the presence of a corrosive medium. This type of corrosion does not normally occur in common AlMgSi alloys.

Galvanic corrosion Galvanic corrosion may occur where there is both metallic contact and an electrolytic bridge between different metals. The least noble metal in the combination becomes the anode and corrodes. The most noble of the metals becomes the cathode and is protected against corrosion. In most combinations with other metals, aluminium is the least noble metal. Thus, aluminium presents a greater risk of galvanic corrosion than most other structural materials. However, the risk is less than is generally supposed.

Close-up of galvanic corrosion in an aluminium rail post (25 years use). The rectangular hollow profile was held in place by a carbon steel bolt. The contact surfaces between the steel and the aluminium were often wet and attack was aggravated by wintertime salting.

Galvanic corrosion of aluminium occurs: Only where there is contact with a more noble metal (or other electron conductor with a higher chemical potential than aluminium, e.g. graphite). While, at the same time, there is an electrolyte (with good conductivity) between the metals. Galvanic corrosion does not occur in dry, indoor atmospheres. Nor is the risk great in rural atmospheres. However, the risk of galvanic corrosion must always be taken into account in environments with high chloride levels, e.g. areas bordering the sea. Copper, carbon steel and even stainless steel can here initiate galvanic corrosion. Problems can also occur where the metallic combination is galvanised steel and aluminium. The zinc coating of the galvanised steel will, at first, prevent the aluminium being attacked. However, this protection disappears when the steel surface is exposed after the consumption of the zinc. As it has a thicker zinc coating than electroplated material, hot dip galvanised material gives longer protection. Thus, in combination with aluminium in aggressive environments, hot dip galvanised material should be used. Preventing galvanic corrosion The risk of galvanic corrosion should not be exaggerated corrosion does not occur in dry, indoor atmospheres and the risk is not great in rural atmospheres. Electrical insulation Where different metals are used in combination, galvanic corrosion can be prevented by electrically insulating them from each other. The insulation has to break all contact between the metals. The illustration shows a solution for bolt joints.

Breaking the electrolytic bridge In large constructions, where insulation is difficult, an alternative solution is to prevent an electrolytic bridge forming between the metals. Painting is one way of doing this. Here, it is often best to coat the cathode surface (i.e. the most noble metal). A further solution is to use an insulating layer between the metals. Cathodic protection Cathodic protection can be gained in two ways. The most common is to mount an anode of a less noble material in direct metallic contact with the aluminium object to be protected. The less noble material sacrifices itself (i.e. corrodes) for the aluminium. It is thus referred to as a sacrificial anode. For the above to work, there also has to be liquid contact between the surface to be protected and the sacrificial anode. Zinc or magnesium anodes are often used for aluminium. Another way of obtaining cathodic protection is to connect the aluminium object to the negative pole of an exterior DC voltage source. The illustration below shows the cathodic protection of an outboard motor.

Pitting For aluminium, pitting is by far the most common type of corrosion. It occurs only in the presence of an electrolyte (either water or moisture) containing dissolved salts, usually chlorides.

The corrosion generally shows itself as extremely small pits that, in the open air, reach a maximum penetration of a minor fraction of the metals thickness. Penetration may be greater in water and soil. As the products of corrosion often cover the points of attack, visible pits are rarely evident on aluminium surfaces. Preventing pitting Pitting is primarily an aesthetic problem that, practically speaking, never affects strength. Attack is, of course, more severe on untreated aluminium. Surface treatment (anodising, painting or other coating methods) counteracts pitting. Cleaning is necessary to maintain the treated surfaces attractive appearance and its corrosion protection. Rinsing with water is often sufficient. Alkaline detergents should be used with care. Mild alkaline detergents are now available. These are used in, amongst other areas, the industrial cleaning of aluminium. Pitting can be prevented by cathodic protection (above). It is also important to design profiles so that they dry easily.

Avoid angles and pockets in which water can collect.

Instead, use a shape that promotes draining.

Stagnant water is avoided by suitably inclining the profile and/or providing drain holes. The ventilation of "closed" constructions reduces the risk of condensation.

Crevice corrosion Crevice corrosion can occur in narrow, liquid-filled crevices. The likelihood of this type of corrosion occurring in extruded profiles is small. However, significant crevice corrosion can occur in marine atmospheres, or on the exteriors of vehicles. During transport and storage, water sometimes collects in the crevices between superjacent aluminium surfaces and leads to superficial corrosion (water staining).

The source of this water is rain or condensation that, through capillary action, is sucked in between the metal surfaces. Condensation can form when cold material is taken into warm premises. The difference between night and day temperatures can also create condensation where aluminium is stored outdoors under tarpaulins that provide a tight seal. Preventing crevice corrosion Using sealing compounds or double-sided tapes before joining two components prevents water from penetrating into the gaps. In some cases, rivets or screws can be replaced by, or combined with, adhesive bonding. This counteracts the formation of crevices.

Aluminium in the open air The corrosion of metals in the open air depends on the so-called time of wetness and the composition of the surface electrolytes. The time of wetness refers to the period during which a metals surface is sufficiently wet for corrosion to occur. The time of wetness is normally considered to be when relative humidity exceeds 80% and, at the same time, the temperature is above 0C (e.g. when condensation forms). In normal rural atmospheres, and in moderately sulphurous atmospheres, aluminiums durability is excellent. In highly sulphurous atmospheres, minor pitting may occur. However, generally speaking, the durability of aluminium is superior to that of carbon steel or galvanised steel. The presence of salts (particularly chlorides) in the air reduces aluminiums durability, but

less than is the case for most other construction materials. Maximum pit depth is generally only a fraction of the thickness of the material. Thus, in marked contrast to carbon steel, strength properties remain practically unchanged. The picture shows an untreated sample after 20 years off the south-west coast of Sweden. UV radiation, sulphuric acid and nitric acid in combination with chlorides have not left any deep marks. After 22 years in a marine atmosphere, examination of an untreated aluminium sample (alloy AA 6063) showed that corrosion attack was so limited (max. depth approx. 0.15 mm) that strength was not affected.

Aluminium in soil Soil is not a uniform material. Mineral composition, moisture content, pH, presence of organic materials and electrical conductivity can all vary widely from site to site. These differences make it difficult to predict a metals durability in soil. Furthermore, other factors (e.g. stray currents from DC voltage sources) can also affect durability. Aluminiums corrosion properties in soil very much depend on the soils moisture, resistivity and pH value. Unfortunately, present knowledge about the corrosiveness of different types of soils is not comprehensive. When using aluminium in soil, some form of protective treatment, e.g. a bitumen coating, is recommended. Corrosion can also be prevented by cathodic protection.

Bitumen coating prevents corrosion

Aluminium in water A metals corrosion in water is largely dependent on the composition of the water. For aluminium, it is the presence of chlorides and heavy metals that has the greatest effect on durability.

In natural fresh water and drinking water, aluminium may be subject to pitting. However, with regular drying and cleaning, the risk of harmful attack is small. Pots, pans and other household equipment can be used for decades without there being any pitting. The likelihood of harmful attack increases where water is stagnant and the material is wet for long periods. In sea water, AlMg alloys with over 2.5% Mg (and AlMgSi alloys) show particularly good durability. Copper containing alloys should be avoided. Where they are used, they must be given effective corrosion protection. When correct attention has been paid to design, especially as regards use with other materials (and the risk of galvanic corrosion), aluminium is an excellent material in a marine context. One example of this is the extensive use of aluminium in many types of ships and boats. Cathodic protection against corrosion is widely used here.

Aluminium and alkaline building materials Splashes of damp alkaline building materials, e.g. mortar and concrete, leave superficial but visible stains on aluminium surfaces. As these stains are difficult to remove, visible aluminium surfaces should be protected on, for example, building sites. Other materials also require the same sort of protection. Aluminium cast into concrete is similarly attacked. This increases the adhesion between the materials. Once the concrete has set (dried), there is normally no corrosion. However, where moisture persists, corrosion may develop. The volume of the products generated by corrosion can give rise to cracks in the concrete. This type of corrosion can be effectively prevented by coating the aluminium with bitumen or a paint that tolerates alkaline environments. As the oxide layer is not stable in strongly alkaline environments, anodising does not improve durability here.

Provided that the concrete has set, aluminium does not need to be protected in dry, indoor atmospheres.

Aluminium and chemicals Thanks to the protective properties of the natural oxide layer, aluminium shows good resistance to many chemicals. However, low or high pH values (less than 4 and more than 9) lead to the oxide layer dissolving and, consequently, rapid corrosion of the aluminium. Inorganic acids and strong alkaline solutions are thus very corrosive for aluminium. Exceptions to the above are concentrated nitric acid and solutions of ammonia. These do not attack aluminium. In moderately alkaline water solutions, corrosion can be hindered by using silicates as inhibitors. Such kinds of inhibitors are normally included in dishwasher detergents. Most inorganic salts are not markedly corrosive for aluminium. Heavy metal salts form an exception here. These can give rise to serious galvanic corrosion due to the reduction of heavy metals (e.g. copper and mercury) on aluminium surfaces. Aluminium has very good resistance to many organic compounds. Aluminium equipment is used in the production and storage of many chemicals.

Aluminium and dirt Coatings or build-ups of dirt on the metals surface can reduce durability to a certain extent. Very often, this is attributable to the surface now being exposed to moisture for considerable periods. Thus, depending on the degree of contamination, dirty surfaces should be cleaned once or twice a year.

Aluminium and fasteners When choosing fasteners for use with aluminium, special attention should be paid to avoiding galvanic corrosion and crevice corrosion (above). Galvanic corrosion of aluminium occurs where there is metallic contact with a more noble metal. It should be pointed out that, indoors and in other dry atmospheres, aluminium can be in permanent contact with brass and carbon steel with no risk of galvanic corrosion. The pictures below show the results of an accelerated corrosion test, the Volvo indoor Corrosion Test (VICT). The test cycle is 12 weeks and corresponds to five year's use of a car in a moderately large town.

Left - Zinc/iron-coated steel nut and bolt. The fastener is completely rusted. In the aluminium, 0.43 mm deep pits have formed. Right - Dacrolit-coated steel nut and bolt. The fastener has not been attacked. No pits have formed in the aluminium. At-a-glance guide for choosing fasteners The table below lists some of the most common materials and coatings for fasteners used with aluminium. It also gives an evaluation of corrosion resistance in different environments. Substrate material Carbon steel Surface treatment Electroplated (Zn/Ni) approx. 7 10 m + yellow chromating. Electroplated (Zn/Fe) approx. 7 10 m + yellow chromating. Atmospheres Marine Industrial Rural ++ +++ +++ Used in the automotive industry. Good protection against galvanic corrosion. +++ Negative results on vehicles. The Zn layer disappears relatively quickly and galvanic corrosion then sets in. +++ Used primarily in the building industry. The Zn coating is principally to reduce friction (bolt threads). +++ Used primarily in the building industry. The Dacrolit coating is used to reduce friction (bolt threads) and the risk of galvanic corrosion. +++ Used primarily in the Comments

Carbon steel

Stainless steel, Electroplated, 18/8 approx. 7 10 m Zn + yellow or bright chromating. Stainless steel, Dacrolit Zn and 18/8 Al flakes in an organic binder containing, amongst other things, chromate. Stainless steel, Electroplated







(Zn/Fe) 7 10 m + yellow or bright chromating. Dacrolit Zn and Al flakes in an organic binder containing, amongst other things, chromate. Geomet Zn and Al flakes in a matrix of Si, Zn and Al oxides. Chrome-free. ++ +++

building industry.

Carbon steel

+++ Used primarily on vehicles and, in some cases, buildings. Withstands 12 weeks VICT (Volvo Indoor Corrosion Test)

Carbon steel



+++ Very good corrosion resistance shown in tests in the automotive industry. Suppliers state that it withstands 1,000 hours in a neutral salt spray (ISO 9227). +++ Used in the automotive industry, Good results in acetic acid and neutral salt spray (ISO 9227).

Carbon steel

Polyseal Zn phosphating approx. 3 m + organic protection layer (seal) + organic top coat. No coating.


Aluminium rivet with electroplated steel mandrel. Stainless steel (18/8) rivet with stainless steel mandrel.



+++ Used in the building industry.

No coating.


+++ Galvanic corrosion in marine atmospheres.

Evaluations: +++ = very good; ++ = good; + = acceptable with moderate demands as regards lifetime (up to 10 years) and surface finish.

Corrosion checklist The summary below is intended to give a picture, from the perspective of durability, of aluminium as a construction material. Used correctly, aluminium has a very long life. Environments Rural atmosphere Aluminium has excellent durability.

Moderately sulphurous atmosphere Highly sulphurous and marine atmosphere

Aluminium has excellent durability. Superficial pitting can occur. Nonetheless, durability is generally superior to that of carbon steel and galvanised steel. The design should promote drying, e.g. good drainage. Avoid having unprotected aluminium in protracted contact with stagnant water. Avoid pockets where dirt can collect and keep the material wet for protracted periods.

Corrosion problems can be overcome Profile design

pH values Galvanic corrosion

Low (under 4) and high (over 9) values should, in principle, be avoided. In severe environments, especially those with a high chloride content, attention must be paid to the risk of galvanic corrosion. Some form of insulation between aluminium and more noble metals (e.g. carbon steel, stainless steel, copper) is recommended. In closed, liquid containing systems, inhibitors can often be used to provide corrosion protection.

Closed system (liquid)

Severe, wet environments In difficult, wet environments, the use of cathodic protection should be considered.

Joining aluminium Using the opportunities provided by the extrusion process for creative designs gives strong, stable, rapid and effective joints. Whether it is for joining one extrusion to another or for joining an extrusion to another material. There are many advantages to be obtained by joining several smaller extrusions to a larger unit. Handling is easier. Pressing, surface treatment and a large amount of the machining can be done on a more rational basis. Smaller extrusions can be produced with less material thickness, better accuracy and in many cases lower die costs. Jump to: Screw ports Tracks for nuts or bolt heads Snap fit joints Joining profile to profile Telescoping Latitudinal joining

Hinges T-joints Corner joints Joining with other materials Riveting End caps Adhesive bonding Fusion welding Friction stir welding Screw ports

The screw port can be threaded in the normal way for machine screws.

Most commonly, screw ports are used directly for self-tapping screws. In these cases, the screw ports will have projections to centre the screws. Port diameters for self-tapping screws Screw no. ST 3.5 (B6) st 4.2 (B8) Port diam. D 3.1 0.15 3.8 0.15 Wall thickness Screw head t,min. clearance 1.5 1.5 1.5 2.0 2.0 4.2 5.0 5.8 6.6 7.4

ST 4.8 (B10) 4.2 0.2 ST 5.5 (B12) 4.9 0.2 ST 6.3 (B14) 5.6 0.2

Here, a component is being fitted Closed screw ports : Where the design requires a more robust by screwing through a port at right screw (e.g. M8), the screw port can be closed. The port is to be angles to the profile. In such cases, dimensioned for thread cutting or for self-tapping metric screws. the port should have a shoulder.

Placing screw ports at corners saves material. To ensure that screw head does not protrude beyond the contours of the profile at outer corners, pay special attention to screw head diameter.

A screw port along the length of as profile facilitates "stepless fastening" , i.e. screw joints can be made at any point along the profile. Suitable dimensions are given iun the table below.

Screw port dimensions screws at 90 to the profile ST 3.5 (B6) 2.6 st 4.2 (B8) 3.1 ST 4.8 (B10) 3.6 ST 5.5 (B12) 4.2 ST 6.3 (B14) 4.7

Upper joint: A hollow profile joined to another profile via a screw port. To avoid unwanted flexing in the joint, the screw is driven directly through the bottom of the hollow profile. A single screw is sufficient - the hollow profile's flanges stabilise the design. After step drilling, the hole through which the screw is introduced can be hidden using a plastic plug.

Lower joint : The same solution, but without a hollow profile. The U-profile has tracks for the insertion of, for example, a metal or foil laminate strip.

Solutions with special screws that fill the screw head clearance hole are common in, for example, the furniture industry.

One way of avoiding step drilling and visible holes is to replace the hollow profile with two snap-fit profiles. This solution is often used in handrails.

This placement of the screw ports increases bending strength.

Tracks for nuts or bolt heads

Continuous tracks enable stepless fastening with no need to machine the profile. Dimensions for various nuts and bolt heads are given below.

If a standard bolt is too long, it is not always necessary to find a shorter bolt. The track for the nut can easily be designed/extruded as shown above. Dimensions - nut/bolt tracks Size M4 M5 M6 M8 M10 M12 M14 M16 Width, W Width, W Height, H (iso) (din) 7.3 0.15 8.3 0.15 10.3 0.2 13.4 0.2 4.0 5.5 6.0 8.0 Gap, G 4.4 5.4 6.4 8.5 10.7 12.7 15.0 17.0

16.5 0.3 17.5 0.3 9.5 18.5 0.3 19.5 0.3 12.0 21.7 0.4 22.7 0.4 14.0 24.7 0.4 16.0

Using special nuts/bolts, fastning If a set c/c distance between the bolt holes is required, a flat bar can take place without having to with precut threads can be put in the track. slide the nut/bolt in from the end of the track. There are no accepted standards, but various solutions are available from screw and fastener manufacturers.

The profile can be stamped to fix fasteners longitudinally in position. Snap-Fit joints Aluminium's elasticity is highly suited to snap-fit joints. These give far quicker assembly than, for example, screw or welded joints. Snap-fit joints are widely used in a range of industrues.

In openable snap-fit joints, the hook angle is = 45 In permanent snap-fit joints, the hook angle is = 0 (or negative). The length of the snap-fit joint has an effect on design.

A permanent snap-fit joint. Dimensions and tolerances must be decided on a caseby-case basis. The length of the hooking arm should not be under 15 mm. In some cases, long hooking arms may have to be extruded pre-stressed. This can eliminate the need for special tolerances.

If a design cannot accomodate hooking arms of sufficient length, the sprung part of the profile should be replaced by plastic clips or similar. The same applies if the joint is to be repeatedly opened. Aluminium's fatigue properties do not permit frequent changes in loading.

If a snap-fitting is difficult to assemble/disassemble, punching a section out of the hooking arm may be the solution.

Amongst other factors, the design of the joint Examples of snap-fit joints. is determined by whether or not it is to be openable. This joint can be opened using, for example, a screwdriver in the outer track.

Plate A has a punched, rectangular hole. Mounting profile B is pushed into the hole until a snap-fit joint is formed. Lamella profile C is then pushed into profile B to form another snap-fit joint. Exploiting the spaceunder the plate makes it possible to have sufficently long hooking arms.

The hinge profile A (cut from a longer profile_ forms a snap-fit joint with main profile B. Punched hole C also provides longitudinal locking. Sufficient spring is generated in the hooking arm by springing the main profile at d.

Joining Profile to Profile Longitudinal joining

Joining with a standard

Joining with a fluted, sprung profile in purpose-designed channels.

A sprung inner section that compresses to Anchoring joined profiles by welding - the illustration allow assembly. For easy entry, the inner shows solutions with a solid profile and a hollow profile profile (A) is believed and cut parallel to respectively. the main profiles. Tolerances are not critical in this solution. The result is a play-free joint.

Longitudinal joining via asymmetrically located screw ports and a pre-drilled spacer. The profiles are turned so that the screws do not foul each other.

Longitudinal joining via longitudinal screw joints. A gap slightly longer than the length of the screw is milled in the screw port.

Longitudinal jointing using the spring and friction in a snap-fit design. Telescoping

To ensure smooth abd silent operation, platic components are often used in telescoping designs. This design features stepless height adjustment using a nut (a threaded flat bar could also be used) that runs freely in its track. Tightening the fasteners locks the height and removes any play in the joint.

Height adjustment where the inner profile has a fixed thread (blind rivet nut) and the outer profile has a punched or extruded channel.

Height adjustment where the outer profile has a fixed thread (blind rivet nut) and the bolt clamps the innter profile in position.

Telescope solution with stepless clamping

Telescope solution with sping locking.

Where a play-free joint is essential (e.g. a single leg stand), plastic gauge blocks are used.

Plastic is often an excellent solution where Plastic wheels used part of the fastening in the outer components have to be able to slide. A profile serve as spacers and give smooth, play-free plastic profile can be a part of a telescoping telescoping. assembly. Latitudinal joining Larger cross-sectional areas can be economically created by joining a number of profiles together. This solution is often chosen because it is easier to machine smaller profiles individually rather than a single construction as a whole.

Mechanical joints, adhesive bonding, fusion welding and, as illustrated above, Friction Stir Welding. can all be used for latitudinal joining.

Using a flat bar, bracket or similar to join profiles together gives good flatness.

Latitudinal joining using screw ports.

Locking using a splined dowel pin.

Locking using a tubular spring pin.

Latitudinal joining with a clamp.

Latitudinal joining with a snap-fit.

Latitudinal joining with a snap-fit.

Joining using an end plate that holds the sections together.

Joining by stamping (creates visible deformations). Latitudinal joining using dovetail tracks. Note the shape to achieve acceptable precision, sharp-tipped corners must be avoided.


A simple hinge - the ball's diameter should If the hinge has a screw port, it can be never be less than 5 mm. easily locked longitudinally using plastic inserts and self-tapping screws.

A hinge with approximately 110 degrees opening.

Two profiles with 180 degrees opening.

Self-locking with approx. 180 degrees opening.

Chamfering the ball enables hinge disassembly as shown above.

Complex hinging for securing lorry tarpaulins. The hinge is made from three profiles joined together.

Both parts of this hinge are made from a single profile.

Three-part hinge made from a single profile.

Two-part hinge made from a single profile A pin in each end gives wide opening and with identical machining. and a cost-effecient solution.

A longitudinally adjustable hinge.

Hinges can be made from other materials than aluminium. The illustrations shows a solution where a plastic or rubber profile can be used.


A simple T-joint using screw ports.

A strong jpont with flanges to take up

torsional stress.

Screw ports used to join tubular and rectangular profiles.

To avoid flexing in the joint, the screws are driven directly through the inner wall. The outer clearance holes are plugged with standard plastic caps.

Fitting to a wall or another profile: The end fastener is cut from a longer profile and secured with screws.

Joining of a round tube and a transverse profile : The transverse tube comprises two profiles held together by snap-fit joint. This fastening avoids troublesome mating of the contours.

A simple and stable soultion for T and corner jointing of square tubes.

In the furniture and interior decoration industry, special fasteners are used where joints must be easy to take apart. The fasteners often run in a nut track and there is this thus a stepless fit with the mounting

profile. Examples of other special fasteners.

Expansion locking using a wedge shape. A simple T-joint using nut tracks, rightangled brackets and bolts.

Expansion locking using splined pins.

Corner joints

There are various types of brackets that are exremely suitable for corner joints where the strength and rigidity requirements are high. The brackets are

A special machine or an excentric press is used in the stamping method of connecting profiles. The method is particularly common in long production

usually cut from long aluminium profiles. runs. Brackets are usually designed to allow several fitting methods. The corner bracket above has both screw ports (for side screws) and channels for stamping. Fitting method can then be chosen to suit equipment, series size, etc.

In picture frames and other light constructions, the corner joint comprises two flat right-angled brackets, one of them with threaded holes.

This corner joint for square tubes uses self-tapping screws in the transverse screw ports.

Cast metal and plastic ties are a solution Tie using sprung steel clips. that is especially common in long runs and where jointing has to be provided in more than two directions. Various ties are available in standard formats.

Ties are often rectangular. The main profile's contours are, of course,

A torsionally rigid joint using a single screw. As shown, one of the profiles has

immaterial as long as there is an inner, rectangular chamber.

flanges. This type of corner joint is used in, amongst other things, TV stands.

This stable corner joint, which has precise The flanges of the corner profile are angles and good design, involves bolted to the insides of the frame profiles. relativelyeasy machining only. The frame profiles need only be cut at 90 degreees to ensure a snug fit. Where corners are visible, a large radius (as shown by the broken line) gives an attractively rounded design.

These frame profiles have screw ports and, to give a snug fit, need only be cut at 90 degrees when used with the corner profile shown in the illustration. The flanges of the corner profile create channels for the fitting of an outer profile (free choice of radius). Plastic caps are used to cover the ends.

A U-section with a punched or sawn cut. The saw cut should go down into the base of the profile. This can then be folded to give a fame with slightly rounded corners. The frame is locked using a joint on either a long or a short side.

A corner joint that can be used in, for example, a table. The plate and joint combination represents a very stable solution.

Corner joint using pre-mounted bolts in two of the profiles. The bolts are tightened from above using a special tool. Joining with other materials

Printed circuit boards, metal sheets and Protrusions punched into the profile/plate other plates can be fitted in channels in the ensure radial locking. profile. A small deformation (catch) in the plate or the channel ensures good locking.

Rattle-free locking through having the Glass and metal plates, etc. can be locked profile's arms actively grip the plate/sheet. in place using a sprung, special plastic profile (the yellow profile)

A snap-fit joint can be used with formed plates.

A standard method of glazing windows and doors. Rubber profiles, which form snap-fits with the aluminium profiles, act as spacers for the glass. This method can also be used for other plates.

The "Christmas tree model" is a simple

A snap-fit using track in the wooden

solution when jointing with wood.


Special screws with "snap-fit heads" can Short snap-fit brackets can be be used when jointing with woods or metal screwed/nailed into wood strips. plates.

A snap-fit joint bewtween aluminium and plastic profiles.

To deal with high local surface loads and reduce wear (e.d. from a rolling steel wheel), a steel strip can be inserted in profiles.


Examples of blind rivet nuts and press nuts.

In a long profile, it is often uneconomic to build extra thickness simply to provide longer threads.

Using blind rivet nuts or press nuts, all that is required is a hole.

The bling rivet nut is fitted from the outside using a special rivet gun. Press nuts: These are fitted from the back using, for example, an excentric press.

Sliding pop riveting in a longitudinal profile channel.

Pop riveting at the end of a screw port.

Self-punching rivets countersink and join in a single operation.

Riveting without rivets : This method, which is highly suitable for long runs, can join different materials of different

wall thicknesses. A crimping press is used. End caps

Screws and screw ports are the most common method of securing metal or plastic end caps to box profiles.

If the end cap and the profile have the same nominal outer dimensions, any departures from tolerance specifications are clearly visible. The places where metal has been cut become particularly prominent if the profile is surface treated. One solution is to make the end cap slightly bigger than the main profile.

If the main profile is long, it is more costefficient not to have screw ports in this but in a purpose-designed end cap. Slight displacement of the holes in the main profile (relative to the screw ports) ensures that a force is set up pulling the end cap into the main profile.

This end cap wedges into the main profile. There is a strong press-fit between the end cap's arms and the channels in the main profile.

Channels in the main profile for the fitting An end cap with sprung arms - the cap is of an end cap with a sprung arm. removable .

This plastic end cap is held in place by stamped catches in the profile.

Cast metal or plastic end caps are suitable for long runs where the shape of the main profile is complex or where a highly rounded end cap is required. Two end caps can be held together using long screws or draw bars. Screw ports with adequate clearance are a suitable way of giding the screws. The result is one end cap with no visible screws. This is a good solution in, for example, fascias.

Adhesive bonding After steel, aluminium is the metal that is most frequently bonded. Though, for example, far more cars are produced than aeroplanes, the adhesive bonding of aluminium in the aero-industry has attracted the most detailed research. Aeroplanes have used bonded joints since the mid 40s. Nowadays, the bonding of aluminium is even used for load-bearing components in aircraft. Of course, there are many more down-to-earth examples of the use of bonded aluminium joints. Volvos roof rack rail is just one of these.

Many different adhesives, pretreatments and bonding methods have been developed. Selecting the right one is not always easy. Nor is it risk-free to simply start bonding without adequate information. Essential knowledge The intermolecular forces that determine whether bonding is possible exert their pull over a maximum range of 0.5 nm (one half of a millionth of a millimetre). If the surface is contaminated or is made up of low strength oxides exceeding this critical thickness, there will be no attraction between the adhesive and the aluminium profile. For good and consistent bonds, the joint surface must be known, reproducible and clean. The adhesive must wet the entire surface that is to be bonded. To do this, it has to have a lower surface tension than the material being bonded. Otherwise, the adhesive will form droplets rather than spread evenly over the surface. All adhesives wet aluminium. To bond aluminium profiles to another material, the adhesive must be able to wet this material too. If the other material is a plastic, it can sometimes be diffi cult to fi nd an adhesive with a lower surface tension. [bild 58.1] Traditional tongue and groove. [bild 58.1] Tongue and groove with a channel into which the locking hook can be hammered or rolled. [bild 58.1] A variant of the adhesive trap and locking hook method Joint design Adhesive bonding involves the formation of a plastic or rubber load-carrying element. The material in the cured adhesive bond is not as strong as the aluminium. This can be compensated for by designing profi le solutions that provide large contact surfaces. Aluminium profiles can be easily worked into a wide range of shapes. Where tongue and groove type bonded joints are a possibility, they may be the best solution. The illustrations above give some ideas and guidance on joint design. Adhesives cope best with shearing forces. Joints subjected to tensional forces are often unsuitable for high loads. Peeling and cleaving forces concentrate stress on a small part

of the joint and should be avoided whenever possible Choice of adhesive Bonded joints distribute stress relatively well. However, very rarely is stress evenly distributed across the entire surface area of a bonded joint. As a rule, stress is greatest at the edges of the joint. The stiffer the chosen adhesive, the greater the concentration of any subsequent stress. This leads to (sometimes unnecessarily) high stress on the adhesive and the surface that has been bonded to. Thus, never choose an adhesive that is stiffer than necessary. Thicker bonded joints also reduce the concentration of stress at the edges of the joint. The choice of adhesive is determined by the way in which the adhesive works and what is required of the bonded joint (filling/sealing, heat resistance, toughness, etc.). To be able to mould itself to the surface structure of the profi le, the adhesive must have good liquid properties. It must also harden into a material that can transfer stress in the environment where it is used. Furthermore, it is important that the adhesive has time to mould itself to the surfaces micro-profi le. Fast setting, high-viscosity adhesives rarely permit this. In such cases, it may be advisable to first apply a low-viscosity primer. The change from liquid to solid is effected in three different ways. Drying Cooling Curing by


-Mixing - Heating - Exposure to moisture The adhesive is liquid - Illumination (UV or blue light) when it is hot - In the abseence of oxygen - Contact between adhesive and hardener (without preliminary mixing).

Drying Solvents and water vaporise. Thus, adhesives containing solvents or water are unsuitable where: gap filling is required both the materials are unable to let the solvent escape. Double-sided PSA tape should be regarded as a drying adhesive that never dries. The material forming the joint is the same as that in the roll. However, if the stress is low, double-sided structural PSA tape may prove suitable for joining aluminium profiles together. Double-sided PSA structural tapes formed entirely of the adhesive substance itself are available in thicknesses from 0.1 to 6 mm. There are also double-sided PSA tapes that can be heat cured. The tape holds the components even during curing other forms of clamping are unnecessary.

Testing of a simple overlap joint has shown a strength after curing of around 10 N/mm2. Cooling Some thermoplastic adhesives have good plasticity when hot. Hot-melt adhesives are the most widely used. However, the thermoplastic hot-melt adhesives usually set too quickly on aluminium. This results in poor contact with the aluminium surface. Hot-melt adhesives also have very low creep and heat strengths. Many thermoplastic hot-melt adhesives become brittle in cold environments. Moisture-curing hot-melts are applied at lower temperatures and, compared to thermoplastic hot-melts, have excellent properties after curing. They are used for, amongst other things, applying foil coatings to aluminium profiles. Heat-reactivated adhesive is also used when coating aluminium profiles with foil. An adhesive solution or a water-based adhesive is applied to the material and left to dry completely. In the bonding process, so that it wets the opposite surface, the adhesive is heated. Moisture-curing hot melts and heat-reactivated adhesives can both give strong, durable bonds. Curing Curing adhesives make up the large group of structural adhesives. They cure (often with negligible contraction) in one of the following ways: Curing by mixing of the components Typical of this group are the epoxy and polyurethane adhesives. They have very good gap fi lling properties. In principle, they can be cast. Modifi ed acrylic adhesives are now also becoming more common. There are both stiff and elastic, 2-component, epoxy and polyurethane based adhesives. Epoxy adhesives with an elongation at fracture of up to 120% are now available. Elastic epoxy adhesives normally give a bond that is relatively heat-sensitive. Using epoxy adhesives, higher strength bonds and improved durability are achieved by curing at elevated temperatures. The curing times are also considerably reduced the curing time halves for each 10C rise in temperature. Two-component polyurethane elastomers give rubber-like joints that remain elastic even at low minus temperatures (C). There are also 2-component silicon adhesives that cure relatively quickly at room temperature. Curing by contact between hardener and adhesive (adhesive on one surface hardener on the other) These types of adhesives are usually referred to as SGA adhesives. They have excellent peel and impact strengths, but are not particularly suitable where a gap fi lling adhesive is required. These adhesives have been largely replaced by modifi ed acrylic adhesives,

which are mixed direct from their packaging and can be used to form thick joints. Acrylic adhesives of this type that adhere to untreated polyolefi nes (e.g. PE and PP) are now also available. Curing by heating Here, the most common adhesives are the 1-component epoxies. These require heat curing at a minimum of 100C. With induction heating of aluminium profiles, curing times of approx. 60 seconds are possible. The aero-industry makes extensive use of heat-hardening adhesive films. These require at least 30 minutes to harden at a minimum of 125C. One-component polyurethane elastomers can be heat cured at 70C 90C (in 10 30 minutes). Curing by contact with moisture Cyanoacrylate adhesives harden very quickly in contact with moisture. A bond between two aluminium surfaces takes longer to harden than a bond between aluminium and plastic or rubber materials. Cyanoacrylate adhesives are best suited for small joint surfaces and thin bonds. Normally, they have low peel and impact strengths. However, there are rubber-filled (black) cyanoacrylate adhesives with good peel and impact properties. Colourless, elastic cyanoacrylates are also available, but these are not particularly suitable as structural adhesives for metal. Cyanoacrylate adhesives may be suitable where, for example, a plastic is to be bonded to an aluminium profile. One-component polyurethane elastomers can also be cured by the humidity of the air. This type of adhesive is used in, for example, the bonding of car windows and, on a large scale, for aluminium profi les in container and vehicle body manufacturing. Curing is comparatively slow (hours) and dependant on relative air humidity and joint geometry. Heat-curing polyurethane elastomers have been mentioned above. There are also polyurethane elastomers that harden both with moisture and heat. Two-component type polyurethane elastomer adhesives are also available. As an alternative to polyurethane elastomers, there are the so-called MS polymers. These also harden with moisture. Two-component MS polymers are primarily chosen for work environment considerations. Curing in UV light There have long been 1-component acrylate adhesives that cure in tenths of a second when exposed to UV light (wavelength approx. 350 nm) or blue light (wavelength > 400 nm). Acrylate adhesives are often limpid and very suitable for bonds between aluminium profi les and glass (most of them perform less well with transparent plastics). Epoxy adhesives that harden in UV light have also been developed. There are many types of these - limpid, fi lled, low-viscosity, hard, elastic, etc. Some of these adhesives can be irradiated prior to bonding and will then cure relatively quickly.

Curing in the absence of oxygen Such adhesives cure on contact with active metal ions. They are normally referred to as anaerobic adhesives (or locking fl uids). They are not particularly suitable for aluminium. Aluminium surfaces should be regarded as passive. An activator has to be used in such cases. This gives a lower strength bond. Variants of these adhesives that do harden without an activator on aluminium surfaces are now available. Temperarure limits With many adhesives, the practical maximum temperature at which stressed bonded joints can be used is between 60 and 80C. The highest heat-resistance (approx. 150 250C) is achieved with heat-curing adhesives and heat-curing adhesive films. However, silicon adhesives can give heat-resistance of around 250C without heat curing. Long-term strength Aluminium surface at x 25,000 magnification (the red bar is 1 m). Bonds to aluminium are as strong and durable as the aluminium oxides with which the bond is formed. Aluminium that has had no surface treatment has a large percentage of magnesium in its surface. Aluminium surfaces should normally always be treated in some way. Used in a dry environment, an untreated aluminium profi le can give an excellent bond. The same bond outdoors in a coastal climate may have a far shorter life. Bond lifetime depends on the synergistic effects of stress, temperature and environment. Normally, the problem is not the degradation of the adhesive or the failure of adhesion, but the effects of changes in the underlying aluminium. Any good microscope will show that there are no completely fl at or even surfaces. Highly viscous (slow fl owing) and fast setting adhesives will, therefore, most probably only come into limited contact with the surface. This results in a bond with in-built weak points (air pockets) where the adhesives properties are not being exploited. In humid environments, this air will eventually be replaced by water. Where the water is salty, the need for surface treatment is even greater. Aluminiums durability can be improved by, for example, anodising. Basic principles for long-lasting bonds

The basic principles for long-lasting bonds are well fi lled joints and resistant oxides. A large number of pretreatment processes have been developed for aluminium. Some of the most common (and some of the more unusual) are presented here. Choice is determined by the environment where the aluminium is to be used, likely stresses and costs. Full details of the processes and any risks to the work environment should, of course, be obtained before starting any form of treatment. The main purpose of priming prior to the bonding of aluminium is to fill (seal) the surface when high-viscosity and/or fast setting adhesives are to be used. Priming becomes more important where the aluminium is to be used in a corrosive environment and no surface treatment that improves corrosion resistance (e.g. anodising) is contemplated. Primer also impregnates and strengthens porous oxides, e.g. after chromating. Requirement specification It is advisable to draw up a requirement specification for the properties of the final bond and the use-related aspects of the adhesive. This helps crystallise the demands really being placed on the adhesive. It also makes it easier to specify exactly what is required to the adhesive manufacturer. Pretreatment operations in bonding Process Result Use (max.)

Minimum requiement for ensuring a clean For moderately stressd joints in Cleaning/ degreasing and defi ned bonding dry surroundings. surface. Fine grinding/blast cleaning Removes weak surface layers e/g/ oxides. Safer than degreasing. Highly stressed joints in dry environments. Unstressed joints in fresh water. Lightly stressed joints using flexible adhesives in humid, corrosive environments. Lightly stressed joints using elastic or very low-viscosity adhesives in corrosive environments. Moderately stressed joints, even in corrosive surroundings. Relatively uncommon process. Highly stressed joints outdoors. However, cannot withstand strongly corrosive environments. Lightly stressed joints in

Gives resistant, but Boiling water for 5 moderately 10 min. after pickling strong oxides. Phosphating/ chromating Hydrochloric acid at 20C for 30 seconds Etching in chrome/ sulphuric acid Anodising in Corrosion resistant, but weak, porous oxides. Quick, can impart a dark-colouring to the aluminium surface. Thin, strong oxides. Long used in the American aeroindustry. Thick very resistant

sulphuric acid


corrosive environments. Best with elastic adhesives.

Anodising in chromic acid

chromic acid Medium-thick, strong Highly stressed joints, even in oxide. corrosive environments Used in the European aero-industry since the 40s. Porous, very resistant Optimum pretreatment for highly oxide. Is used stressed joints in corrosive together with lowenvironments. viscosity primer.

Anodising in phosphoric acid

Fusion Welding

Aluminium is eminently suitable for welding. Although many welding methods are possible with aluminium, on practice. Refinements in welding machines, equipment and materials have resulted in welding acquiring increas jointing method. Oxide formation

When welding aluminium, the metals reaction with oxygen, and the oxide rapidly generated therein, have to be The oxide is strong, has a high melting point (approx. 2,050C) and can easily cause welding defects. The oxide weld pool and may form inclusions. Thus, before all welding of aluminium, it is important to remove oxides fro This may suitably be done using a stainless steel wire brush. Thoroughly cleaned, oxide-free joint surfaces are a for faultless welded joints Weld porosity formation

The risk of void formation must also be taken into account. The hydrogen contained in moisture and contaminan welding materials, work piece or air is highly soluble in molten aluminium. It loses this solubility almost compl solidifi es. As the weld pool sets, the hydrogen forms bubbles that may become trapped and form voids. Most aluminium alloys can be welded



Curing by -Mixing - Heating - Exposure to moisture - Illumination (UV or blue light) - In the abseence of oxygen - Contact between adhesive and hardener (without preliminary mixing).


The adhesive is liquid when it is hot


Nowadays, gas arc welding methods, MIG and TIG in particular, dominate. Argon (Ar) and helium (He) are use gases in the MIG and TIG welding of aluminium. Argon and helium are inert gases and do not, therefore, form c compounds with other substances. Where there is a high penetration requirement, e.g. in a fi llet weld or when w work pieces, an argon-helium mixture can be used in MIG welding. The economic threshold for using mixed ga thickness of 10 12 mm.

As welds in aluminium are prone to the formation of oxide inclusions and voids, the shielding gas must also me requirements. The minimum requirement is 99.5% argon or helium. Besides playing a part in the electrical proc gas also has the jobs of protecting the electrode and the weld pool from oxidation and of cooling the electrode. MIG welding

As a rule, MIG welding is used for material thicknesses from 1 mm upwards. In special cases, thicknesses unde welded using a pulsed MIG arc. Filler metal is added in the form of a wire fed through the welding torch. MIG w performed in any position and for all joint types. A higher current density than in TIG welding gives higher weld high welding speed has a positive effect on distortion and shrinkage (narrower heat-affected zone). TIG welding

TIG welding is suitable for material thicknesses down to under 1 mm. In practice, there is an upper limit of arou preparation is then necessary. Filler metal is normally used and is introduced from the side. TIG welding can be position and, when performed correctly, gives the most fault-free welds. The welding speed is relatively high, an mechanical TIG welding. TIG welding can be recommended where the gap width varies. Robot welding

Robotised MIG welding can be used with advantage in long production runs. This method noticeably increases also advantageous from a work environment point of view. The position of the work piece is easy to control. Th from the optimum position and gives good results. Certain problems may arise with very thin materials and unev

Welding economy

Measured on cost per length, MIG welding is normally cheaper than TIG welding. Equipment costs are identica Filler metals

The table below gives recommendations for appropriate fi ller metals. AIMg5 generally gives the greatest streng stable as regards cracking and easier to use when welding hardenable alloys. If the welded assembly is to be anodised, Si alloyed fi ller metals cannot be used. When anodising, the silicon is imparts a dark grey, almost black, colour. In order not to compromise weld quality, filler metals should be stored so that the risk of oxidation and the form coatings is avoided. Parent metal A Sapa Swedish Chemical standard designation ENSS-EN-AW AW 1090 1080A 1070A 105A 1050A 1200 3103 5005 5251 5052 5754 5083 6060 6063 6063A 6005 6005A 6082 7021 6060 6063 6063A 6005 6005A 6082 7021 AI99.90 AI99.8(A) AI99.7(A) AI99.5(A) AI99.0 AIMn1 AIMg1(B) AIMg2 AIMg2.5 AIMg3 AIIMg4.5Mn0.7 A199.8 A199.5 AI99.5 AI99.5Ti AI99.5Ti AI995Ti AI99.5Ti AIMn1 AIMn1 AIMn1 AISi5 AIMg52) AIMg52) AIMg52) AIMg3 AIMg5

AIIMg52 AIIMg52 AIIMg52 AIIMg5 AIIMg5 ) ) ) AIIMg4.5Mn AIIMg4.5Mn AlSi51) AlMg3 AlMg5

AIIMgSi AIIMg0.7Si AIIMg0.7Si(A) AISi5 AISiMg AISiMg(A) AISi1MgMn AlZn5.5Mg1.5 AlSi5



AlMg3 AlMg51)

AlMg5 AlMg4.5Mn



AlMg4.5Mn AlMg4.5Mn AlMg5 AlMg5 AlMg1(B) AlMg2 AlMg2.5 AlMg3

AlMg4.5 AlSi5 AlMg5

Parent Chemical metal designation B EN-AW

Al99.90 Al99.5(A AlMn1 Al99.8(A ) ) Al99.0 Al99.7(A )

AlMg4.5Mn0.7 AlMgSi AlMg0.7 AlMg0.7 A) AlSiMg AlSiMg( AlSi1Mg AlSi1Mg

Swedish standard SS-EN-AW

1090 1080A 1070A

1050A 1200


5005 5251 5052 5754


6060 6063 6063A 6005 6005A 6082 6060 6063 6063A 6005 6005A 6082



1) 2)

Unsuitable where there is to be subsequent anodising. Less suitable material combinations. However TIG welding with stated filler metal is possible.


In welding, the heat treatment to which the material is subjected affects the structure locally around the weld. Th schematic representation of how strength and hardness vary with distance from a weld in a hardenable alloy. Wi profiles, it is easy to compensate for decreased joint strength by increasing the wall thickness locally. Furthermo can be directly incorporated into the profiles design

Profile design with regard to fusion welding

Appropriately designed profiles can greatly simplify welding. Edge preparation, material compensation, in-built root backing and the minimisation of the number of welds required are all examples of proactive aluminium pro

In many cases, aluminium profi les can be designed in a way that reduces the required number of welds. Someti be located in a low stress section of the cross-sectional area. This will mean fewer welds and improved strength.

Placing welds in lower stress sections of the cross sectional area. This results in fewer welds, and butt rather tha fillet welds.

Friction Stir Welding (FSW)

Friction Stir Welding (FSW) exploits aluminiums ability to withstand extreme plastic deformation at temperatures that are high, but not above the melting point. In FSW, the clean metal surfaces of the profi les that are to be joined are heated by friction generated by a rotating tool and pressed together at very high pressures. This forms a new, homogeneous structure. Compared with fusion welding, FSW gives: # Increased strength. # Increased leakproofness entirely void-free, impermeable joints of a higher strength than fusion welded joints. # Joints that are, in principle, flush with the surface. # Reduced thermal deformation only low thermal stress in the material, hence the flat surfaces. # Increased repeatability production has few variables and these are easily controlled; the result is tight tolerances. An established technology

A cross-section of a joint x 13 magnification.

The homogeneous crystal structure in the centre section of an FSW joint x 220 magnification.

Using FSW rather than traditional fusion welding to join panels together gives, amongst much else, increased flatness and straightness. Strength is also increased (see the Royal Institue of Technology's tests, pages 72-73). The Sapa panel below is 3 x 14.3 metres.

A rotating tool is pressed into the metal and moved along the line of the joint. No filler metals or shielding gases are used. FSW takes place at a temperature below the metal's melting point. The results include very little thermal deformation, hence the flat surface.

The joint is in principle, flush with the surface and the FSW weld is, to all intents and purposes, completely void-free. The strength properties are also very good. The FSW weld homogenous and void-free with no oxide inclusions To paint a clearer picture of FSW, we have chosen to compare it with the most commonly used method of welding fusion welding. At the same time, we must stress that, in our production of added-value aluminium profi les, we often use fusion welding (MIG). The old does have its place alongside the new.

Fusion welding, MIG for example, uses fi ller metals and shielding gases. The filler metal and the parent metal are melted and produce a weld bead that has a solidification structure different from that of the rest of the metal. In MIG and TIG welding, attention has to be paid to the metals reaction with oxygen. The oxide rapidly formed in this reaction can cause weld failure. The oxide is heavier than the weld pool and may form inclusions. There is also a risk of void formation. FSW uses no fi ller metals or shielding gases. The joint is formed under the influences of friction generated heat and extreme plastic deformation. The material being joined never reaches its melting point, but the profiles weld together in a way entirely analogous to the extrusion of hollow profiles. The result is a homogenous and void-free weld with no inclusions. FSW stands out in having only a few variables. These can be easily controlled to ensure the same results from one weld to the next. Fusion welding is a more complicated process. Consequently, results often vary. MIG FSW

To give a fair comparison, the adjacent pictures are of very high quality fusion welds.

Precipitation in a MIG-weld.

Precipitation in an FSW weld.

The MIG weld rises above the surface. Furthermore, its chemical composition differs from that of the welded material.

The FSW weld is, in principle, flush with the welded material. No filler metals are used.

A MIG weld viewed from above. Strength

An FSW weld viewed from above.

Experience and extensive testing have shown that an FSW weld is usually stronger than a fusion weld. The table below shows the standardised values for arc welded butt joints as per SS-EN 288-4 (see also the tests carried out by the Royal Institute of Technology, pages 72 73). The values given for FSW joints are based on a large number of measurements and should be regarded as guideline values. Since there are, as yet, no standards for FSW joints, the values for fusion welded joints are used in calculating the strength of standardised designs. Condition Rm of parent Ageing (W) metal after T= Rm before welding (pm) welding T4 Arc FSW Natural welding 2) 1) ageing 0.9 0.9 Artificial ageing Natural ageing Artificial ageing 0.7 0.6 0.7 0.9 0.7 0.8

T4 T5-T6 T5-T6

Ultimate tensile strength, R (w), of the welded test rod normally has to satisfy the following: Rm (W) = Rm (pm) x T where Rm (pm) is the prescribed minimum ultimate tensile strength of the parent metal and T is the joints weld factor.

1. For example MIG or TIG. 2. Guideline values only. Leakproofness The pictures on the right are of heat sink units based on solid profiles that are then CNC machined by Sapa. The machined interior is closed with a cover, welded in place by FSW. Helium leak testing was used to assess leakproofness. The result was no loss of impermeability owing to weld failures. FSW joints have also been tested using the water pressure test. The results are unambiguous FSW gives a joint that can be used in components with the severest demands for leakproofness. Repeatability The experience Sapa has gained in series production since 1996 shows: Very small variations from joint to joint throughout a production cycle. Very small variations from joint to joint in repeat customer orders. This is true of all variables the joints structure, its strength, leakproofness and flatness. All 25,000 units passed helium testing for leakproofness. Corrosion resistance The chemical composition of the material in the joint is identical to that of the original material. Thus, in principle, corrosion resistance is unaltered. Limitations FSW requires the work piece to be held securely in place. This means, amongst other things, that repair welding of finished constructions is rarely possible with FSW. Repairs can, of course, be carried out using traditional methods. Strength of FSW joints

Comparison with MIG and TIG - Reference: The Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden FSW welds have higher fatigue strength than MIG and TIG welds. This is the finding documented by Mats Ericsson, graduate engineer, and Rolf Sandstrm, professor, (both of the Institution for Materials Science at Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology) in the December 2001 research report, Influence of Welding Speed on the Fatigue of Friction Stir Welds and Comparison with MIG and TIG. Test material and test methods Test mateial and test methods This extract from the report gives values for extruded profiles in alloy SS-EN AW 6082 (AlSi1MgMn) temper T6, material thickness 4 mm. The dimensions of the test pieces were as per SS-EN 284-4. FSW was carried out by Sapa in a plant used for series production. Test materials welded at two different speeds were included in testing. To the same high quality standards as those applying in the aero-industry, fusion welding was carried out by CSM Material Technology. TIG and pulse MIG welding were used. Vickers hardness was measured with a load of 10 kg. Fatigue testing was carried out with a stress ratio ( min/ max) of 0.5, the main direction of stress being across the weld. Profile design with regard to fusion welding Appropriately designed profiles can greatly simplify welding. Edge preparation, material compensation, in-built fastening, integral root backing and the minimisation of the number of welds required are all examples of proactive aluminium profile design. In many cases, aluminium profi les can be designed in a way that reduces the required number of welds. Sometimes, welds can also be located in a low stress section of the cross-sectional area. This will mean fewer welds and improved strength.

The graph shows the variations in Vickers hardness across a cross section of an FSW joint (green) welded at a speed of 1, 400 mm/ min. and across a MIG weld (grey). Comments: In both welds, hardness in the heat-affected zone decreases. This is clearly more marked in the MIG weld. Hardness is lowest (just under 60 HV) around the centre of the MIG weld. This is because fusion welding involves higher working temperatures, "foreign" filler metals and a less favourable structure in the weld. More heat is supplied in TIG welding than MIG welding. Consequently, the HAZ is a little wider. No significant difference was observed between the HAZs of the two FSW welds carried out at different speeds. Yield Tensile longation SS-EN-AW strenght strenght A50 mm Reference 6082 Rp0,2 Rm (%) (MPa) (MPa Min. values for profiles t < 5 mm Pulsed MIG TIG FSW, speed A 2) FSW, speed B 2) 250 147 145 150 150 295 221 219 245 245 6 5.2 5.4 5.7 5.1 SS-EN 755-2 ME,RS1) ME,RS1) ME,RS 1) ME,RS 1)

1) Mats Ericsson and Rolf Sandstrm, averages of the results in the report in question. 2) Speed A, 700 mm/min. Speed B, 1,400 mm/min. Fatigue strength

MIG-weld: This SEM micrograph (x 25 magnification) shows the fracture surface. Fatigue fracture developed at several points in the root (to the right).

The graph above shows the results of fatigue tests on MIG welds (grey), TIG welds (blue) and FSW welds (green). Comments: The FSW weld shows the best values throughout. In the study, TIG welds gave considerably better results than MIG welds. For failure at 500,000 cycles, the stress ranges were: MIG approx. 60 MPa, TIG approx. 70 MPa, FSW approx. 90 MPa at 700 and 1, 400 mm/ min (a shade higher at 1, 400 mm/ min).

MIG-weld: as above (2.500 magnification) Fatigue striation in the area close to the root edge.

FSW: Fracture surface through the fine-grained section of an FSW weld (root to the right). Fracture probably developed close the root.