What are the Differences between Drawn and Extruded Aluminum?

July 13, 2021

What are the differences between drawn and extruded aluminum?

  1. Cost
  2. Versatility
  3. Quality of finished parts

The manufacturing industry has benefitted from one of the most versatile metals in the market — aluminum. Time and again, aluminum has been used to manufacture houseware and consumer products for the food & beverage industry. Some examples of these include foil, pots, pans, baking trays, and the like. Other industries like construction have made use of aluminum to develop corrosion-resistant electrical wiring, panelling, and roofing material. All of these are made possible by two types of processes: drawn vs extruded aluminum.

Although aluminum drawing and extrusion may appear similar, they have a number of key differences. Understanding these variations will help you choose the right one for your next project.

What Is Drawn Aluminum?

Simply put, drawn aluminum refers to any kind of aluminum product manufactured through deep drawing. This is a sheet metal process by which a blank is created through punching. As the sheet metal is secured over a sturdy tool, by which the shape is created through hydrostatic pressure.

Deep drawing offers the option to produce shapes wherein the component’s depth is beyond the limit of the part’s circumference. This may lead to either symmetrical or asymmetrical parts with high tolerances and precise dimensions.

Drawn aluminum usually refers to structural or container-like components that are resistant to rust, non-magnetic, and may also undergo heat treatment in some cases. Some of these uses may include pots, tubes, cans, and other aluminum products with a circular cross-section.

What Is Extruded Aluminum?

Unlike drawn aluminum which is done at room temperature, extruded aluminum starts off by first heating a billet of metal to an extremely high temperature until it is soft enough to be machined/formed. After this process, the billet is then forced through a die containing a specific cross section — the part ejected on the other end possesses the desired shape of the final product and is left to harden. The result is a durable aluminum profile that can last for many decades without returning to its original shape prior to extrusion.

Extruded aluminum profiles may come in a variety of shapes useful for both decorative and structural purposes. You may find these in the form of window frames, mullions (curtain walls), tubes, awnings, louvers, standard sections, and the like.

Cost

While drawn aluminum is extremely useful in creating specialty parts with circular/conical shapes, there are also some disadvantages to this process. For one, drawing needs to be done in a calculated manner so as not to deform the material. Although aluminum is malleable, it can be prone to cracks and damages if it is drawn well beyond accepted parameters.

With these in mind, drawn aluminum products tend to be more expensive than their extruded counterparts. Before stretching the material, manufacturers would still need to consider other factors, such as alloying elements, aluminum grade, and the strengthening process that will be used.

This is where extrusion may be the more cost-effective option, as the process can significantly lower the cost of the final product. Fewer materials are needed for the job, resulting in lower expenses and a more efficient process. In addition, different types of aluminum grades can be used for the job, such as 1060, 3003, 6061, 6063, and many more.

If you have budget considerations for your project, then aluminum extrusion is the better choice to get a variety of aluminum parts at a low cost.

Versatility
Versatility

Drawn aluminum products are ideal for small parts that have round dimensions and detailed components. This is the go-to process to produce shorter parts in either high-volume or low-volume production. However, it may not be suitable in the manufacture of structural parts for construction or industrial use.

When it comes to versatility, this is where the extrusion process truly shines between the two. As discussed, every final extruded part is created through heating prefinished aluminum parts to a certain degree, then pushing them through a cross-sectional die.

That being said, the aluminum parts used for the work can come in varying shapes, sizes, and lengths, or even custom-made designs that meet the customer’s preferences. Both high-volume and low-volume production are also available for extrusion, making the design opportunities limitless for this mode of aluminum fabrication.

Quality Of Finished Parts

Both aluminum extrusion and drawing are capable of producing quality finished parts that can be applied in OEM, custom-made, or aftermarket scenarios. Drawn aluminum products can cover a wide selection, each satisfying both international and domestic quality standards. The same is true for extruded aluminum, which has seen a variety of applications in everyday life.

Wherever quality is concerned, you can choose either of the two methods. But you should keep in mind that aluminum drawing has its limitations — the process is suited only for parts that don’t have complex designs. Whereas with aluminum extrusion, three are endless opportunities to come up with different designs.

Key Takeaway

Choosing between drawn vs extruded aluminum is the key to quality aluminum parts at a reasonable cost. As discussed, some crucial differences between the two can affect part quality, versatility, and overall cost. Drawing aluminum can produce simple parts like containers, cones, tubes, while extrusion can produce a variety of simple and complex shapes.

AMC Aluminum has been supplying the country’s highest quality aluminum extrusions at an affordable price. Check out our products and services here or get in touch with us to request a quote.


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