How To Build Things With V-Slot Aluminum Extrusions

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Aluminum extrusions are a vital part of many industries​. Just take a look around your house, and you will see them in your windows, balcony doors, heatsinks, and many other places. Besides, aluminum is essential for building ships, airplanes and is widely used in numerous heavy industries.

Image source: mineconveyor.com

Extruded aluminum is a solid working material but lightweight at the same time and can be connected with many different types of fasteners. Another important property is that it is indefinitely adjustable and re-customizable, making it great to work with, whatever the necessary change might be. Relatively speaking, it is not a cheap undertaking, but it could also make the company a substantial net profit on the next ventures and save you precious production time.

Aluminum Extrusion: Definition, Properties, And Applications

Aluminum extrusion is a technique in which an aluminum billet (a cylindrical aluminum bar) is forced through a steel die to create utterly accurate aluminum extrusion profiles in the desired form, identical to the opening of the die it passes through. From relatively easy to complex cross-sections, the method can generate profiles with infinite shapes.

The billet is heated to 730-900 Fahrenheit, depending on the alloy. Strong hydraulic presses then push the billet through the casting die. (Press force varies from 100 to 15.000 tons). The profiles are then cooled by water or air from the other side of the die. Afterward, they are extended, aged, cut, and anodized to increase the corrosion resistance.

In any motion-related application, aluminum is a perfect option. First, it is roughly one-third of the steel density. Lightweight means lower inertia, more incredible speed, and improved energy efficiency. Besides, the benefit of the extruded component is that only material is put where it is needed, which also enables weight reduction.

Aluminum has a higher strength-to-weight ratio in comparison to many other materials. Aluminum grade 6061-T6 is about four times stronger than stainless steel 304. Also, extrusion maximizes rigidity while simultaneously reducing weight. That is why aluminum extrusions​ are commonly used in aircraft construction, which must be as light as possible.

Another great feature is that aluminum rarely rusts. Rust is iron oxide, and most aluminum does not have almost any iron in its composition. But aluminum does oxidize, and this preserves the underlying aluminum without oxidation.

It repels more corrosion than the aluminum alloy on which the aluminum oxide sits. This is different from rust because rust is flaking away from an iron alloy, causing the process of rusting to continue until material failure.

The Machining Part

It takes excellent skills and practice to be able to be successful at welding consistently. Besides, you will also need fixtures and will need to waste some parts for preparation. Conversely, several separate pieces that would otherwise be welded together may be replaced by one specially built piece of extruded aluminum. To make it seamless, you can also build parts that interlock.

Machining can be achieved on most aluminum grades easily. Aluminum extrusions can be cut to length with a hacksaw or with a simple cordless hand drill. Before you do this, make sure to mark the holes.

The extruded aluminum can be plated, painted, polished, and even textured. And there’s anodizing, of course, which gives designers a wide variety of finishes to choose from. You won’t be able to do this with many other materials.

Even after you have exhausted the use of your extruded aluminum, you can sell it on the scrap aluminum market, which is significant. You can also transform it to use it in another project. Just disassemble your product, and it might be fitting to use the extrusions again.

Those who plan to use extruded aluminum will always restrict themselves to the shapes found in regular product catalogs only. This might, however, be a mistake. As tools for custom extrusion are very reasonably priced, there are ample opportunities for optimizing designs.

How to Build Things With V-Slot Aluminum Extrusions?

You will find lots of different forms and shapes of extruded aluminum on the market. Two main profiles (the cross-section structure is called a profile) used far and wide in many industries are dominant: the V-Slot and the T-Slot.

The T-Slot has a T-shaped furrow on every side, while the V-slot has a small incline. This may be an insignificant difference, but it does have a considerable effect on the building process. V-Slot enables the inside of the profile to rest on bearings and wheels, ensuring that it can also act as a linear rail, significantly reducing the cost of motion control components.

The two are somewhat compatible, but one form per project is typically better for your project. Necessary components such as brackets and T-Nuts work perfectly on each, but only one or the other will operate on slightly more specialist components, such as bearings or odd joints.

You might also need to modify or adjust your design if you are mixing and matching parts, and you must buy more extrusion lengths of one or the other. V-slots come in different sizes, while the most popular are 20mm x 20mm, 20mm x 40mm, 20mm x 60mm and 20mm x 80mm. Speaking of length, most suppliers will cut the profiles to your choosing. Whichever size you choose, even the smallest 20mm x 20mm option is solid and reliable.

Cutting the Profiles

The best way to cut V-slot profiles is by hacksaw. Lay it down firmly on a working bench and mark a nice straight line. Then start cutting, but do it slowly and carefully. If there are rough parts or uneven cuts, a file can be used to even things out.

Finishes

The V-slot profiles come in two finishes. You can get a black or an untreated version. The latter is the inherent finish of aluminum extrusions, while the black profiles had previously undergone anodization. If you are using plain profiles, you can anodize them in different colors. Black profiles look good, though. Also, don’t use paint or powder coating to change their color additionally.

Connecting the Pieces

Connecting the profiles is a very straightforward process. The most common fasteners are T-Nuts​, and they will fit right into the grooves in the profile. Afterward, add a bolt to hold everything tight. T-Nuts are relatively cheap, but you can also use metal brackets or 3-D prints your connectors.

Final Words

V-Slot aluminum profiles are great for your next building project. All of the parts you need are available for purchase on the Internet and physical stores in your area. Use this guest post as an essential guide through the process and only buy from an established supplier.