Extruding the Aluminum Market
Right now, the aluminum extrusion industry is looking better than it has in several years. Extruded aluminum parts are in higher demand than ever right now-thanks in part to the automotive industry and its quest for lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Many experts in the field of aluminum extrusions expect the industry to continue to grow at a steady rate at least until 2016, and possibly beyond that. The demand for extruded aluminum parts was around 350 million pounds in 2012, but the demand is expected to increase to at least 520 million pounds per year by 2015.
The automotive industry is responsible for much of this new demand. As automotive manufacturers turn toward making lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles, steel frames are being displaced for lighter aluminum extrusion frames. The extrusion process can create sturdy aluminum frames that will provide the necessary support without adding the weight. One of the current manufacturing methods for aluminum frames is hydroforming, where a piece of extruded aluminum is placed inside a hydroforming mold. Water is forced into the mold at high pressures until the metal bends under the extreme pressure and conforms to the shape of the mold. This helps the metal retain its original strength and eliminates the need for as many fasteners and individual parts. The fewer parts used in an aluminum frame, the stronger the frame will be.
The improved economy is also benefiting the extrusions market. With more money to spend, more companies are starting new expansion projects, creating new buildings and using more metal products than in previous years. The combination of steel substitution for vehicle frames and the increased overall demand for extruded aluminum parts leads to a rosy future for manufacturers of extruded aluminum parts and other products.