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How Do I Choose the Best Extrusion Machine?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

An extrusion machine is commonly used in manufacturing settings to create parts by taking a raw material or blank such as aluminum or plastic and drawing it through the machine to create a long, rod-like finished product. Aluminum baseball bats, for example, are often extruded. To choose the best extrusion machine, you will first need to determine what materials you will be extruding, how often you will be using the machine, and what types of projects you will be attempting. If, for example, you intend to extrude aluminum on a daily basis, you will need a different machine than if you plan to extrude plastic once a month.

Two general extrusion processes exist: hot extrusion, in which the material is heated until it is somewhat malleable, and cold extrusion, in which the extrusion machine presses the material at or near room temperature. Certain materials are more suited for hot extrusion than others; most metals and plastics will be hot extruded for ease of production. Cold extrusion can be done on certain metals such as aluminum, titanium, and tin. The advantage of cold extrusion is higher strength, as well as a lack of oxidation and very close tolerances. Hot extrusion tends to be easier on equipment, though more maintenance of the extrusion machine will be necessary.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

You will also need to decide between a direct extrusion machine and an indirect one. Direct extrusion machines are more common; they are usually set up horizontally, and the blank is loaded into the machine with a press positioned behind it. The press will then push the blank forward to make contact with the cutting die. This type of machine requires an exceptional amount of force to operate, but it tends to be very versatile. Indirect extrusion machines are faster and create less friction, but they are limited in their production capabilities. If faster production speeds are valued, an indirect extrusion machine might be best.

Be prepared to spend a significant amount of money on either type of extrusion machine. It is best to come up with a budget for purchase, keeping in mind that the dies can raise the cost of the machine considerably. Think carefully, too, about where the machine will be stored and operated. It is best to figure out the electric requirements ahead of time to ensure the workspace is capable of supporting the machine's size, electric requirements, and safety considerations. Installation of the machine will also raise the cost, especially if professionals need to be hired to deliver and install the unit.

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