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October 4, 2023
5 factors that impact the cost of custom aluminum extrusions

The possibilities for the use of aluminum extrusions are endless. You’ll see aluminum metal fabrication applications in structural frames, the auto industry, assembly lines, test tables, engine blocks, and more. Still, even though aluminum extrusions are commonplace, sometimes there is a need for one with a unique design or measurement. In that case, custom production is necessary. With customs comes a higher price since the design and manufacturing are specialized and unique. If your industry has this type of need, read on to see the five factors that impact the cost of custom aluminum extrusions.

Custom Dies

For the fabrication of custom aluminum extrusions, the first step in the process is a custom die for the product. These dies are tailor-made specifically for an order. It’s possible that after production, the die won’t be used again; therefore, the manufacturer must make up for that loss by adding it to the cost of the custom extrusion.

The Cost of Aluminum

The cost of aluminum often fluctuates, and it is now more expensive than ever, around $1,500 to $3,500/metric ton. For extruders, it’s best to buy in bulk and receive a discount. However, for some custom designs, what’s in stock doesn’t always work, and a custom order of aluminum is the only answer. In that case, the manufacturer must, of course, pass that cost on to the customer.

The Cost of Manufacturing Labor

One of the biggest factors that impact the cost of custom aluminum extrusions is labor and manufacturing. Each step requires a knowledgeable and trained worker to complete it. Here’s a list of processes that require the role of an extrusion specialist when there is an order for custom aluminum extrusions:

• A team to design the die

• A team to manufacture the die

• The ordering of aluminum

• Creating the extrusion

Several people are paid to take care of each step to bring the fabrication to production. Another area that has an impact on manufacturing and labor costs is where production takes place. Keep in mind, aluminum extrusions made in the US don’t incur the same shipping costs as an order from overseas.

Surface Finishing

Surface finishes come into play to improve the look of an extrusion or make it more durable. On average, they vary from about $1,200 to $1,400/metric ton. Some finishes are less expensive and some may be more. Aluminum naturally has a smooth finish after extrusion, but sometimes there’s a need for a different surface. There are two popular options, and they include the following:

• Sandblasting for a rougher surface

• Powder coatings for a durable, hard finish, or for color

Secondary Options

Just as a surface finish isn’t a requirement for a custom design, neither are secondary options. Still, depending on the use, a custom aluminum extrusion sometimes calls for unique elements that aren’t reached with extrusion alone. Let’s look at a few possible secondary options:

• Bending extrusions to avoid straight lines

• Machining to create holes and shapes

• Temper treatments for added durability, hardness, or formability

At A-Line Automation, we are committed to bringing the industry the highest-quality materials, including Bosch aluminum extrusions, which are suitable for many applications. Our list of impressive customers with whom we’ve built relationships speaks for itself. Contact us with any custom design needs, and we’ll bring your aluminum extrusion vision to life.

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