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Aluminium Extrusion Suppliers: Mill or Stockholder?

Profiles made from aluminium are one of the best materials to work with. Not only are they resistant to corrosion, but they are durable and lightweight. These qualities make them perfect for a wide range of design projects.

Which aluminium profile supplier suits your needs?

Not every aluminium profile supplier is suited to your individual needs and you should evaluate suppliers carefully to determine if they are right for you. One of the main questions, when deciding on your supply source, is whether you should buy direct from a producing mill or utilise the services of a stockholder who will have established supply chains with a variety of mills. Let us look at pros and cons of both options.

Design Expertise

Dealing directly with the extrusion mill with give you direct access to their design expertise and they will offer guidance and advice on the design of your section. Their advice and proposals however will be limited to their own production capabilities. This may be sufficient for your requirements. A stockholder will submit your designs to a variety of mills who he believes are best suited to supply your profile. Not all mills have the same production capabilities. He may then receive a variety of options which can be passed to you, the customer, for your decision.


There is no doubt that, in theory, purchasing directly from the mill should be a cheaper option than via a stockholder. However the purchasing power of a stockholder who may be buying hundreds if not thousands of tonnes per year may allow him to offer you, including his mark-up, prices similar if not better than those offered to you by the mill.

The cost of the extrusion die will form a large part of the upfront costs of any new extrusion. Die costs can vary considerably from one extrusion mill to another. The stockholder, having put your requirement to a variety of mills, will be able to offer you the best of those die cost options.

Purchasing directly from a mill will mean you will have to take their minimum production quantities all in one go. This may be more than you need at the time, putting a strain on your budget and cash flow. A stockholder will be able to offer you the option of holding your profile in stock and supplying to you in smaller quantities than the mill’s minimum production, thereby spreading the cost in line with your output.

Supply Chain Management

You may decide you would like to explore the cost benefits of sourcing your extrusion profiles in more exotic locations such as China. This can prove to be profitable, especially if some post extrusion machining or finishing is required. This however can lead to challenges such as which mill to choose, long lead times, communication, paying for metal before delivery and minimum shipment quantities. Not to mention what happens if, when received, the quality is not acceptable. Most stockholders these days will have established supply links with Middle and Far East suppliers allowing you to tap into their supply chain giving you the best of both worlds.

Lead Times

For a new extrusion there is no real benefit in delivery times whether dealing with the mill direct or through a stockholder. However, the benefit of using a stockholder as your supplier may come further down the line if they are holding stock of your item. A typical lead time for repeat orders from the production mill is around four weeks. If your supplier is holding stock of your profile, they will deliver your call off in a few days or twenty four hours if necessary.

Finishing and Machining

More and more companies require their profiles to be supplied having had post extrusion machining and finishing applied. While most extrusion mills will be able to offer powder coating and anodising in long lengths those who offer in house machining capabilities are much scarcer. Many stockholders now have in house processing capabilities backed up by local independent machinists and metal finishers. This allows them to offer a total one stop shop service as well as the capability of stockholding the finished parts.

A Final Word

Although there is sometimes is a belief that buying your aluminium profiles direct from an extrusion mill will provide cost and direct contact benefits, which may be true for a limited number of very large users, for the vast majority of customers the services of an aluminium stockholder will prove to be beneficial for the reasons outlined above.

If you would like more information on aluminium profiles and discuss the services that Custom Profiles have to offer don’t hesitate to get in touch and speak to one of our team by phoning 01275 879995 or e-mailing sales@custom-profiles.com