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The Main factors influencing the price of Aluminium Extrusions

Aluminium extrusions are a sure-fire way to deliver a design project which is a success. But, as with all creative endeavours, your budget will always play a significant role. However, this doesn’t mean that you should price yourself out of quality materials. And that’s why you need to budget carefully. First of all, though, you need to understand the main factors influencing the price of aluminium extrusions.

What are the main factors ?

  • The London Metal Exchange (LME)

Aluminium is a commodity traded on the LME in US dollars and its price, like all commodities, is subject to the whims of the market and trader speculation. Its price can change daily and is influenced by stock levels, supply scenarios and world economic conditions. The price an aluminium extruder pays for his extrusion billet will be governed by the price on the LME plus the premium charged by the smelter for converting aluminium into billet form.

  • Profile Size

Different extrusion mills will have different extrusion press sizes. The majority of extrusions are produced on presses capable of extruding profiles with widths between 5mm and 250mm wide or with a weight per mtr between 0.1 kg / Mtr and 12.0 kg/ Mtr . Profiles which are larger or smaller than these parameters will incur a premium due to the economies of scale and possibly lower production speeds.

  • Die Costs

When budgeting for your new profile you need to allow for a one-off cost for producing the extrusion die. The cost of the die will depend on the complexity and size of your profile and whether it is a solid profile or contains an enclosed hollow or hollows. Hollow dies tend to be more expensive as through necessity they have more parts to them. So when designing your section ask yourself does it need to be a hollow die ?

  • Weight per Mtr

The cost per mtr of your profile will be determined largely by the metal content or in other words the weight per mtr. So when designing the profile the trick is to make it as light as possible but still staying inside extrusion capabilities. So you need to ask yourself can any walls be made thinner ? Can any unnecessary features be removed ? Can I reduce the mass by the introduction of hollows or struts ?

  • Clever Design

You may be able to reduce the cost, or even completely eradicate the need for further machining on your profiles by incorporating design features such as screw ports, snap fit or interlocking joints, non-slip or grooved surfaces and hinges.

  • Order Size

Like most products the more you order of your section the more likely it is that the cost per unit will fall. Production economies of scale come into play as well as cost of transport.

By sourcing your extrusions through a stockholder such as Custom Profiles you can tap into their purchasing power and possibly enjoy lower metal costs than if you deal with a mill direct. A stockholder will also be able to order your section in bulk and hold in stock for you to call off in smaller quantities as and when you require it.

  • Finishing Costs

You will need to budget for any finishing you require such as powder coating or anodising.

If you are undecided as to what finish you require you may want to ask for comparative quotes for both processes. The cost of anodising will also be affected by the thickness of anodising you require. The thicker the anodic layer the more expensive per Mtr it is.

Sections to be used outside that need to withstand attack from moisture and other air pollutants will need a thicker anodic layer than those used inside in non-aggressive environments. You can find more details on understanding the powder coating process and the benefits of benefits of anodised aluminium by reading our recent aluminium extrusion advice posts and visiting our aluminium finishing pages.

Aluminium Extrusion Samples

You may want to check your new design by having a sample run first before running to bulk production. A sample run may incur a set up cost but may be money well spent in checking for any flaws before bulk production takes place.

Final Thoughts

As you can see the final cost of your extrusion will have many influences. Not all of them, such as The LME, are under your control but the design and finish of your aluminium extrusion profile certainly is. At Custom Profiles we have a wealth of experience that can help and offer advice on your design along with the backing of our major mill and machinist partners who are ready to make your design ideas become a reality. Why not contact us today either by phoning 01275 879995 or e-mailing sales@custom-profiles.com