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What factors affect the cost of extruded aluminium?

Extruded aluminium products have long played a important role in the manufacturing industry; when there is a need for the creation of low cost parts with that would otherwise require significant machining to achieve the final shape.

With aluminium being ductile, mechanically strong, and cost-effective, the material lends itself well to creating complex parts with minimal waste or extensive machining

8 things that can drive up the price of extruded aluminium products 

The cost of extruded aluminium can be influenced by various factors. These include:

Die and tooling costs

An important one-off cost is the production of the extrusion die. The given profile’s size and complexity will dictate how much this die costs, as will the factor of whether the profile will be solid, or contain an enclosed hollow (or several hollows). A hollow die is normally more expensive, due to the need for it to consist of a greater number of parts.

The tooling costs for extruded aluminium products typically encompass not only the expenditure incurred in manufacturing the steel die, but also the time-consuming process of designing the die and micro adjustments required to get the die dimensions within tolerance.

The cost of aluminium

As is the case with any other commodity, aluminium prices can fluctuate due to the state of the global market at any one time. Underlying aluminium prices can be driven by the London Metal Exchange (LME) or the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), although the exchange traded portion of an extrusion’s price can at least be hedged.

Profile size

Extrusion mills vary with regard to their extrusion press sizes. Extruded aluminium products tend to be produced on presses that can extrude profiles in dimensions from 5mm to 250mm wide. If a profile larger or smaller than this is requested, the cost is likely to be higher due to the lower economies of scale and potentially slower production.

Finishing costs

Although any kind of necessary finishing of extruded aluminium products has to be budgeted for, it is also true that some finishes are cheaper than others. So, it is important for buyers to consider whether they might be missing an opportunity to save costs by changing finishes. Painted finishes, for instance, are generally more affordable than anodised ones, and might allow for the same aesthetic to be achieved for less outlay.

The cost of manufacturing

The smelter will charge a premium to convert aluminium ingot into billet form, and the extruder will charge their own premium to turn the billet into an extrusion. Both of these key figures in the process operate according to a ‘supply and demand’ dynamic, and it is a part of the cost of extruded aluminium products that the buyer may have limited options to control.

The cost of energy

It is not a secret that business energy costs have escalated in recent years. This has had a substantial knock-on impact on the costs involved in the manufacturing of extruded aluminium products, which depends on the use of substantial electrical power.

The alloy used

The raw material costs and machineability play a major part in how much extruded aluminium products cost, so the specific alloy used will be crucial. One alloy might be cheaper than another while still allowing for the required component parameters to be met, so this is one aspect of the cost of extruded aluminium profiles that buyers can often exert some control over.

Scrap ratio

A higher scrap ratio will also drive up the cost of extruded aluminium products. This underlines the importance of implementing measures to help reduce the scrap rate, such as optimising casting mould designs, using the correct compositions of metal, and drawing upon optimisation software and machine automation.

Are you seeking a reputable independent source of aluminium rolled and extruded products for use in technologically demanding applications? If so, please do not hesitate to contact the MCA UK team to learn more about our wide range of products.

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