Aluminium Section (extruded)

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Aluminium Section (extruded)
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This stunning metal object is a cross-section of a cylindrical billet of aluminium, caught and collected in the middle of the process of extrusion. Extrusion is the familiar everyday process of pushing material through a hole – whenever we squeeze toothpaste from a tube we are doing extrusion. In the industrial version, plastics, foodstuffs or metals like aluminium can be made into very long objectswith a fixed profile such as square rods, round bars and the I-beams that hold up many of our buildings. This is done by pushing material through a die of the chosen cross-sectional shape. The process for extruding metals was first patented by Joseph Bramah, an inventor and locksmith from Yorkshire, in 1797. It was later paired with a hydraulic press, also of Bramah’s invention.
In this object, the narrow sections at the top are the material which has already been extruded through holes in the die, to form  rod shapes. The wide, central part is the billet of aluminium which is being  pushed and forced through the die. This part is the so-called ‘butt end’ of the billet – the very final bit of material to pass through the die – and this end is generally not used due to the enormous force required when the metal must awkwardly flow almost perpendicular to the die in order to pass through.
If you look closely at the flat surface of this cross-section, you will see grains of  miniscule aluminium crystals, which beautifully show how the solid metal flows through the holes of the die. Although extrusion is done in the solid state (the metal is not molten), aluminium is heated to around 300-600°C to keep it soft and avoid work hardening the metal. The outside surfaces of this object are roughened, perhaps from the friction between the billet and its housing as it was forced through the extruder.

Sample ID: 149


Chemical symbol
King's College London
Aluminium | Billet | Butt End | Cross-section | Crystals | Cylinder | Extruded | Extrusion | Flow | Grains | Industrial | Rod

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