Aluminum Handling Systems

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In the manufacturing of aluminum extrusions, the handling system can be the key to a quality product. There are many types of systems being used, from flight conveyor systems to rollers with double pullers. These systems vary and are all well suited for each location depending on press size, space limitations and alloy types being used. All these handling systems have one thing in common, what to use to protect the hot extrusions from the exit of the press until the aluminum reaches the cut to length saw.

Graphite has been widely used over the years, but graphite can be very messy, leaving graphite marking on the extrusions and graphite dust lingering around in the air within the plant. Other products have started to become the standard to replace graphite such as Kevlar® and PBO (Zylon®) which do not scratch or leave any residue on the extrusion as it travels out of the press onto the handling system. These fibers can handle high temperatures, without decomposing but as everything, they do not last for eternity.

Typically, the exit temperature of an extrusion is about 950° F (510° C) from the press, and will start cooling down as it carried on the handling systems. Most locations use some type of cooling systems to help this process, but it varies from within the location depending on alloy and requirements of temper required.  Kevlar® can handle up to 570° F (300° C) with a small weight loss, and up to 965° F (520° C) with moderate loss. Above that temperature Kevlar® decomposes very rapidly. The PBO Fiber (Zylon®) can handle about 180° F (100° C) higher temperature as compared to Kevlar®.

With the development of high temperature resins, impregnating these fibers with a resin treatment can help resist absorption of water from misting systems or quench tanks so that these fibers have a longer life in those environments. These hardened products such as rollers or pads will keep their shape for a longer period of time.

To use these high temperature fibers is the key to success to any handling system. It’s like owning an expensive sports car, would you use regular gas (87 Octane), or opt for better performance from high octane (92).

– Neil Chappell
Albarrie Head Office
Ontario, Canada

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