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This article takes an in depth look at Aluminum Trim.
You will learn more about topics such as:
- What is Aluminum Trim?
- How Aluminum Trim is made
- Uses for Aluminum Ttrim
- Types of Aluminum Trim
- And much more …
Chapter One - What is Aluminum Trim?
Aluminum trim is an aluminum product that is produced by extrusion to create long, narrow, pliable, and adaptive pieces of aluminum that can be used for architectural decorative applications and accents, indoor and outdoor lighting, and engineering design. The use of aluminum trim results from the many positive properties of aluminum, which include its resistance to rust and corrosion as well as its low density.
Extrusion has proven to be the most efficient and cost effective method for the production of aluminum trim since it is economical and provides instant results. The many profiles of aluminum trim have excellent tolerances, exceptional dimensions, and meet the requirements of the product’s design.
Chapter Two - How Aluminum Trim is Made
The process that is normally used to produce aluminum trim is extrusion, one of the most reliable methods for producing high quality products with excellent endurance and appearance. It is a continuous fabrication process that involves forcing a pliable material through a profile, or die, in the shape of the desired product; it can be performed cold or hot.
Of the many products produced by extrusion, aluminum trim is the easiest to shape. Expelled from the extruder in long narrow lengths, the trim is cut to the required dimensions before being packed for shipping. In some cases, depending on the profile, the final product may require finishing.
The process of aluminum trim extrusion begins with a billet, an intermediate casting designed and produced for further processing. Billets are made from a variety of metals, with aluminum being the most common; billets are cast from ingots. The series of aluminum used to produce a billet are 6061 and 6053.
The key factor in the production of aluminum trim is the shape of the profile or die, which is made from machined steel. The dies for aluminum trim are readily available from a manufacturer‘s inventory, but special and unusual profiles can be engineered by designers.
To prepare the billet for the extrusion process, it is preheated to make it pliable and malleable. The preparation of the billet requires that it be heated to 800° F (426° C). Heating makes the billet malleable but not molten. In essence, the billet is softened such that it can be shaped and formed.
The prepared billet is loaded into the cradle in preparation for it to be pushed into the extrusion press by the ram. The cradle is designed to hold the billet in place prior to its processing. Attached to the ram is a dummy block that makes contact with the billet and prevents any of the heated metal from leaking backward.
The movement of the ram produces pressure in the billet as it is crushed against the die and becomes shorter and wider until it makes contact with the walls of the press. To increase the resilience and life of the die, liquid nitrogen is released around the billet to cool it and prevent oxides from forming on the extruded shape.
As the aluminum trim exits the die, its temperature is taken to assist in maintaining the speed of the extrusion. Each aluminum alloy, 6063, 6463, 6063A, 6101, 6005A, and 6061, has a different exit temperature that has to be maintained to ensure the quality of the final product.
As the extrusion pushes through the die, it lands on the runout table that has a puller to guide it down the table. A series of fans mounted along the length of the table cools the extrusion as it is pulled along. When the extrusion reaches the required length, it is cut or sheared and transferred to the cooling table.
Once the extrusion has sufficiently cooled, it is moved to the stretcher. The stretching process straightens the extrusion and work hardens it. An additional benefit of stretching is the relieving of the stress in the metal, a result of it being forced through the extrusion die at high pressure and temperature. A small variance in the dimensions of the extrusion occurs during stretching.
Final Cutting and Heat Treatment
After the parts are sufficiently stretched and treated, they are cut to the required lengths for shipment. As a final measure to enhance their properties, the cut parts are put through an aging oven; this is a recommended process for aluminum alloy 6061. For certain applications, the completed aluminum trim may have treatments applied to improve its appearance and give it extra protection.
Impact extrusion is like cold forming where aluminum is extruded by impacting it with a die. Parts are formed at high speed by the force of a few short strokes. Unlike standard extrusion that is performed horizontally using a hydraulic press, impact extrusion is performed vertically to create a single part.
The tooling for impact extrusion is impact and fatigue resistant with sufficient strength to withstand the impact placed on the aluminum workpiece. The process of impact extrusion is completed using one of three processes, which are forward, reverse, and a combination of forward and reverse.
- Forward Impact Extrusion - With forward impact extrusion, the workpiece is forced into the die and takes the shape of the die in one stroke.
- Reverse Impact Extrusion - With reverse impact extrusion, the workpiece takes the form of the punch and forces the aluminum around the shape of the punch.
- Combination Impact Extrusion - Combination impact extrusion has a die that forms the workpiece as it is further shaped by a punch. The workpiece is forced into the die and around the punch in one stroke.
All aluminum alloys can be shaped using impact extrusion with 1000 series and 6000 series being commonly used. Since aluminum alloys do not need to be heated prior to the impact extrusion process, the final parts have the benefits associated with cold working. The removal of the need to heat the workpiece prior to forming saves time and money.
The disadvantage of impact extrusion is the limitations on the types of geometries that can be produced using the process. Finished dimensions must have a symmetrical cross section and be thicker on the base than on the side walls. The thickness of the walls of impact extrusion parts varies along their lengths as well as the interior and exterior diameters.
Chapter Three - Leading Aluminum Trim Machines
As shown, the process of producing aluminum trim can be complex and difficult. Luckily, manufacturers of equipment used to produce aluminum trim have essentially perfected the process. Here are five brands known for manufacturing machines used to produce aluminum trim in the United States or Canada, along with specific models and unique features:
Brand: Mitten Inc.
Model: Mitten TrimFormer
Description: Mitten TrimFormer is a specific model produced by Mitten Inc. It is designed to create aluminum trim for various applications. The TrimFormer offers precise bending and shaping capabilities, allowing the production of custom trim profiles with accuracy and consistency. It incorporates advanced features such as adjustable tooling, intuitive controls, and rapid production speed, making it suitable for high-volume trim manufacturing.
Brand: Gentek Building Products
Model: Gentek TrimMaster
Description: Gentek Building Products offers the TrimMaster machine, designed for aluminum trim production. The TrimMaster provides efficient and accurate cutting, notching, and bending of aluminum trim profiles. It features adjustable cutting and bending tools, user-friendly controls, and quick changeover capabilities, enabling customization and versatility in trim manufacturing.
Brand: Rollex Corporation
Model: Rollex TrimFormer
Description: Rollex Corporation manufactures the TrimFormer, a machine specifically designed for aluminum trim production. The TrimFormer utilizes advanced forming technology to produce precise and consistent trim profiles. It offers features such as customizable tooling options, integrated measurement systems, and efficient material handling, ensuring high-quality and efficient production of aluminum trim.
Brand: Spectra Metal Sales
Model: Spectra TrimRollformer
Description: Spectra Metal Sales specializes in the production of metal trim, including aluminum trim, and offers the TrimRollformer machine. The TrimRollformer is designed for roll-forming aluminum trim profiles with speed and precision. It incorporates features such as multiple roll stations, automated feeding systems, and customizable roll sets to create a wide range of aluminum trim profiles.
Brand: Quality Aluminum Products
Model: QAP TrimMaster
Description: Quality Aluminum Products manufactures the QAP TrimMaster, a machine dedicated to aluminum trim production. The TrimMaster offers advanced cutting, notching, and bending capabilities for creating custom aluminum trim profiles. It features robust construction, adjustable tooling, and intuitive controls, ensuring consistent and high-quality production of aluminum trim.
Please note that the availability and specific models offered by manufacturers may vary over time. For the most up-to-date and detailed information on specific models and features, I recommend reaching out to the respective manufacturers directly or referring to their product catalogs and specifications.
Leading Manufacturers and Suppliers
Chapter Four - Types of Aluminum Trim
The production of aluminum is a very complex and time consuming process, but the uses of this reliable metal are endless. Aluminum can be found in every home, office, store, and building. Its resilience, appearance, and durability make it the perfect addition to any structure or application.
The many qualities of aluminum are maintained in aluminum trim that can be adapted, shaped, and fitted for use in a wide variety of applications. One of the main uses for aluminum trim is as a sealing agent and decorative addition to boats, motor homes, appliances, and shelving, to name a few.
J trim is used on the edge of aluminum siding around windows and doors and on the top of the siding to hold the siding in place. The proper installation of J trim serves as a seal for a project and protects a project from leaks and the build up of moisture.
U channel trim has been used for many years as a method for finishing edges and protection against the roughness of unfinished edges. It is used as a method of adding an aesthetic appeal to a project and reducing fabrication costs. The versatility of U trim is found in its ability to adapt to any type of material such as woven wire mesh and glass and wood panels.
Z Channel Trim
Much like J channels, Z channels are used with metal roofing and act as a receiver for panels, ridge caps, and headwall flashing. The main benefit of Z channel aluminum trim is its ability to prevent leaks due to its directionality. Z channel aluminum trim can be custom made in any profile, angle, size, and widths.
H Channel Trim
H channel aluminum trim is similar to C channel with the same inside radius corners. It is ideal for applications that require strength and stability. H channel aluminum trim is used on railings, as decorative trim, or as door and window frames.
Aluminum angles come in a wide variety of sizes to fit any application. Though aluminum trim angles are very lightweight, they have exceptional strength, durability, and resilience. They are used for making frames, braces, table edging, and countertop edging.
The variations in angle L aluminum trim include differences in wall thicknesses, which range from 1/16 inch to 1/4 inch or 0.36cm to 0.64 cm, as well as the lengths of the legs, which can be equal or unequal.
T aluminum trim is useful for architectural planning and millwork. It is used for store fixtures, displays, chairs, elevators, and finishing for woodworking projects. One of its main uses, due to its strength and endurance, is as edging for tile to prevent the tile from chipping and as a transition for tile floors. T aluminum trim comes grooved, smooth, or fluted to fit retro rejuvenation applications.
The common use for lightweight and thin F channel aluminum trim is the securing of a soffit by inserting the soffit into the F channel groove.
Shaped like a top hat, hat channel aluminum trim has been extensively used. The shape of hat channel aluminum trim makes it ideal as a decorative divider between wall panels, sheetrock, and tile. Hat channel aluminum trim is used as a replacement for wood and steel and provides the same strength and endurance with the added benefit of versatility and exceptional appearance. Hat channel aluminum trim provides a base for diverting water and thermal efficiency for heating, cooling, and structural appearance.
Round Aluminum Channel Trim
Round aluminum channel trim has the same appearance as C channel but has thicker walls that make it resemble an aluminum rod. Though round aluminum channel trim has a wide variety of uses, its primary use is as housing for LED light strips.
Aluminum trim coil is a thin sheet of aluminum covered with a polyester coating that protects wood from heat and moisture damage. It is made from 0.019 gauge aluminum, which makes it thick enough to provide rigidity but be flexible enough to be easily fashioned.
There are a wide variety of uses for aluminum trim coil. It is an attractive method for finishing soffits, fascia, siding, and windows. It comes in a variety of colors that resists corrosion and damage to wood. Aluminum trim coil is manufactured and designed to cover and protect areas that are difficult to maintain and reach.
Chapter Five - Uses for Aluminum Trim
Aluminum trim functions as the final piece of a project, and it provides a finishing touch, a tasteful decoration, a protective surface, and an eye-catching highlight. Though aluminum has all of the necessary properties to be an asset to a construction project, it has the appearance of a decorative addition or functionality as an addition to a work of art.
The multiple functionalities of aluminum and its versatility have made it the number one metal for a wide range of products, projects, and applications. Aluminum trim can be shaped and formed to be edging for a kitchen counter, a measure for protecting the edges of work benches, and an addition to provide a chrome like finish to RVs and campers. These qualities of aluminum have made it useful and popular.
Aluminum kick plates are used in commercial buildings to help maintain the appearance of the interior of a building. Located at the bottom of a door, aluminum kick plates prevent the ordinary damage that comes from constant foot traffic.
Doors that are in continuous use are exposed to a wide variety of abuses and wear. A sturdy, durable, and resilient aluminum kick plate provides protection and helps to maintain the look, appeal, and sharpness of a building by withstanding and absorbing potential abuse and damage.
The common corner guard is found in kitchens, offices, on work benches, and places that have continual use or need a finishing touch to improve an application‘s appearance. A strategically placed corner guard can protect bench corners, wall corners, and table corners from wear and abuse. Aluminum corner guards are placed on drywall, wood, brick, painted surfaces, and wallpaper to keep the wallpaper from fraying and peeling.
Countertop trim is the final finishing touch to a project; it enhances the appearance of the countertop. It also protects its users from being injured by the edges of a countertop. The installation of aluminum countertop trim defines the edges of the countertop as well as provides an exceptionally smooth pleasing finish.
If a stove, dishwasher, or refrigerator is installed next to a countertop, the trim keeps food from falling between the appliance and the cabinet. A major benefit of countertop trim is how easy it is to install. Available in any hardware or home improvement store, countertop aluminum trim can be shaped and fitted to any size countertop with ease and little effort.
Display manufacturers depend on aluminum trim for the creation and design of their displays. Some of the important features necessary for display boards and materials are flexibility, durability, versatility, and the capability of application to any type of project. Portable display booths may be stored for long periods but are immediately ready when needed.
The many properties of aluminum make it an ideal material for the manufacture of portable displays. When used as edge material, aluminum keeps the grooves into which display boards are slid resilient and firm, ensuring they are ready for immediate use. The bright appearance of aluminum adds to the finished look of displays, presenting a strong and solid image for a company and its products.
Every stair case requires nosing as a safety measure for its installation and to provide a place for people to place their feet as they walk up and down the stairs. Residential nosing is mainly made from wood since residential stairs do not get abusive use or are covered in carpet.
In the case of factories, offices, and manufacturing operations, workers are constantly going up and down stairs carrying materials or to deliver messages. This type of use requires a more sturdy and durable material, which is normally aluminum trim. The type of aluminum trim used for nosing is heavier and designed to protect the edge of the stairs as well as its surface. Aside from its protective qualities, aluminum nose trim also maintains an excellent appearance and visual appeal.
Aluminum handrails take advantage of all of the positive benefits of aluminum. Strength and durability are two of the reasons they are widely used by architectural firms. Aside from these obvious characteristics, handrails made of aluminum are maintenance free and do not require painting, extra finishing, or other protective processes.
Once a durable aluminum handrail is installed, it is guaranteed to last for many years and never need replacement. As with all of the other properties of aluminum, handrails made from aluminum give a building, home, or factory the appearance of stability and polish.
Chapter Six - Aluminum Trim Coatings
Though aluminum naturally oxidizes when exposed to the atmosphere, many manufacturers enhance this natural characteristic with various types of paints, coatings, and metallic finishes. These addons provide an additional layer of protection and increase the useful life of the trim.
A vital reason for adding finishes is improvement of aluminum‘s corrosion resistance. Regardless of the fact that aluminum‘s natural oxidation can make it applicable to a variety of uses, certain environments require that additional and more substantial treatments be added to the metal where extra protection is required.
The purpose of mechanical finishes is to improve the appearance of aluminum. In some cases, after mechanical finishing, aluminum anodizes. There are several types of mechanical finishes; these include abrasive blasting, grinding, polishing, and buffing.
- Abrasive blasting involves the use of a pressurized fluid; it is shot at the surface to smooth or roughen it.
- Grinding uses a rotating abrasive wheel that removes material to reach a specified tolerance.
- Polishing creates a smooth, bright, and shiny surface using a soft cloth containing abrasive material; it is run over the surface of the aluminum trim.
- Buffing is a process that is similar to polishing; the intent is to achieve a certain level of reflection.
Pretreatment is used when aluminum is going to be coated or painted. The process etches and cleans the surface of the aluminum trim with an acid or alkaline. Once the pretreatment is completed, a coating or paint is applied. Pretreatment ensures that the paint or coating will easily adhere to the surface of the aluminum trim.
Bright dipping is a process that gives aluminum a glossy luster; it is an electro-brightening process. During bright dipping, aluminum trim is anodized; this adds additional protection from scratching, fading, and corrosion.
The process involves the use of phosphoric and nitric acids that smooth the surface of the aluminum trim and change its texture. Additives included in the process enhance the metals brightness and reduce possible fumes. The final result of bright dipping is a piece with an exceptional reflective sheen.
Anodizing is an electrochemical method for making aluminum trim surfaces decorative, smooth, durable, and corrosion resistant. Of the many varieties of metals, aluminum is ideally suited for the process since the anodic oxide structure originates in the substrate and is made up of aluminum oxide.
The anodizing process is part of the substrate of the aluminum trim and prevents it from chipping or peeling like paint or other finishes. Regardless of this exceptional durability, anodizing does not prevent other finishes from being applied, such as paint or sealing coats.
A benefit of using paint on aluminum trim is the wide variety of available colors. Painting aluminum trim provides a thick, even, uniform, and lasting finish. The key to painting aluminum trim is proper preparation of the surface to ensure the paint adheres. Pretreatment etches and cleans the surface to make the application of paint easier and efficient.
A final step in aluminum trim painting is curing or baking to drive off and remove various volatile compounds.
Powder is a very common form of material for coating aluminum trim, and it provides extra protection from corrosion, wear, and damage from weathering. Powder coating is the application of an electrostatic charged powder coat that tightly bonds to the aluminum trim.
Though aluminum is exceptionally resilient and durable, the application of a powder coating extends its usefulness by nearly twenty years. It is an ideal method for treating outdoor signs, partitions, frames, lighting, and aluminum trimmed electrical housings.
As with painting, powdered coatings require a pretreatment of the aluminum trim to remove dust, dirt, or any form of foreign bodies. Also as with painting, the piece needs to be cured and baked; this evenly spreads and melts the coating. Coatings come in a wide array of colors that offer an exceptionally powerful and dynamic layer of protection.
Sublimation is a painting process where a special ink is used; the ink is transformed into a gas before being applied to the aluminum trim. To achieve the gaseous state, the ink is heated and forms a permanent bond with the metal. Sublimation is not a surface treatment but a forming of a union with the aluminum trim.
The process of sublimation can create the appearance of wood grains, apply photos, and produce other surface formations. It is a rapidly growing finishing process that has become popular and widely used.
- Aluminum trim is an aluminum product that is produced by extrusion to create long, narrow, pliable, and adaptive pieces of aluminum that can be used for architectural decorative applications and accents, indoor and outdoor lighting, and engineering design.
- The process that is normally used to produce aluminum trim is extrusion, one of the most reliable methods for producing high quality products with excellent endurance and appearance.
- One of the main uses for aluminum trim is as a sealing agent and decorative addition to boats, motor homes, appliances, and shelving, to name a few.
- Aluminum trim functions as the final part of a project that provides a finishing touch, a tasteful decoration, a protective surface, and an eye-catching highlight.