In our last post, we briefly touched on what’s in a name when it comes to t-slot aluminum. In this article, we are going to dive in and learn a little about t-slot aluminum, where it comes from, and its sizing and strength.
Throughout the country and world, aluminum is manufactured and has been for hundreds of years. Extruded aluminum came on the scene in the early 1900s after the hot extrusion process was invented. From there, channeled aluminum was created for the industrial and manufacturing world.
What’s in a Name?
Several companies emerged as time passed, and one, in particular, was able to expand on the capabilities of t-slot. The company that achieved this was 80/20. Like Kleenex, Velveeta, and others, this company’s name began to be used interchangeably when referring to t-slot. To break down the aluminum t-slot market and understand it better, continue reading below.
Who Makes What?
With so many t-slot companies, it’s hard to follow who does what but it’s easy to explain. There are three types of companies in the marketplace when dealing with t-slot. There are the aluminum producers, the extruders (manufacturers), and selling companies that have distributors under them. Often producers and extruders are called manufacturers; however, the producer makes the actual aluminum to be extruded and the extruder takes raw aluminum and extrudes it. See below for more clarification.
Aluminum Producer: Raw aluminum is made in both the US and overseas. China leads with the largest output of aluminum. They rank 1rst, 4th, and 5th. Russia is the second-largest producer, with the US coming as the 6th largest maker of aluminum.
Aluminum Extruders/Manufacturers: Extrusion companies will take aluminum and extrude it for t-slot companies. Some companies have the ability to extrude as well as sell t-slot.
Aluminum Extrusion Companies/Distributors:
Aluminum extrusion companies sell, design, build and deliver t-slot aluminum extrusion to customers. These companies also have other companies that distribute for them. If knowing where the aluminum came from is important to you, always feel free to ask the company. Companies like Parco pride themselves on their aluminum being made in the USA.
As you navigate the t-slot marketplace, you will find that extruders/manufacturers like 80/20 who design and sell t-slot can have longer lead times and may not be able to meet the needs of individual customers. There are several things to look for when looking for a t-slot company, and they are:
- Compatibility with other companies
- Competitive pricing
- No minimum order policy
- Free design quoting
When searching, you will find many people will refer to t-slot as 80/20, which is incorrect. All t-slot is not created equal. Knowing the series and type of aluminum you are getting is important. So to refer to all t-slot as 80/20 could cause you issues in the long run.
Aluminum is aluminum, right? Not exactly. Aluminum comes in different series. Most t-slot companies will use either 6105 or 6063. The 6000 series of aluminum offers the following benefits:
- Moderate strength
- Extremely versatile
- Highly Formable
The composition of these alloys is basically identical, with each having its own unique properties. The 6000 series of aluminum is considered architectural aluminum that is strong and durable.
Knowing the composition of the t-slot you are purchasing is imperative. Once you know the type of aluminum, you will need to know what profile series you will need.
T-slot profiles come in two types: fractional and metric. These types branch off into series, indicating their dimensions. These measurements are based on the width of the profile’s face. See below.
10 Series: profiles are based on 1 in increments
15 Series: profiles are based on 1.5 in increments
For metric sizes: 30, 40, and 45 series are based on 30 mm, 40 mm, and 45 mm increments.
Each profile has its own strength capabilities. When paired with the right fasteners and connectors, a solution can withstand medium to heavy loads. But how do you know which profile can handle what? Noted earlier, having a company that offers free design quote software is very useful in understanding the strength of a profile. Utilizing this software will help in knowing what profile will be needed for your solution.
From deflection calculations to the amount of torque and using the correct fastener can all be determined when uploading your information into a design quoter. Most companies will have the software on their website for download, and if you feel capable, you can use it to design and build a 3D model of your project. Otherwise, you can speak with them and provide them with your information, and they will create it for you.
So what’s in a name? Nothing if you can’t deliver on time and help all of your customers. Whether your project is big or small, look for a company that will accommodate your project needs.
To learn more about t-slot, feel free to check out other articles. If you have questions or want to join a discussion, visit the forum.