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Extrusion Design - Key Considerations

Aluminum Extrusion Key Design Considerations

Every manufacturing process has its limitations. For aluminum extrusions, there are practical limitations to the design flexibility. Some designs will prove very challenging to extrude, while minor tweaks to an extrusion design can often yield significant benefits in extrudability, and consequently, cost.

Here are some things to consider when designing with aluminum extrusions:

Circumscribing Circle Diameter (CCD)Circle Size

One common measurement of the size of an extrusion is the diameter of the smallest circle that will entirely enclose its cross-section--its circumscribing circle diameter (CCD). The dimension is one factor in the economics of an extrusion. Most common profiles are less than 12 inches in diameter, a few extruders are capable of producing extrusions with a much larger CCD, some as large as 32 inches.

Weight-per-Foot (Wt/Ft)

The weight-per-foot of a profile is important because of the effect it has on profitable press operation. Is the profile too heavy? Is it too light? Many factors affect press operation and the press size required to extrude a profile. Your extruder will provide the information you need to improve your profile design to run cost effectively.

Note: Generally, the design is greatly enhanced if the profile CCD is kept under 8 inches and the wt/ft is 3 pounds or less.

Shape Constraints

Avoid high tongue ratios (width of fin vs. height). Where possible, reduce deep narrow "tongues" by redesigning the profile. Also, keep somewhat balanced wall thicknesses. Below are some things to keep in mind when designing your profile.

Good Aluminum Extrusion Design Practices

  • Balanced walls
  • Avoid/minimize hollows
  • Generous tapers
  • Practice symmetry/minimize asymmetrical detail
  • Use grooves, webs and ribs
  • Minimize perimeter/cross-section ratio

Availability of press sizes

Keep in mind the various profile circle size/area/weight combinations and the press sizes available to handle them.

North American Press Size Availability Chart
North American Press Size Availability Chart

You can find more complete guidance on effective design of extruded components — along with a host of other extrusion technology information — in AEC's Aluminum Extrusion Manual.


Finally, most extruders have professionals on staff who are ready to help in optimizing your design for functionality and cost effectiveness. Go to Find an Extruder to locate a source near you.