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How Does the Trucking Industry Benefit from Metal Extrusion Processes?

Drivers who have ever been behind the wheel of a truck will never forget the feeling of pride, positive emotions, and satisfaction when they take control of a powerful vehicle and skillfully and confidently navigate the roads with a massive machine. However, this work can turn into a chore when truck driving becomes stressful and exhausting. This is especially true for long-distance drivers who spend long periods of time on the road.

In such a situation, it is very important to understand that you can count on the reliability of your iron horse, which, despite the weather conditions, heavy cargo, and the difficulties of a long journey, will allow the driver to do his job with dignity.

Metal extrusion processes – a method for truck reliability

One of the most important factors in the safety of freight transportation is the reliability of the vehicle. That’s why companies operating in the trucking industry use the most efficient and up-to-date technologies to produce trucks.

The extrusion method of metal forming has been known to mankind for over 200 years. Its essence lies in pushing metal through an outlet hole, which is used to form parts with the necessary geometric parameters specified by the design of the truck.

The most commonly used metals in truck construction are steel and aluminum alloys. They are very hard at room temperature, which is very good for use. But for extrusion, they need to be heated to high temperatures, at which the metals acquire the necessary ductility. The plastic mass of heated metal is used to form many of the components of trucks. Therefore, the precision and quality of such products make a significant contribution to the reliability of truck applications.

The extrusion process is best suited for producing elongated metal profiles with a predetermined shape. These profiles can then be used as rails, pillars, frames, and tubes for various vehicle constructions. Cutting such profiles provides a way to produce a series of smaller parts with a given shape, which can be further modified by other machining methods if needed.

Given the advantages of the extrusion process, such as its applicability to automation and conveyor production, the speed and quality of forming, and the cost-effectiveness of the process, it has become very common in the production of commercial vehicles.  

Aluminum vs. Steel in the Trucking Industry

Steel is stronger and more durable than aluminum, which is why it is often used in the construction of truck frames, semi-trucks, trailers, and trailers. Steel can withstand more weight and stress without bending or cracking, while aluminum of the same thickness can deform or crack under high pressure. However, aluminum weighs significantly less than steel, which can contribute to increased efficiency and payload capacity.

The supporting steel structures of trucks can be replaced with extra-strong aluminum alloys with added wall thickness to compensate for the lower strength of aluminum. In this case, the weight of the structure can be significantly reduced without losing its reliability. This is why aluminum is also often used in the construction of truck bodies and other structural components.

Aluminum is more resistant to corrosion, which can be a significant advantage in the trucking industry, where trucks are often exposed to moisture. On the other hand, steel is prone to rust and requires regular maintenance to prevent corrosion. Steel, in addition, is generally cheaper than aluminum, which may make it more attractive to some transportation companies. However, the cost savings from using steel can be offset by its higher weight, which can lead to higher fuel costs over time.

In summary, both metals have their advantages and disadvantages in the freight transportation industry. Steel is cheaper, stronger, and more durable, while aluminum is lighter and more resistant to corrosion. Using aluminum extrusions as an example, let’s take a look at how the quality control of parts for the trucking industry is carried out.

Quality control of automotive aluminum extrusion products

To ensure reliable and reproducible production, aluminum extrusion processes are highly regulated. However, strict adherence to the regulations does not guarantee absolute reliability in terms of extrusion quality. Therefore, to guarantee reliability, an in-line inspection of the final parts and billets is used. This control becomes the key stage of the entire process, which ultimately ensures the reliability of the entire structure. In turn, tensile testing of aluminum extrusion samples is an important component of quality control.

The essence of tensile testing is that a tensile force is applied along a specimen made in a certain shape and changes in its geometry are observed until the specimen breaks. This is how the strength and elongation of the sample under tension are determined. The process is also highly automated and is carried out using special tensile machines. The loading is controlled by software, and the tensile response of the material is measured using special sensors. The results are stored and analyzed also using computers. This ensures the reliability of the results and the accuracy of the tests.

Another key to reliable tensile test results for aluminum specimens in is the accuracy of the shapes of the specimens. The shape of the specimen strongly influences the results of such tests, so the shapes of the specimens are standardized to allow for comparison.

There are standards for specimens made of different parts depending on their size. They are divided into two groups: so-called dog bone tensile test specimens, flat or round, with different lengths and cross-sectional areas depending on the requirements of the standards. The wider ends of these specimens are designed to fit into the clamps of the tensile sample testing machine. The tensile force is applied along the axis of the specimen, with geometric changes occurring in the thin part of the specimen, where it finally breaks.

A key factor in obtaining reliable mechanical test results is the accuracy of reproducing the geometry of aluminum extrusion samples. Without this, the results will be irrelevant. Aluminum extrusion specimens are typically shaped like flat dog bones. Many employees who work with aluminum extrusion in the trucking industry prefer the Flat Tensile Sample Preparation system from TensileMill CNC Inc. This system is designed to produce tensile dog bones for tensile testing processes, meeting the high quality requirements of this industry.

These CNC milling machines are made with the idea to simplify the operator’s work as much as possible and are capable of taking on the vast majority of labor-intensive tasks. The reliability of the service equipment is guaranteed by the many years of experience of TensileMill employees. Therefore, these machines operate reliably in the test laboratories of hundreds of TensileMill CNC Inc. customers.

Visit the store’s website to choose a convenient option for the Flat or Round Tensile Sample Preparation Systems series.

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