In order to get the most out of your tensile fabric structure, you have to properly select the right materials to use. With our tensile membrane structures, we use high quality fabric and aluminum frames to ensure the structure lasts. Aluminum is commonly selected for the frames due to the following reasons:
- Capable of supporting heavy materials
- Corrosion resistant
- Can be easily formed into components
The Process Of Shaping Aluminum
In order to create a frame, aluminum is shaped through the process of aluminum extrusion. It can be compared to a clay that goes through a hole due to pushing it through a die. The full process takes several steps to complete. It includes the initial heating, extrusion with the die, cutting, stretching, secondary cutting, and aging.
In the first step, a furnace heats up the aluminum billet to soften it up. Along with it, the extrusion tools are also initially heated. To prevent the billet and ram from sticking together, a thin film of lubricant is added.
Extrusion with die
In this step, the aluminum is further heated to 700°F to 930°F. A ram, with the help of hydraulic pumps, exerts pressure on the billet. Due to high pressure, the aluminum squeezes out of the die to take it’s shape. Liquid nitrogen and nitrogen gas are also used to create an inert atmosphere that prevents the formation of oxides on the extruded aluminum.
Depending on how much aluminum components are needed, a whole billet may or may not be used. When there is already enough aluminum extrusion created, the billet is cut and the remaining is reserved for future use.
This step is done after the aluminum has been cooled down. Stretching is done to straighten the extrusions and correct any twist formed in the previous steps.
In this cutting step, the cutting of the aluminum extrusion in various lengths happens. In some cases, further cutting may be needed when the parts or components required are really small.
In this step, the aluminum extrusions are moved into another oven. This oven ages and heat-treats the aluminum to ensure it fully hardens. Aluminum naturally hardens over time but aging with the addition of heat speeds up the process.
The Final Product
The aluminum is ready for use after it has aged and developed the necessary mechanical and physical properties. It is transferred and the frame is assembled. After which, the fabric will be fitted into place.