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Aluminum Extrusion Purchasing Tips  

One of the first things to consider when you begin to think about purchasing aluminum extrusions is to plan WELL ahead.

Very often, the design and design revision process takes far longer than one expects, largely due to changes the designers think of later, as well as coordinating their wishes with the practicalities of aluminum extruding.

Additionally, once your design is truly finalized, choosing the right mill, getting final pricing, ordering and having the die(s) made, getting any required die trial samples run, inspected and approved, making the final product run and, possibly, machined and painted or anodized, and the product shipped to you can take ten weeks or longer on a first run. Anything less than five weeks for a first time order is usually relatively fast. Repeat orders are likely to take three to six weeks, in a “normal” market.

Within reason, if you can design it, we can probably either supply it or help you modify it to something very similar, and which will work as well or better for your purpose.

It is quite possible that any design revisions we suggest may well cost you less overall and work out as well or better than your original design. You would be well advised to consult with us before placing your initial order!

You might like to visit our “Custom Shapes” and “Design Tips” pages for ideas and information on those subjects

We specialize in mill run quantities. This is a somewhat ambiguous term, but the only simple one available to describe the situation. It can usually be quantified as 500 pounds of a given shape or more for small and medium size shapes, and can be as much as 2,000 pounds or more for very large and / or heavy shapes. We also supply smaller quantities in many circumstances.

If your parts are quite small (probably less than 1” – 1.5” in “circle size”), or “light weight” (probably not much over 0.25 Lb/L.F.), we may be able to provide you with an order for very few pounds fairly economically (though the cost per pound may well higher by normal order quantity comparisons), and still be the most practical choice for you. In some cases, we can do the same for you in larger and/or heavier shapes, as well.

A frequent exception to the need for larger orders is for shapes made using certain hard alloys, especially in some of the AND, NAS, BAC, etc. shapes.

Otherwise, wherever possible, it is most economical for you to plan on purchasing a minimum of 500 pounds and 1,000 pounds, and even 2,000 pounds is better and more economical. The larger your purchase, the lower your cost per lineal foot is likely to be. Also, with the generally rising metal prices we have experienced over the last couple of years, “buying for the future” can make very good sense.

Larger shapes (6” circle size and up), and many heavy and/or hard alloy shapes may require more substantial purchases – as much as 5,000, 10,000, and even 40,000 pound runs. The latter minimum quantity is frequently encountered when a “non-stock” alloy is required, or an overseas “drop ship” supply is planned.

Please note that all of the above referenced minimum run requirements are generalizations, and are generally imposed by the mills, not by Materials Management, Inc.

In general, the more you material feel comfortable buying at a time, both of a given shape and in total (combining several shapes), the lower your cost(s) per pound (or per foot) will be.

Again, under normal circumstances, MMI’s minimum invoice value is $750 to $1,000, though that limit is waived in certain circumstances, especially for those beginning a serious relationship with us, and for most existing accounts.

Depending upon several criteria, after initial or preliminary orders, we may suggest that you allow us to establish dies at a second mill for you. In the event of flood, fire, strike, or other closure,  production mill overbooking, or raw material supply problems (any of which could effect a continuous supply availability with the primary mill), you should then be relatively unaffected. Thus, the benefit of having a “back up source”. This protection will virtually guarantee reasonable availability of your components without interruption under nearly all circumstances.

Something many customers do not think about is the possibility of having our mill provide downstream operations on their extrusions.

Especially when discussed before placing your initial order (many mills do not offer all functions), we can often arrange cutting, deburring, milling, punching, drilling, anodizing, painting, packaging and many other operations on the base extrusion to provide you with “ready to install and use” parts.

There can be many advantages for you in doing things this way. They include, but are not limited to, net direct part cost savings; overall cost of operations savings, increasing your overall production volume capacity by reducing your in house work load on certain tasks, freeing your machine and staff up for other operations; faster overall turnaround; “single sourcing” and “single responsibility” benefits such as faster part availability, reduction of transportation costs, extra markups etc.; and others often too numerous to mention. Why not ask us about it?

If you are able to order aggregate orders for shipment at one time of 20,000 pounds (and, better yet, 40,000 pounds), especially if downstream operations are desired, we can often save you money by sourcing your materials from one or more of our overseas mills. Note, that lead times will be longer than for domestically produced materials, however. This must be taken into account early in your decision making process. Please ask us about this option if it is of interest to you.

The best way for you to proceed before you go too far with your design concepts, selecting an alloy and temper, quantity specifications and / or sourcing is to call us, so we can discuss your shapes, your needs in detail. We can then discuss the best way for us to proceed together to provide you with the best overall product quality, economy, and availability.

We’ll be more than happy to talk with you in detail regarding any questions you may have, and help you all we can!

Why not contact our expert staff today and see what we can do for you?

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