T-SLOTTED ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS & FASTENERS | HISTORY AND USE
T-slotted aluminum extrusion, as its name implies, is aluminum that is extruded from a die in the shape of the letter T. This type of channeled aluminum is modular and allows for easy connection and combination with other pieces of aluminum without welding or clamping. T-slotted aluminum is corrosion resistant and strong. Unlike steel, T-slotted extrusions do not have to be welded and painted. Below we have provided more information about t slot aluminum and its history, applications, fasteners, and more.
History and Uses
The extrusion process of many other metals came about before aluminum was discovered and refined. It was not until the end of the 1800’s that the hot extrusion process was invented to be used to extrude metals like aluminum. Finally, in 1904 the first aluminum extrusion press was created. This rapidly led to various aluminum applications in industries such as construction and automotive.
From stairs and car bodies to skeletons of buildings and elevator shafts, extruded aluminum is versatile, lightweight, and resistant to long-term environmental effects. Not only is extruded aluminum used to manufacture things, it is also used in creating the manufacturing components. Conveyors, robot frames, and assembly lines are commonly made up of aluminum.
With its modular capabilities, t-slot aluminum framing has multiple mounting possibilities and accessories. There are numerous fasteners that can be used with t-slotted aluminum to best fit the component needing to be mounted. The most common type of fastener is the t-nut. This fastener is used post assembly and has serrations and a drop-in style that can be inserted in an available t-slot. Other types of fasteners include:
Ball-spring roll-in t-nuts are made for metric profiles and have a ball spring plunger for holding a maintained vertical position. This fastener rolls into position anywhere on the aluminum rather than sliding into the end. As for leaf-spring t-nuts, these fasteners are made for both metric and inch. They roll into position as well and have a leaf spring for holding their vertical position.
This fastener comes in three styles and is made for inch profiles. The drop-in style with leaf-spring can be put into position along the t slot aluminum. The leaf-spring allows for holding a maintained vertical position. The ball-spring t-nut also rolls into position along the profile and as the name states, has a ball-spring plunger to help hold a maintained vertical position. The set screw t-nut is used for heavy-duty applications. The set screw holds the fastener in both vertical and horizontal positions.
Made for metric profiles, this fastener has a stepped style with a large surface area. It is used in heavy-duty applications and slides in from the end of the t-slotted aluminum.
Standard t-nuts are made for heavy-duty applications on inch profiles. These fasteners have to be slid in at the end of the profile.
This slide-in style t-nut is made for inch profiles and can be used for light-duty applications. It comes in economy, double and triple configurations. This t-nut has a pilot thread projection and loads from the ends of the profile.
T-bolts are made for metric and inch profiles and are used to fasten components or panels to t-slotted aluminum. The bolt’s serrations provide a connection that is vibration and electrically conductive proof. These fasteners can be also used in ESD applications as a grounding lug.
With fasteners like those above, t-slotted aluminum can be used in multiple applications. To simplify your decision process regarding T-slot fasteners, keep in mind that there are two main types, internal and external. Internal fasteners are recessed into the t-slot and create a strong connection between profiles.
External fasteners mount to the outside of the t-slot aluminum profile. These fasteners are easy to implement into the application and create strong connection points. External fasteners can be mounted anywhere along the profile and are reconfigurable. Some types of external connectors are anchor, end, central, and hidden corner connectors. Each type of fastener has its own benefits and is suited for an array of connections.
While aluminum may cost more than steel in raw form, it has less overhead. Steel has a higher labor cost and will need to be welded, as well as have holes drilled and tapped to mount panels, fasten, etc. Steel will also need to be cleaned, prepped, primed, and painted. T-slotted aluminum does not have to have any of those things done to it before use. Advantages of t-slotted aluminum are:
- No welding required
- Costs less than steel
- Modular design
- Weighs less than steel
- Machining not always required
- Strength can be made similar to steel
T-slotted aluminum profiles are versatile and strong. When choosing your t-slotted aluminum, first decide on fractional or metric and then decide on your specific profile. From there, narrow down the shape that will work best for your application. The modular capabilities of t-slotted aluminum make it easy to change. Whether it’s adding or taking away a member, or completely changing the entire configuration, t-slotted aluminum is cheaper and easier to work with more so than steel. T-slotted aluminum arrives pre-cut or fully assembled depending on its source. From lower labor and material costs to less overhead, projects can be completed at cost and on time.
A question that often comes up as the popularity of this product has grown is, “Is t-slotted aluminum strong enough?”. When most think of aluminum, they note it as lightweight and thin. With its structural integrity called into question often, most will over-design their project thinking more is better and stronger. However, that is not the case. Aluminum that has been extruded is actually strong enough to handle most applications. From manufacturing and automation assemblies to auto and construction applications aluminum can withstand the load. Most t-slotted aluminum is made from a mixture of copper, magnesium, iron, zinc, or silicon.
As a t-slot aluminum extrusion seller, we offer a variety of t-slot aluminum extrusions for multiple applications. Noted as the “erector set for adults”, t-channel requires no welding and uses nuts and bolts along with fasteners to create a sturdy structure. From machine safety guard frames to workstations, enclosures, and desk modules, we can help you with your next project. Contact us to learn more about the options we offer, as well as help answer any questions you may have about using extruded t-slot aluminum in your next application.