One of the most used packaging materials is aluminum. Think about the products that you use every day. The hair spray which you used this morning was packaged as an aluminum aerosol bottle. The energy drink that you had right after breakfast was packaged in an aluminum beverage bottle. And the air freshener that you sprayed throughout the house came in an aluminum aerosol bottle as well. Surely aluminum packaging is used in dozens of industries, ranging from personal care and cosmetics to food and beverages to household products to pharmaceuticals. Still, given its widespread use, surprisingly few people know how that aluminum bottle ends up in their hand. This article will provide an overview of the impact-extrusion process-the most common process used in the manufacturing of aluminum containers.
The impact extrusion process is used by aluminum bottle manufacturers worldwide. It requires a hydraulic press which houses a ‘punch’ and a metal slug which is cooled and lubricated before the process begins. The metal slug is placed on a die, below the punch, and the punch then makes contact with the slug, deforming it and shaping it around the punch. The slug is shaped by a single impact, and is then removed from the work piece by a ‘counter punch’ mechanism.
This process can be used not only for aluminum but a host of softer metals; these include brass, tin, mild steel, magnesium, and titanium. It is used widely because of the abundance of advantages that it provides. When used for aluminum, the impact extrusion process has advantages which are both economic and technical. An aluminum bottle made using this method can be made quickly, last longer, have a lower weight, and have a superior surface quality.
The typically cited drawback is that the impact-extruded aluminum bottle is slightly less environmentally friendly than an aluminum bottle made by another process-the Coil to Can process. The Coil to Can process (C2C) uses thirty to forty percent less aluminum than an impact-extruded bottle. This is because impact extrusion requires that the bottle uses about 3 times more aluminum than the traditional aluminum can for insulation purposes. At the same time, however, any aluminum product is relatively environmentally friendly, because aluminum bottles and cans are easily recycled. The use of recycled aluminum requires only 5% of the energy that is needed to manufacture a product using new (non-recycled) aluminum.
Obviously aluminum plays a huge role in the packaging industry. And the metal is particularly important as a cheap, comfortable, and sustainable material. As a result, the role that the impact extrusion process plays in the manufacturing of aluminum bottles, aluminum aerosols, and other specialty aluminum packaging is extremely important. Without impact-extruding there would be none of the custom aluminum packaging designs and shapes that are seen in innovative beverage bottles everywhere. It is beneficial to executives in industries that use aluminum bottles to know the manufacturing process. Doing so will help them make better decisions as to their packaging needs, and help with the branding and marketing that is so important.