Aluminum Extrusion

Aluminum Extrusions Collateral Damage

Posted August 19, 2019 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Aluminum Extrusion, Blog

Parker Industrial Profile Systems recognizes Innovative-IDM as one of its regional design centers.

The result is that we design, cut and assemble a LOT of extruded aluminum products.

The collateral damage to all that fell on Jimmy Taylor, who is left to deal with the now-empty 20-foot heavy duty cardboard boxes in which the raw aluminum was shipped from Parker.

Sweet Jimmy and a SAWZALL in 100-degree weather took care of the problem.



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Hardguard Protects VFDs from Contaminants

Posted April 24, 2019 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Aluminum Extrusion, Blog

Aluminum t-slotted extrusion keeps particles out of control cabinet, VFDs.

One of our sales engineers recently solved a problem for a customer in the oil and gas sector. The customer was running a horizontal drilling simulation and needed to keep particles and debris from getting into the cabinets and fouling the drives controlling the motors.

The solution was simple yet effective: Extruded aluminum framing with clear poly carbonate panels created a quasi-clean room to protect the cabinets. The framing included a door that allows technicians to access the control panels. Innovative-IDM worked with the customer on the design, and then cut and constructed the pieces. The modules were shipped to the customer where workers there easily put together the final product. There's a whole world of factory applications for aluminum extrusion.

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Choosing Between Steel or Aluminum Framing

Posted November 3, 2016 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Aluminum Extrusion, Blog


When choosing between steel and aluminum framing, you'll want to consider such factors as vibration, permanency of the structure, and the future modifications of the structure.

When choosing between steel and aluminum framing, you'll want to consider such factors as vibration, permanency of the structure, and the future modifications of the structure.

Are you on the fence about choosing between steel or aluminum framing for your machine? Despite the many presentations, articles, and forums that provide helpful pieces of information for engineers approaching this fork in the design road, sometimes it's a good idea to take advice from a trusted partner.

I wrote about this subject on the Parker IPS blog. Some of the fundamental decisions involve selecting the type of material needed to build the actual machine; how to enclose or guard the machine; or possibly determining how modular you want to make the machine. Typically, the material selection comes down to two choices: aluminum (t-slot framing) or steel structural framing.

Something important to consider when choosing between steel or aluminum framing is the total machine cost. Let’s take a few moments to focus on some of the aspects of the total machine cost for aluminum and steel structural framing.

Total machine cost

If you are examining material cost per pound data, then steel structural framing will look very appealing. Aluminum structural framing, per pound, will cost more due to the raw material costs, but let’s consider a few more factors. Although steel structural framing is about 2.5 times denser and is certainly suited for high vibration or heavy load applications, aluminum structural framing can be considered a cost-saving material for several reasons.

Aluminum maintenance savings

  • It's easy to replace a component in an aluminum structural framing system, specifically a t-slot aluminum framed system
  • Inexpensive assembly tools (Allen wrench, screwdriver and, possibly, a mallet)
  • Time is money - you'll complete a t-slot aluminum structural framing design faster than a welded steel design

Aluminum weighs roughly 33% less than steel

  • Reduced processing
  • Lower assembly cost
  • Cost-effective tooling
  • Easier modifications

Aluminum sustainability and longer life

  • Lighter loads require smaller motors and mechanics
  • Longer life and sustainability - More than 75% of the aluminum produced since 1888 is still in productive use today (Source:

These are just some of the value drivers to consider when making a decision on the type of material to use in your structural framing, viewed through the lens of total machine cost. Use this knowledge to your advantage and, before you begin your next project, download our structural framing design checklist.



Mario Mitchell is product manager for IPS T-Slot Aluminum Framing, Electromechanical & Drives Division, Parker Hannifin Corporation

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Aluminum Extrusion: Hard Guarding

Posted September 15, 2016 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Aluminum Extrusion, Blog

Tags: ,

The customer needed a way to guard a machine yet still have access and visibility for that machine. This six-piece, color coded hard guard made from Parker IPS aluminum extrusion does the job. It keeps unwanted arms and hands from pinch points yet offers access areas so operators can still made adjustments to the machine.

Innovative-IDM's Bryan Rinehart explains some of the features. The guard was cut and assembled from sticks of aluminum at our Dallas location. Innovative-IDM is an authorized cut and design shop for Parker IPS aluminum extrusion.

Aluminum Extrusion: Hard Guard for Mechanical Assembly from Innovative-IDM on Vimeo.

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Aluminum Extrusion Work Station

Posted August 9, 2016 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Aluminum Extrusion, Blog

This aluminum extrusion work station was built from the ground up by Innovative-IDM's Bryan Rinehart. The customer needed a work station that was lightweight and portable. But it still needed to offer comfortable ergonomics and efficiency of work. Rinehart gives you a quick two-minute tour of the work station in this video.

The work station (we built several of these) can be leveled by special casters. Rinehart also included tilted shelves for easy reach. He also incorporated a LED lighting system into this aluminum extrusion work station.

Tinker Toys for Engineers

Most manufacturing facilities have a use for aluminum extrusion. The applications can be as simple as a four-leg work table. Or could be as advanced a machine tool frame that incorporates automation technology such as safety, sensors, vision, PLCs, etc. into the framing. Most of the time, the choice is between using aluminum versus steel. It's a crossroads decision you need to make at the beginning of your project. Most of the time, the benefits of aluminum win.

Aluminum extrusion work stations can be a simple or as complicated as you'd like to design them. When choosing an aluminum extrusion supplier, make sure to choose one that can guide you through the possibilities of maximizing your framework. If you want to learn more about aluminum extrusion -- how it's made and the possible applications -- here is an on-demand webinar on aluminum extrusion.

Aluminum Extrusion: Portable Work Station from Innovative-IDM on Vimeo.

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Aluminum Extrusion vs. Welded Steel

Posted August 26, 2015 by eeadmin

Categories: Aluminum Extrusion, Blog

When designing a machine frame for today’s automation equipment, should you use welded steel or structural aluminum extrusion?

machine frame built with aluminumAluminum extrusion vs. welded steel. There are several advantages to using aluminum extrusion when designing a machine frame:

  • Aluminum extrusion is a lightweight and high-strength material. It’s easy to cut and machine.
  • It does not require welding and does not require painting.
  • Aluminum extrusion is easy to assemble and disassemble which means that design changes are simplified and not as expensive.

Welded steel machine frames are made from less expensive steel, but the advantages tend to end there. Welded steel machine frames are a permanent assembly which requires much more effort to change or disassemble. They require special equipment (and specialized labor) to assemble, including a welder. Welded steel frames require paint and associated cleaning supplies. Steele is susceptible to rust anywhere that the paint is not covering. Over the long term life of the machine, welded steel frames require regular maintenance to prevent degradation.

On the plus side, welded steel survives (no fasteners to come loose) in applications where vibration is severe.

Aluminum Extrusion is Low Maintenance

All of those challenges go away when used structural aluminum. And designing your machine frame is as simple or as complicated as your imagination wants it to be. This is because assembly is so flexible and adaptive to change.

To assemble aluminum extrusion, insert a T-Nut and fastener into a T-Slot of the extrusion and tighten. It’s that simple. No welding or grinding is required. A few simple hand tools is all your need to tighten your design. When done, you have a durable, strong, lightweight structure that’s functional and attractive. The high-strength aluminum profiles have a clear anodize surface that is scratch and corrosion resistant. Your structure never needs painting and is maintenance free.

Most structural extrusions have a 2 degree taper that spring locks fasteners as they are tightened. Therefore, fasteners will not loosen, even under heavy vibration.

Aluminum extrusion machine frames need no welding, no painting (unless you want to), and don’t rust. They don’t require any special tools (or a welder) to assemble. Modifications are easy and attachments can be added and removed easily. Multiple automation manufacturer’s attachments can be utilized because of the standard sizes of T-slots.

Structural aluminum extrusion works well where changed might be needed, like the length of a table, desk or machine base.

Structural aluminum extrusion works well where changes might be needed, like the length of a table, desk or machine base. Accessories include handles, casters, feet and others.

Steel may cost less at the beginning of the project. But in the end, structural aluminum extrusion usually makes for lower overall cost per project. Consider structural aluminum as an alternative for shelving, work stations, carts and other projects where lightweight and design flexibility are needed. – Adam Ring

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