Aluminum, which is available in various shapes and sizes, is popular among metalworkers for designing lightweight parts for extreme environments. When aluminum is cut to size as per your required dimensions, it’s easy to design and machine these parts; however, working with a raw block of aluminum can be challenging for fabricators and small shop owners. In the absence of the right sawing infrastructure, it’s nearly impossible to imagine how a 12-inch-thick aluminum plate can be easily transformed into various products.
In this article, we describe the various uses of 12-inch-thick aluminum plate and how a reliable metal supplier and service provider can easily cut thick aluminum blocks to size for your application needs.
How Useful is a 12-Inch-Thick Aluminum Plate?
A thick aluminum plate can be machined to design parts for the marine and automobile industries. When cut to size using the proper sawing equipment, 12-inch-thick aluminum plate can be used for the following applications:
An exhaust manifold helps distribute an air and fuel mixture to the engine cylinder and further ignites the mixture to generate power for propelling the engine. The manifold is made from long blocks of 12-inch-thick extruded aluminum.
The thick block of 6061 aluminum is transformed into the rough form of one of the manifold’s two sides, called banks. Each bank has four sides of runners. The four sides of both banks are mated with each other and then machined.
A cylinder head forms the top of the combustion chamber. There could be one or multiple cylinder heads, depending on the engine type, and they can be made either with aluminum or cast iron. The aluminum head is comparatively lighter in weight and dissipates heat faster than the iron head.
A thick aluminum billet can be machined directly into a cylinder head using an automatic billet engine. This process is better than the sand casting method, which requires additives or chemicals. However, the initial investment into the billet machine setup could be a major decision-making factor.
Thick aluminum plates are used to build fuel tanks. Aluminum adds a high strength-to-weight factor to the design that helps vehicles save fuel and money. Apart from offering light weight, the fuel tanks are corrosion-free and are thus reliable, durable, and offer the best resale value. Aluminum fuel tanks are finding a wide application in cars, boats, and trucks as well as in military vehicles.
For marine fuel tanks, the block of aluminum can be cut down to 0.90 inches minimum for smaller tanks and to 0.125 inches minimum for larger tanks, as per the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) recommendation. The recommended aluminum alloys 5086, 5083, or 5052 would comfortably meet the designated performance requirements.
A 12-inch-thick aluminum plate can be cut down to a standard thickness of up to 5 inches to design strong pressure vessels used for launch vehicles. The ideal thickness for bars and tubes will vary as per the design temperature. ASME Section IID Table 1A clearly describes the standard recommended material strength for designing pressure vessels for various max temperature cases. Usually, 6061-T6 aluminum alloys are highly preferred to ensure the best performance.
Depending on the hull structure and degree of protection required against environmental corrosion, the ideal aluminum thickness may vary. Usually, marine-grade aluminum plates have a thickness of up to 1.2 inches and are made from 5xxx series alloys, including 5086, 5083, and 5052. Large blocks of aluminum are transformed into thin hull plates and frames. For boat hulls, the 5086-H32 alloy is ideal for offering excellent stress corrosion cracking resistance. Marine hulls are made with 5083 alloys of three different tempers—H321, H111 & H116. An ideal metal supplier can help you cut large 5083 billets into the desired thickness for easy processing.
Cutting Thick Aluminum Plate to Size
It’s imperative to use an efficient computerized industrial saw to cut a thick aluminum block to the required size, as this process generates a lot of frictional heat and thus requires a constant steady supply of coolant and lubricant to keep the workpiece and the tool safe from breaking down. A computer-guided saw can easily shape a 12-inch-thick aluminum block from different angles without compromising the surface finish.
However, setting up an advanced saw on the floor can be costly for small shop owners and fabricators. On the other hand, in the absence of the right tools and equipment, it’s difficult to properly transform a thick block of aluminum into square or rectangular billets.
Precision-Cut Thick Aluminum Plates for Any Application
Industrial Metal Service can provide fabricators with thick aluminum plates cut to size for any application. Our MetlSaw NF12-T12 can quickly and easily cut 12-inch-thick aluminum plates up to 12 feet long and 12 feet wide with a high degree of precision and accuracy. This versatile industrial saw was made to hold the tightest tolerances, and it can produce surface finishes as low as 12 microinches.