Manufacturing-based startups are definitely in the minority in 2020 since most of the focus has been set on producing digital products & services. Physical products have difficulty raising capital, and sometimes has high up-front costs to produce prototypes during the early stages of a project. This has startups seeking cost-effective materials to be used in their designs.
With that being said, aluminum is a solid choice as a material to be used for your project. It’s light, malleable, resistant to oxidation, and in high demand within both the United States and China.
The use of extrusion dies plays a particularly useful role in aluminum manufacturing as it can turn aluminum alloy into various shapes and sizes. These circular ceramic disks contain openings so that the aluminum is passed through using high heat and pressure to form the desired end product.
Photo of an extrusion die with four slots. – Via Wikimedia Commons
You may find extrusion dies as solid dies or hollow dies. Solid dies produce solid shapes using just one die, while hollow dies use multiple casts to produce objects.
Spark plasma sintering is also quite critical in the manufacturing of aluminum and other non-ferrous metals. It’s kind of new in the manufacturing world, but it is beneficial due to the ability to rapidly heat and cool metal.
Consider this manufacturing method as a modification of a hot press. The use of heat and a low-voltage pulsed current running directly through the aluminum, allowing it to go through the mold without heating it in a furnace.
These examples of processing aluminum take out the time and cost barriers of mass-producing metal parts, such as with cast dies or mechanical presses. Metals that are heavier and harder to work with, like steel or ferrous alloys, also can devastate your budget.
Why aluminum over plastic?
It’s apparent why aluminum or other nonferrous metals are preferable over steel, but it still has plastic to contend with. Plastic is gaining traction due to the 3D-printing movement allowing everyone to create complex plastic objects in their own home.
Plastic is easier to work with, has the ability to be pre-colored before forming, faster to produce, and has lighter end-products. It’s no wonder why it took the world by storm.
While you may save in time and production costs, plastic is weaker and not very resistant to heat. At least in mass-production operations, metal can also be cheaper in the long-run.
Examples Aluminum Startup Ideas
Aluminum can be used in quite a few business models. Some examples include:
- Aluminum bottles – Recyclable bottles for the beverage industry are always in high demand. You may even manufacture bottles for your own beverage startup.
- Aluminum tools – Lightweight tools are desired by certain tradesmen or hobbyists.
- Construction materials – Lightweight materials like door frames, windows, or panels.
- Computer parts – Aluminum is highly desired for computer cases, processor heat sinks, and other integral components.
- Kitchen utensils – Pots, pans, forks, and spoons are commonly made with aluminum due to its lightweight profile and ease of shipping.