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What is an Aluminum micro-channel tube?
Aluminum micro-channel tubes, also called multi-port extrusion, this flat and rectangular extruded tube is made of several channels that increase the heat transfer through a higher surface per volume ratio.
The effects of processing on the mechanical behavior of aluminum micro-channel tubing used in brazed automotive heat exchangers are evaluated in light of the stringent requirements of CO2 (R744 refrigerant) based systems. An apparatus was developed to simulate system operating conditions of pressure and elevated temperature in tube samples. Commercially extruded and processed AA3102 micro-channel tube samples were given a simulated brazing thermal cycle and a series of static and cyclic pressure tests were performed at various temperatures. Failure stress in the tube walls was estimated and compared to tensile test data. At room temperature, the strength of the post-braze micro-channel decreased by about 17%, and about 22% at 180 °C (compared to tube that was not given a simulated brazing thermal cycle). This decrease in strength is attributed to large grains that form during the brazing thermal cycle.
Drawn aluminum tube vs. Extruded aluminum tube
One of the most versatile metals in manufacturing today is Aluminum. Aluminum is used in many industries to produce products in an almost limitless number of shapes for an almost limitless number of uses. With such versatility, it’s no surprise that there are several different manufacturing methods for producing aluminum products. Two of the most commonly used processes for shaping aluminum include the extrusion process and the drawing process. When comparing the two, there are a few key differences. Read on to learn about the aluminum extrusion and drawing processes, as well as tips for how to choose which one is right for your project.
Drawn Aluminum Process
The drawn aluminum tubing process happens by having the aluminum pulled, or drawn into the die cavity, during which the aluminum undergoes what is called plastic deformation. Plastic deformation happens when the aluminum is stretched to achieve the desired shape. When stretching aluminum, it’s important to pay close attention to the flexibility and elasticity of the metal. Stretch too much and it will become weak and brittle. Drawn aluminum is most often used to create products including pots, cans, tubes and other circular objects.
Extruded Aluminum Process
Extruded aluminum differs from drawn aluminum in that the formed shape is made by first heating the metal to a very high temperature until it is soft and malleable but not liquid. After the aluminum has been heated, it is then forced or pushed through a die. The extruded metal tubing product that comes out the other end will be molded by the die and shaped to the desired final product. To visualize the extrusion process, it can help to picture a tube of toothpaste. In this case, the toothpaste is shaped by the circular opening through which the toothpaste is pushed. After the aluminum has been extruded, it will begin to cool and harden. As it hardens, the finished extruded tubing product becomes strong and durable and will hold the desired shape.
Differences between Drawn vs. Extruded Aluminum
While both processes can be used to create similar finished products, there are a few differences found between the two. These differences include:
Cost. In general, the extrusion process tends to be cheaper than the drawn aluminum tubing process. This is because cold drawing aluminum often requires a larger collection of tools and materials to complete.
Products created. The extrusion and drawing processes will often be used to produce different types of products. For example, extruded aluminum can be used to make tubing, doors, window frames, brackets, and railings. Drawn aluminum will similarly be used to create tubing, in addition to products like cans and pots.
Tube vs Pipe - The Differences Explained in Plain English
You have probably heard the terms pipe and tube used interchangeably, and there's a good chance you aren't exactly sure what the difference is between them. Most people, even experts working in related industries, don't actually know. After all, how different can hollow cylinders get, and who really cares enough to go and look? Well, I had to know...
Even looking on the internet can lead to confusion, as many websites have mistakenly misidentified the real differences between them. Well, since I'm a know-it-all, let me try and explain as best I can what exactly differentiates tube and pipe. There's a nifty looking infographic you can share at the bottom.
Tubing is generally used for structural purposes and the OD is an important and exact number. Tubing size is specified by OD and WT (wall thickness). The stated OD and measured OD are generally within very close tolerances of each other. Tubing is usually more expensive than pipe due to tighter manufacturing tolerances.
Interestingly, while the stated and measured OD’s of tubing are almost exact in most cases, copper tubing generally has a measured OD that is 1/8” larger than stated OD. As such, maybe it should be called copper pipe. However, stainless steel, aluminum, and steel tubing all have measured and stated OD’s that are exact or within a specified tolerance, usually in the thousandths of an inch (e.g. +/- 0.04").
Pipes are categorized as tubular vessels used in pipeline and piping systems, and commonly transport gases and fluids. They are specified by “Nominal Pipe Size” (NPS) and Schedule (wall thickness). NPS is a size standard established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and should NOT be confused with the various thread standards such as NPT and NPSC.
The manufacturing of Nominal Pipe Sizes from 1/8” to 12” is based on a standardized nominal outside diameter (OD) that is different from the measured OD. NPS pipe 14” and up have measured OD’s that correspond to the nominal size.
The reason many people, including plumbers, engineers, and others, mistakenly believe NPS refers to the ID on smaller pipes is because of how the standard was originally defined. The standardized OD was originally defined so that a pipe with a standardized OD and wall thickness typical of the period when it was established, would have a pipe ID that was approximately equal to the nominal size of the pipe. For example, 3” Schedule 40 NPS has an outside diameter and wall thickness that very roughly gives it an inside diameter of 3”. Regardless of the wall thickness the nominal OD of a pipe will not change.
The long and short is that the NPS was defined so you would know approximately what ID you were working with and could count on the OD never changing. Tubing is defined so you know exactly what OD you are working with and the ID is based on whatever the wall thickness is.
To know more details on the page aluminum tube vs. Pipe
The Differences Between Drawn & Extruded Aluminum
Aluminum is an extremely versatile material used in a wide range of products from hardware to soda cans. There are many different ways to shape aluminum, but all of them involve using some sort of die or mold. Drawn and extruded aluminum are the two primary types of aluminum production. With both methods, the aluminum is first formed into a billet, or long tube, then cut to the specific length, depending on the product.
Extruded aluminum tubing is made by heating the aluminum and forcing it through a die. What comes out on the other side is the shape of the final product. To visualize the process, imagine pushing a ball of clay through a circle punched with holes. What comes out on the other side is a series of spaghetti-like strands. The shape of the die determines what the final product will look like. For example, an "I" shaped die creates aluminum I-beams. After the product comes out of the die, it is cooled and then stretched to remove any twisting that occurs during the cooling process. As it hardens, extruded aluminum becomes stronger. The hardening process can take place at room temperature, but since that can be time consuming, most manufacturers employ heated rooms to temper the aluminum quickly.
Extruded Aluminum Tubing
There are two types of structural tubing made by the extrusion process. In the first one, the aluminum tube is split and then resealed using high temperature, pressure and metallurgical welds. The seam created during this process is sometimes visible to the naked eye. Tubing made this way is not suitable for transporting gases or liquids under extreme pressure as there is a risk of the seam splitting. In the second process, the tube is produced by pushing a hollow billet through a die. Because this tube does not have a seam, it can safely be used to transport or store pressurized gases and liquids.
The main difference between extruded and drawn aluminum is the way the aluminum is shaped by the die. While extruded aluminum is pushed through a die to obtain its desired shape, drawn aluminum is pushed into a mold. The aluminum is stretched out into the mold, undergoing what is called plastic deformation. Determining the flexibility of the aluminum, or its plasticity, is a critical part of the process because the aluminum cannot be stretched to the point where it becomes brittle or tears. Drawn aluminum typically makes cans, pots and other circular objects.
Drawn Structural Tubing
In the beginning, a drawn structural tube goes through the same process as an extruded tube. However, where an extruded tube is cooled after it is forced through the die, the drawn tube is sent through a second die. This process is called cold drawing or cold working, and it is here that the final dimensions of the product are determined. A drawn tube is just as suitable for transporting gases or liquids under pressure as a seamless extruded tube.
A Brief Look At Aluminum Tube Products
For most people, the term “tube” brings to mind a long, cylindrical shaped object. And the round tube shape is typically the configuration of tubing. In the aerospace industry, however, metal tubing can also be square or rectangular.
The tube shape, specifications and composition all factor in to how and the tube material, or part, is used.
Tube Construction Basics
It’s important to keep in mind that when referring to or ordering tube material that there are a few basic measurements, or specifications that are critical.
O.D. – outside diameter
I.D. – inside diameter
Because all tubes, regardless of their shape, have two walls these combine with the inner diameter to provide the overall outside diameter measurement.
When ordering aluminum tube parts there are specific nomenclature assigned to part numbers.
Round tube: e.g. 2024-T3 TUBE 2.00 X .125
Square tube: e.g. 7075-T6 TUBE 1SQ X .049
Rectangular tube: 6061-T6 TUBE 4.00 X 8.00 RECT (Note that the wall thickness is not listed.)
Metal tubing is available in many other materials in addition to aluminum. These include steel, titanium, brass/copper, stainless steel, as well as various alloys and carbon fiber composite materials.
And, depending on the primary metal, the materials can be produced in various types such as:
When to Use Aluminum Tubing
Aluminum tubing benefits a wide variety of industries. Outdoor recreation manufacturers use tubing to construct materials like tent poles, camp chair frames, and outdoor tables. In the medical industry, aluminum tubing appears in wheelchair frames, collapsible stretchers, bed frames, and crutches. Aerospace, automobile, and rail transporation manufacturers make use of aluminum tubing in fuselage, hydraulic systems, and fuel lines, and its heat-conductive capabilities render it a good alternative to steel or other heavier metals in refrigerators, engines, and HVAC systems. Aluminum tubing can also be found supporting chain-link fences, lining tables, and housing electric equipment such as desktop monitors.
Continental Steel, Aluminum Pipe and Tube Experts
Aluminum tubing offers not only flexibility and durability, but it is a lightweight, economic, highly conductive, resistant to corrosion, and environmentally friendly material well suited for many applications.
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Everything to know about Transformer Oil Filtration
Transformer_on_Pole. Transformers play an important role in the electrical power industry. Transformers convert power to appropriate levels for other system components to safely use. Transformers need to be maintained to guarantee long life. Moreover, a good quality and clean oil is essential for the transformer to provide efficient performance.
Transformer oil tends to degrade over time. The oil is exposed to undesirable materials like acids, metal dust, moisture etc. When transformers contain dissolved gases, dust, and other contaminants, it is time to take action for the oil to be filtered and purified.
Transformer maintenance and services centres maintain high quality equipment for treating oil using in line transformer oil filtration techniques. These techniques help sustain an excellent performance, safety and ease of operation for transformer maintenance staff.
About Transformer Oil Filtering:
Transformer oil purifier requires filtered and dried oil. During its usage, the insulating oil absorbs moisture and gets polluted by sopping fibers, dirty particles, aging products, and soot. Even unused oil is not clean enough as it may have absorbed moisture from the air or may have got polluted in the barrel it was stored in. The efficiency of the oil as an insulating material is highly reduced as the moisture level increases. Hence, transformer oil filtering is an important process which eliminates solid particles, dissolved gasses, and dissolved water. The electrical properties of the oil can be enhanced by filtering, dehydration, and degassing. Oil Filtering keeps the transformer in good condition and increases its life.
Comparison between ordinary oil filter and vacuum oil filter
Ordinary oil filter
Ordinary Oil Purification Machine is a mobile device composed of a filter bed, oil pump, and coarse filter.
the oil filter is featured to prevent contaminants from the engine oil without interrupting the lubricating process. oil filters are applicable in different types of hydraulic machinery.
The device is used in internal combustion engines both on- and off-road motor vehicles. The great importance of oil filters in modern combustion engines that allow first-class lubrication for seamless operation.
An oil filter is a mechanical device that removes contaminants, dirt, and unburned fuel from circulating. The component allows just the circulation of fresh oil into the engine and it keeps the dirt. This is why the oil filter needs to be treated or change within some period of time.
an oil filter is equipped on other vehicle hydraulic systems, such as automatic transmissions, and power steering. Gas turbine engines, such as jet also uses oil filter. The dirty oil is imported from the center and filtered through the filtration chamber to extract clean oil from another corresponding channel of the filter plate.
Vacuum Oil Purifier
A vacuum oil filter can efficiently remove the free water and solid pollutants in oil-based products such as hydraulic oil, lubricating oil, gas turbine oil, and so on.
The oil filter can remove free water in the medium through the process of demulsification, coalescence, and separation. The content of free water in the treated medium is less than 200PPM, and the limit is less than 100PPM. It can also filter out solid particles in the medium. Control oil cleanliness can achieve the filter medium of solid particles. Control the cleanliness of oil, can reach the NAS4 pole or higher. (note: the equipment is not suitable for low water requirements, such as removal of dissolved water. One solution at this point is to use the production series of coaled-negative pressure oil filters, which quickly remove large amounts of water from the oil and eventually reduce the water content to 100PPM or less than 5PPM at the limit.
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Vacuum Pump Maintenance
The transformer is one of the main assets in the electrical power industry which needs TRANSFORMER OIL REGENERATION SERVICES, the industry needs to be maintained for guaranteed uninterrupted power transmission in order to get assured revenue benefits. Transformer oils are important for the functional transformers and are the dielectric substance that helps in maintaining their temperature. Transformer oils are vital for the proper running and functioning of the transformers.
Be Organized and Document Everything
Start by generating a checklist of routine maintenance activities. The pump manufacturer typically provides this as part of the operating manual. Second, incorporate a maintenance log documenting all routine maintenance, repairs and component replacement.
The log will play a critical role in diagnosing future problems, scheduling various maintenance activities, and stocking spare parts. Install a running hour meter to document the number of operating hours on the pump between service activities and enter this into the log. If possible, measure and electronically record the vacuum before and after the pump during every operating cycle, as well as the pump-down times and ultimate vacuum level achieved in the furnace. This information is often collected and stored as data points in the furnace’s data acquisition system for process reasons. It can also be useful for planning and scheduling maintenance. Changes in these variables can be programmed into the furnace control system to notify the operator when a maintenance inspection or a specific maintenance activity is necessary.
Mainly there are three types of oil treatment processes:
Purification with Drying Process
Regeneration or Reclamation with Degassing
The Filtering Process involves transformer oil filtering at a temperature of about 40 degrees Celsius. The process filters fine contaminated particles with the help of a filtering device.
The Lube Oil Purifier with Drying Process heats the oil to a maximum temperature of 90 degrees Celsius and removes acidic polar components from the transformer oil. A process of degassing under vacuum follows.
Transformer Oil Regeneration Machine is similar to the Purification with Drying Process but uses extra oxidant additives. This is the most effective method by which the oil can be regenerated in a cost-effective manner. However, the safety of the environment must be considered before undertaking this process.
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Ice Machine Evaporators
Your ice machine evaporator is one of the most important ice maker components as far as producing ice is concerned. The evaporator is responsible for freezing, forming, and releasing ice cubes.
From a refrigeration standpoint, the evaporator plate is where ice-cold refrigerant freezes water into ice. This ice machine component helps to freeze ice into its designated ice shape, whether it’s crescent ice, square ice, or other shapes.
The Chinese evaporator also works to release ice off of it and into a storage compartment (either a dispenser or ice storage bin). Different manufacturers have specific ways to release the cubes off the evaporator plate. For instance, Hoshizaki ice makers rely on water harvest to release the cubes.
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Manitowoc ice makers use hot gas created during the ice-making process. A hot gas valve (another expensive ice machine component to repair) redirects this gas to the evaporator, where it’s used to heat the plate until the ice falls off.
There are a number of issues that can lead to big repair costs. They include:
Warping of the plate
The plate separating
Nickel plating on the evaporator stripping off
Separator rows falling out
Evaporator repairs can cost as 1000s of dollars to fix. Large ice maker evaporator repairs might be so expensive the price of a new ice machine might be cheaper than the repair itself. Routine maintenance is the best way to prevent most of these issues from occurring.
When it comes to nickel-plated evaporators (common on Manitowoc ice machines), using harsh acids can lead to severe damage. If you plan on cleaning your evaporator plate, make sure to use a nickel-safe cleaner and follow the instructions on the label.
Choosing the Best Flake Machine for Your Home
Choosing the best Chinese flake ice machine for your home can be confusing at first. You don't want to buy one that provides more ice than you'll ever need or one that produces too little. Finding one that fits your needs involves knowing what it is you are trying to accomplish and how often you'll want to use it at full capacity.
To help, we've tried out several on the market today and determined what it is you need to determine before making a purchase. Here are several key features and functionalities to look for so you can make the best possible choice for your home needs.
● Space Availability: Although you may have a use in mind for your ice machine, the first thing to consider is what type ofspace is available for one. Fortunately, ice makers come in a variety of sizes and shapes. These can be countertop, undercounter, freestanding, or portable. Most ice machines require space near a water source and an electrical outlet, so consider these factors as you search for the perfect spot.
● Ice Maker Type: The type of ice maker you choose will depend on how you plan to use it. If you want to entertain often, add a freestanding or countertop model to your home bar or entertainment area. If you want to pull out your flake ice maker during children's parties or on scorching hot summer afternoons, you most likely only need a portable unit to which you add your own ice and have it crushed or flaked for use in snowcones or other treats.
● Ice Variety: Do you want a unit that makes only flake ice or offers you a choice of different ice types? Your type choices include nugget ice, cube ice, crescent ice, flake ice, and delicately shaved ice. While it is difficult to find a do-it-all ice maker, you do have some variety in the units available today.
● Amount of Ice Needed: If this is your first ice machine purchase, you may find it challenging to determine how much ice you need overall. Ask yourself how often you will need flake ice. Will it just be for special events for a small group? Or do you plan to install one near your home bar for entertaining regularly? There are ice machines that make up to 99 lbs. of ice in a 24-hour period and hold a capacity of 29 lb.s at any given time, which is great for entertaining larger groups.
● Drainage: Where there's ice, there's water. Proper drainage capabilities are essential. Most ice machines added to homes today, such as countertop or freestanding, usually allow for 1 of 2drain options: Gravity or drain pumps. The drainage you choose often depends on how close you will be setting up your ice maker to a working sink drain. If it is around 2' away, a gravity drain works well. The other option is a drain pump for those ice machines not placed near sinks or without a way to move downwards toward a drain.
Electrical Setup: The majority of ice makers require either a 115-volt or a 220-volt outlet. Standard wall outlets in your home usually are 115-volt receptacles. For the larger, commercial-style ice machines, the outlets look like your washer and dryer outlets.
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Eaton Elocker Installation - Electric Traction
As you’ve read with our Four Wheeler and Pickup Truck of the Year competitions, modern 4x4s are downright impressive right out of the box. While comfort and fuel economy seem to be the focus these days, some OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are installing key features intended to attract off-road enthusiasts. Items such as mud-terrain tires, off-road-oriented suspensions, and our personal favorite, selectable differential lockers. Jeep, Ram, Ford, Toyota, and Land Rover all have new 4x4s that offer at least one (typically rear) selectable locking differential.
What do all of these traction aids have in common? They are all electronically actuated. That’s right. No air, no cables, no special levers—just a simple press of a button and the locker is engaged. And since selectable Elockers offer the best balance of on-road invisibility and off-road performance, it’s a no-brainer why they are the only locker option offered in a factory 4x4. Like many of you, we spend thousands of miles of on-road time behind the wheel of our 4x4. Living in the Southeast, we also get a broad range of winter conditions, which often benefit from having an open differential over an automatic locker. Needing some traction aids for our ’04 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, we took a play from the OEM playbook and decided to go with an electronically actuated locker set from Eaton.
What are portal axles, and why are they so cool?
That's a great question that many an off-road enthusiast has had and many have answered for themselves. Let us bypass that step and show you what makes portal axles
so darn cool for off-roading. Simply put, portal axles use a series of gears and a housing mounted on the axle ends or control arms next to the wheel to increase ground clearance under the axle. That raises the centerline of the axle and axle tubes or control arms, raises the differential relative to the wheel mounting surface, and pushes the wheels down relative to the differential and axle tubes or control arms. It's like free ground clearance at what is usually the vehicle's lowest point. And, as you know if you've spent time on the trail, the lowest fixed point on your vehicle is usually what stops your 4x4 from moving forward when you get stuck. Portal axles are a cool, although somewhat complex answer to a simple problem that we have all had off-road. The effect results in the same benefits as running a much larger tire without many of the complications that larger tires would add.
THE USES OF ALUMINUM COIL
Aluminum is a truly remarkable metal. Due to its signature properties (malleability, rust and corrosion resistance, etc.) countless individuals have taken aluminum and have used it for numerous applications. If you are like many, it can be difficult to understand what exactly the uses of aluminum coil are. Do not worry. Wrisco has prepared a small list of industries and practices that rely on aluminum coil to get the job done. So if you are curious to know what the uses of aluminum coil are, then continue reading below.
THE USES OF ALUMINUM COIL
You might be surprised to find out that the construction of most forms of transportation is actually made with aluminum coil. Transportation vehicles such as automobiles and cars are manufactured from aluminum coils. This is because such vehicles will require components that are lightweight, durable and not rust easily since they will be used daily. Parts of most transportation vehicles that rely on aluminum coil for construction include engine components, air conditioners, radiators, wheel hubs, car doors and much more.
Thanks to its corrosion resistance, strength, and incredible processing and welding performance, aluminum coil will be often utilized a lot for architectural decoration. Other than surface decoration, most building projects rely on aluminum coil to help design structures, doors, windows, ceilings, curtain wall profiles, pressure plates, color coating sheets, etc.
Although this metal is not as electrically conductive as copper, aluminum coils are often utilized within many electronics. Aluminum is often particularly used in wiring as their corrosion resistance guarantees that wires will last for a long time. This is why objects such as power lines and air conditioners with electrical components are able to withstand the elements for a long time. This is why most electronics, in general, have a fairly long lifespan.
The main reason why food cans are made with aluminum coils is because of aluminum’s malleability, rust and corrosion resistance. Thanks to its malleability, aluminum cans are able to be easily manufactured in mass quantities. Due to its rust and corrosion resistance, aluminum is able to guarantee that the food within the can will be able to stay fresh for a long time. Besides cans, aluminum coils aid in the production of lid caps, bottles and other packaging.
AND MUCH MORE
Aluminum is such a versatile metal. Because of this, aluminum coils are utilized for a wide variety of reasons. Though we have listed some applications above, there are many more industries and practices that aluminum coils are used for. If you find that you need a metal type to help assist you in the production or function of a certain object or item, you very likely might just benefit from purchasing aluminum coil.
Is It Safe to Use Aluminum Foil in Cooking?
Aluminum foil is a common household product that’s often used in cooking.
Some claim that using aluminum foil in cooking can cause aluminum to seep into your food and put your health at risk.
However, others say it’s entirely safe to use.
This article explores the risks associated with using aluminum foil and determines whether or not it is acceptable for everyday use.
What Is Aluminum Foil?
Aluminum foil, or tin foil, is a paper-thin, shiny sheet of aluminum metal. It’s made by rolling large slabs of aluminum until they are less than 0.2 mm thick.
It’s used industrially for a variety of purposes, including packing, insulation and transportation. It’s also widely available in grocery stores for household use.
At home, people use aluminum foil for food storage, to cover baking surfaces and to wrap foods, such as meats, to prevent them from losing moisture while cooking.
People may also use aluminum foil to wrap and protect more delicate foods, like vegetables, when grilling them.
Lastly, it can be used to line grill trays to keep things tidy and for scrubbing pans or grill grates to remove stubborn stains and residue.
What are the main features that made aluminium so popular in the cookware sector?
The answer can be firstly researched in the main characteristics of this material. Aluminum is lightweight and it allows to manufacture a very manageable product. It is also 100% recyclable, hygienic, resistant to impact and corrosion. Aluminum uniformly distribute heat on the entire surface of the pan, therefore improving the cooking of different types of food.
How aluminum circles are made?
After the hot rolling process, a cold rolling phase reduces aluminum to the thickness our customers require. The coil pass then through a press where circles are sheared off in the needed diameter. The circles are finally placed in an oven for the annealing process: this gives the metal the right mechanical properties, making deformation (deep-drawing) feasible in order to obtain the desired pan or pot.
What is the main strength of Laminazione Sottile?
The process created and developed by Laminazione Sottile implies that the circles, rather than being stacked and then annealed in a chamber furnace, are on the contrary subjected to annealing in a conveyor furnace (flash annealing). This makes the aluminum grains finer and with more homogeneous size, thus determining better mechanical properties of the final product. After the annealing, the circles finally pass through a levelling machine to obtain perfect flatness.
What are the advantages ?
The aluminum circles are perfectly flat and separated (not stuck), unlike those cooked in the chamber oven after stacking.
The circles are suitable for automated supply systems for the production lines: they do not slow down the line and do not need manual separation.
The better mechanical characteristics of our product make the circles’ roughness much uniform after the mechanical sanding process (used by Customers manufacturing pots/pans lacquered with antisticking or protective coatings).
The flash annealing gives a better metallurgical structure and mechanical characteristics, allowing the metal higher drawing capabilities.
The Debate Rages On: Air Lockers or E-lockers?
The two main components of off-roading are simple: overcome obstacles and maintain traction. In fact, aftermarket mods thrown onto off-road rigs are aimed at beefing up a vehicle’s ability to perform these two tasks. A locking differential is certainly of no exception. But the debate rages on among off-road enthusiasts as to which is better: Air Lockers or E-lockers?
Awhile back, we broke down the science behind open, limited slip, and locking differentials in a Tech Corner right here on the Engine Block. So, if you don’t yet know the basics, click here for a quick lesson.
For the rest of ya’s, here’s the diet version:
A differential is designed to allow both wheels to rotate at different rates of speed, essentially allowing a vehicle to turn properly. Most stock vehicles come with open differentials, and in some cases limited slip differentials. While both of those setups are fine for pavement driving, they are less than ideal for off-road excursions. In low traction situations, you don’t want to be caught with one tire spinning faster than the others—if they’re even turning at all. A locked differential, which locks the axles together so that both wheels receive full power from the engine at all times, will provide the maximum traction you need to conquer obstacles on the trail.
Understand Your Options
Before we get into which is better— air lockers or e-lockers —it’s important to understand the purpose of (and differences between) each.
For street use, locked differentials pose a problem. Namely, with those axles locked together, turning is reduced and places strain on your equipment. So, unless you have an off-road vehicle expressly dedicated to trail-riding, a permanently locked differential is going to cause more headaches than fun. Enter air lockers and e-lockers. These units are designed to allow users to switch from an open differential to a locked differential as needed, either through air pressure or an electronic switch.
Since ARB is the go-to brand for this style of air locking differential, let’s use one of its units as an example. Inside of an ARB air locker, you’ll find all the familiar components that are housed in an open diff. However, when pneumatic pressure is applied, a locking collar slides forward, effectively locking the gears together. This action converts the open differential into a spool.
A source of on-board, compressed air is necessary to provide the air pressure, and is usually linked up to a switch on the dash. When the switch engages, the air pressure is supplied through the air lines to the differential. Until the pressure is let off, the collar inside will keep those gears locked together.
A hard selling point for air lockers is that, because they work on pneumatic pressure, there is a near-immediate engagement of the system. In fact, the ARB air locker mentioned above, engages in less than a second, and it can be switched on at any vehicle speed. (That is, “as long as the axle shafts are spinning at equal speeds with no differential of speed between the wheels of that axle,” says the manufacturer.)
This is a major feather in the cap for air lockers—as those few seconds and inches of rotation can make a big difference when navigating tricky trails.
E-lockers, on the other hand, use an electromagnet to convert the differential into a spool. Inside an e-locker, you’ll find that the magnet pulls two roller cams apart. After this happens, ball bearings are used to keep them separated. The separation of these cams pushes heavy pins down into the side gear of the differential, locking them together. These systems also work with the use of a switch that is mounted inside of the vehicle.
E-lockers do not rely on an outside source of power, other than 12-volt power. While this is an advantage over air lockers (which need both the 12-volt and the compressor), e-lockers rely on roller cams for engagement. This means that even after the switch is flipped, a degree of rotation will need to occur in order for the locking mechanisms to engage. Improper operation of the system will result in damage to interior moving parts, so a level of care needs to be taken when these lockers are put to use.
Often, e-lockers are used as factory equipment on many vehicles. (Toyota, Ford, GM, and Chrysler all sell models that come stock with this style of locking differential.) In the debate of air lockers or e-lockers, this tends to add fuel to fire. It gives the sense that because manufacturers rely on e-lockers, so should the aftermarket. However, when these factory units fail, that gives the air locker camp more ammunition.
So, which is it? Air lockers or E-lockers?!
Well, it’s not that simple…
Remember how we said air lockers have the added advantage of almost immediate engagement? Well, that convenience comes at a cost. As we stated in our previous Tech Corner, factoring in the additional expense of either an on-board air compressor or CO2 tank, not to mention the parts and labor to install, the upgrade can run you near $1,500 just to update one carrier.
And while e-lockers may be more cost-effective, there are still labor costs to consider as well. Unless you have a reasonable amount of experience working on any differential, you really want to take this job to a professional. Ideally, you want a shop that has experience working specifically with locking differentials for off-road vehicles.
Dan Guyer, Wheel and Tire Category Manager at Keystone Automotive, is our go-to guy for all-things-off-road because of his extensive knowledge and real-world experience. When it comes to what’s easier to install—air lockers or e-lockers—he offered this advice: “The electronic stuff—there’s a wire in there that can fail. And on the air stuff? Well, there’s a line in there that can fail. If you go to an installer who’s really good at it, then it really doesn’t matter. The installer knows how to route things and use quality materials. You go to a well known off-road shop and they’re going to do it right.”
Front or Rear
When weighing the pros and cons (as well as the cost) of air lockers or e-lockers, consider whether or not both differentials need to be locked. How hard are you looking to push that rig? Obviously, by installing lockers to both the front and rear of the vehicle, you will reach ultimate potential in terms of traction. However, unless you’re pushing it to extreme levels, you really don’t have to go this route.
If you’ve settled on only upgrading one, deciding between front or rear should be balanced with intended purpose. Do you mostly use that truck for hauling and towing, with occasional off-road wheeling thrown in for fun? A rear-locking differential may be the best bet for you, as the weight will be primarily transferred to the rear wheels, helping to maintain traction and towing/payload capacity.
If hardcore off-roading is more your game, consider the front-locking differential. Research indicates giving that additional bite to the front of the rig makes it easier to pull through difficult situations, rather than trying to push.
As with most aftermarket modifications, the buck doesn’t exactly stop there. While the differential is being pulled apart, you’ll want to consider installing a new ring and pinion as well. The carrier is responsible for telling the wheels when to spin, not how much. If you’re looking for maximum off-road traction, a lower ring gear goes a long way.
Even if you have a decent gear ratio installed, mileage and hard use could have worn it down. Throwing old stuff on new parts is begging for additional costs to be made sooner down the road, so you might as well address it now. And of course, reinforcing the setup further with stronger axles is always a wise investment.
Pound for Pound: Deciding Which One YOU Need
It’s always important to get the best bang for your buck. As we mentioned before, some people feel that since automakers opt for e-lockers on stock vehicles, they must be better. Guyer weighed in on the discussion with some great insight: “When you buy quality components, it doesn’t matter the way that they lock. It’s about the level of quality and what kind of warranty you got with it… Typically, [aftermarket parts] will be made with better materials than the OE stuff because they’re not made for ‘Hey I just bought a brand-new F-150!’ They’re made for ‘Hey I’m taking my Jeep out to Rausch Creek, or Johnson Valley, or Moab—and I’m going to beat on it. I need it to survive.’ That’s the aftermarket. They take what the OE gave you and they improve upon it. That’s the beauty of it.”
So, if e-lockers are for you, then it’s still wise to turn to the aftermarket.
In reality, either option is fine for light-duty use. Both will effectively lock up the wheels on command, increasing traction and fun on the trail. But for those hardcore applications where a split second and just a few scant inches of rotation make all the difference—well, we have to pick a side. Air lockers are the real winner. Yes, the cost is higher, but the reliability and instant engagement dubs them the superior unit.
SHOCK ABSORBERS EXPLAINED
In their simplest form, shock absorbers are hydraulic (oil) pump like devices that help to control the impact and rebound movement of your vehicle's springs and suspension. Along with smoothening out bumps and vibrations, the key role of the shock absorber is to ensure that the vehicle’s tyres remain in contact with the road surface at all times, which ensures the safest control and braking response from your car.
What do shock absorbers do?
Essentially, shock absorbers do two things. Apart from controlling the movement of springs and suspension, shock absorbers also keep your tyres in contact with the ground at all times. At rest or in motion, the bottom surface of your tyres is the only part of your vehicle in contact with the road. Any time that a tyre's contact with the ground is broken or reduced, your ability to drive, steer and brake is severely compromised.
Despite popular belief, shock absorbers do not support the weight of a vehicle.
In more detail...
Firstly, a little bit of science. Shock absorbers work by taking the kinetic energy (movement) of your suspension and converting it to thermal energy (heat) that is then dissipated into the atmosphere through the mechanism of heat exchange.
But it's nowhere near as complicated as it may sound.
As mentioned, shock absorbers are basically oil pumps. A piston is attached to the end of a piston rod and works against hydraulic fluid in the pressure tube. As the suspension travels up and down, the hydraulic fluid is forced through orifices (tiny holes) inside the piston. Because the orifices only allow a small amount of fluid through the piston, the piston is slowed which in turn slows down spring and suspension movement.
Shock absorbers automatically adjust to road conditions because the faster the suspension moves, the more resistance they provide.
Types of shock absorbers
Although all shock absorbers do the same job, different types of vehicles and suspension designs require different types of shock absorbers which can appear radically different.
No matter the application, all shock absorbers fit into one of three broadly defined types conventional telescopic shock absorbers, struts or spring seat shocks.
Conventional telescopic shock absorbers
This is the simplest type of shock absorber and is generally replaced rather than repaired. This type of shock absorber can be found on both front and rear suspension systems and is relatively inexpensive.
Strut type shock absorbers
Although they do the same basic job, struts replace part of the suspension system and must be more ruggedly built to cope with greater loads and forces. Although most commonly seen on the front and rear of small to medium cars, larger cars are now tending towards strut based suspension design. The strut category is further divided into sealed and repairable units. As the name suggests, sealed units are designed to be fully replaced, whilst repairable (McPherson) struts are able to be fitted with replacement strut cartridges.
Spring seat shocks
The spring seat type shows characteristics of both telescopic and strut type shock absorbers. Like struts, a spring seat shock is a suspension unit and damping device in a single unit. Unlike struts however, they are not designed to be subject to high side loads. Built using similar components to conventional shock absorbers, spring seat shocks are also sealed requiring full replacement.
How do they work?
Shock absorbers are pump-like devices which keep your vehicle's tyres in contact with the road surface by controlling the rebound of its suspension springs. As long as your vehicle's tyres remain in contact with the road, steering, road handling and braking response will be optimal, helping to keep you safe.
Aluminum Plate and Sheet 101
Rolling begins with preheated sheet ingots that can weigh more than 20 tons. As the size of rolling mills has increased, so has the size of these ingots, but a typical ingot is approximately 6 feet wide, 20 feet long and more than 2 feet thick. The ingot is first heated to rolling temperature and fed into a breakdown mill, where it is rolled back and forth until the thickness has been reduced to just a few inches. The slab can be subsequently cold rolled or may be heat-treated to increase its strength. The highest strength alloys are heat treated and rapidly cooled to room temperature, after which they are stretched to straighten and relieve internal stress built up during rolling and heat-treating. They are aged naturally at room temperature or artificially aged in a furnace to develop the desired combination of strength and corrosion resistance. Finally, the plate is trimmed to final size. Plates produced in this manner may be used at full thickness, but are often machined into a variety of simple to complex shapes.
From plate to sheet and aluminum foil
The production of sheet or foil usually starts out the same way as plate but the slab is further rolled through a continuous mill to reduce thickness and wound into a coil at the end of the line. These coils are subsequently cold rolled, from one to several passes at cold rolling mills. Coils may be heated in a furnace to soften it for further cold rolling or produce the desired mechanical properties. Cold rolling is the last step for some sheet, but other types (referred to as heat-treatable) are subjected to further elevated-temperature processing to increase their strength.
Some sheet and foil products may also be produced using the continuous casting process in which molten metal enters the caster, which produces a hot rolled coil, thus bypassing the ingot casting and hot rolling steps.
Aluminum plate applications
Plate is used in heavy-duty applications such as those found in the aerospace, military and transportation product manufacturing. Aluminum plate, machined to shape, forms the skins of jets and spacecraft fuel tanks. It is used for storage tanks in many industries, in part because some aluminum alloys become tougher at supercold temperatures. This property is especially useful in holding cryogenic (very-low-temperature) materials. Plate is also used to manufacture structural sections for railcars and ships, as well as armor for military vehicles.
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