aluminum pipe

Tips for Working with Our Aluminum Products in Fabrication and Manufacturing

When choosing a metal for fabrication and manufacturing, aluminum is often the go-to material. It’s lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and boasts a high strength-to-weight ratio, making it a favorite among fabricators and manufacturers alike. 

However, working with aluminum requires some know-how to get the best results. We’ll explore practical tips for working with various types of aluminum, with a spotlight on some fantastic aluminum products available on Long Island from Half & Half Metal Supply. 

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice, these tips will help you make the most out of your aluminum projects.

Understanding Aluminum Products and Their Applications

Heat-Treatable Aluminum Sheet

aluminum sheet on roll

Heat-treatable aluminum sheets are incredibly versatile and can be strengthened through heat treatment processes. They’re ideal for applications that require a good balance of strength and ductility, such as automotive panels and aerospace components.


  • Always pre-clean the aluminum sheet to remove any contaminants before heat treatment.
  • Use a controlled environment to avoid inconsistencies in the heating process.
  • Allow the aluminum to cool gradually to prevent warping or cracking.

Aluminum Tread Plate

Aluminum tread plate, with its distinctive raised pattern, is perfect for non-slip surfaces and protective coverings. This unique pattern adds to its aesthetic appeal and enhances its functionality by providing excellent traction. 

This makes it an ideal choice for applications where safety is a priority. You’ll often see it in industrial settings, truck beds, and stair treads.

aluminum tread plate sheets


  • Cut the tread plate with a saw blade designed for non-ferrous metals to ensure clean edges.
  • Deburr the edges after cutting to prevent injuries and improve the fit.
  • When welding, use a filler rod that matches the alloy of the tread plate to maintain strength.

Aluminum Plain Plate

Aluminum plain plates, flat sheets of aluminum without any tread or pattern, are a staple in fabrication because of their excellent formability and wide range of applications. From construction to machinery, these plates can be shaped and welded with ease.


  • Use carbide-tipped tools for cutting and shaping to prolong tool life and achieve precise cuts.
  • Apply a suitable lubricant when machining to reduce friction and heat build-up.
  • Consider the thickness of the plate when selecting welding techniques; thinner plates may require TIG welding to avoid burn-through.

Aluminum Tool and Jig Plate

Aluminum tool and jig plates, known for their superior flatness and stability, are precision machined and stress-relieved, making them ideal for creating fixtures, molds, and jigs. 

These plates undergo a meticulous manufacturing process to ensure they meet the highest standards of dimensional accuracy and consistency. The stress-relieving treatment helps to eliminate internal stresses that can lead to warping or distortion over time, ensuring that the plates remain flat and stable even under heavy use.


  • Make sure the plates are properly clamped and supported during machining to maintain dimensional accuracy.
  • Use a stable cutting speed and feed rate to avoid vibrations that could affect the finish.
  • Regularly inspect and clean the plates to maintain their flatness and surface quality.

Working with Aluminum Bars and Shapes

aluminum round bars

Aluminum Bar (Square, Flat, Round, and Hexagon)

Aluminum bars come in various shapes, each suited for different applications, including square, flat, round, and hexagonal profiles. This diversity allows for their use in a wide range of projects, making them a versatile choice in both structural and decorative applications. 

Whether you’re creating structural components or decorative elements, aluminum bars offer flexibility and strength, ensuring that they can meet the demands of almost any design or engineering challenge.


  • For cutting, use a bandsaw with a fine-tooth blade to achieve smooth edges.
  • When machining, keep the feed rate moderate to avoid chatter and ensure a high-quality surface finish.
  • When bending aluminum bars, use a bending machine with the appropriate die to prevent cracking.

Aluminum Extruded Shapes

extruded aluminum

Extruded aluminum shapes are custom-made to specific profiles, providing endless possibilities for design and functionality. 

These shapes are produced by forcing aluminum through a die, creating precise cross-sectional profiles tailored to unique project requirements. This process allows for a high degree of customization, enabling the creation of complex and intricate designs that would be difficult or impossible with other materials.


  • Design your extrusions with uniform wall thickness to prevent weak spots.
  • Pre-drill any necessary holes before forming to avoid misalignment.
  • When joining extrusions, use fasteners or adhesives designed for aluminum to ensure a strong bond.

Aluminum Tubes and Pipes in Fabrication

Aluminum Round Tube

Aluminum round tubes are a versatile and widely used material in many industries, thanks to their combination of strength, light weight, and ease of fabrication. These tubes find common applications in frameworks, piping systems, and structural applications because of their robustness and adaptability.


  • Use a tube cutter or a fine-tooth saw for cutting to maintain roundness.
  • When welding, ensure the tube is clamped to avoid movement and achieve a clean joint.
  • For bending, use a mandrel bender to maintain the tube’s integrity and prevent kinks.

Aluminum Square and Rectangular Tubes

Aluminum square and rectangular tubes offer excellent strength and versatility, making them a popular choice for a wide range of applications, particularly in construction and support structures. Their geometric shapes provide significant advantages in terms of load-bearing capacity and ease of fabrication.


  • When cutting, support the tube to prevent deformation.
  • Ensure precise measurements and angles before welding to maintain structural integrity.
  • Use internal supports when bending to avoid collapsing the tube’s walls.

Aluminum Pipe

aluminum pipes

Aluminum pipes are versatile and used in various industries, from plumbing to automotive.

Aluminum pipes are incredibly versatile and find applications across an array of industries because of their durable, lightweight, and corrosion-resistant properties. 

Their adaptability makes them a preferred choice in sectors ranging from plumbing to automotive, and beyond. Whether it’s for carrying fluids, structural support, or heat transfer, aluminum pipes offer a durable and reliable solution.


  • Cut with a pipe cutter for clean, burr-free edges.
  • Use compatible fittings and couplings to ensure leak-proof connections.
  • When threading, use a high-quality lubricant to avoid galling.

Aluminum Beams in Structural Applications

Aluminum Beam

Aluminum beams are crucial in construction for their strength and lightweight properties. These beams are particularly well-suited for frameworks and support structures, providing structural integrity without adding excessive weight to the overall construction.


  • Use precision cutting tools to ensure accurate lengths and angles.
  • When joining beams, use high-strength fasteners or welding techniques suited for aluminum.
  • Regularly inspect beams for any signs of stress or wear, especially in load-bearing applications.

General Tips for Working with Aluminum

Surface Preparation

Proper surface preparation is key to successful aluminum fabrication. Ensuring that the aluminum surface is clean and free from contaminants is essential to achieve strong, high-quality welds and coatings.


  • Clean the Surface: Use a degreaser to remove oils, grease, and other contaminants. This step is crucial as any residue can interfere with welding, bonding, and coating processes.
  • Remove Oxidation: Aluminum naturally forms an oxide layer when exposed to air. Use a wire brush or an abrasive pad to remove this layer, especially around the areas to be welded or painted. This helps ensure a better bond and a cleaner finish.

Cutting and Machining

Efficient cutting and machining practices can make a significant difference in the quality of your work. Aluminum’s softness compared to other metals means it can be easily cut and machined, but it also requires specific tools and techniques to achieve the best results.


  • Use Carbide-Tipped Tools: Carbide-tipped tools handle the specific challenges of cutting aluminum, offering longevity and precision. They help in achieving smooth cuts and reducing tool wear.
  • Apply Cutting Fluids: Cutting fluids help reduce heat generated during machining, which can cause aluminum to stick to the tool. They also extend the life of the tools and improve the quality of the cut by reducing friction.

Joining and Welding

Joining aluminum can be challenging but rewarding with the right techniques. Aluminum’s high thermal conductivity means it dissipates heat quickly, requiring specific welding methods to ensure strong joints.


  • Match the Filler Material: Always use a filler material that matches the base aluminum alloy to maintain optimal strength and prevent issues such as cracking or corrosion.
  • Use TIG or MIG Welding: Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) and Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding are the preferred methods for welding aluminum. These methods provide strong, clean joints and are suitable for various thicknesses.
  • Practice on Scrap Pieces: Before working on your final product, practice welding on scrap pieces of the same aluminum type and thickness. This helps you refine your technique and settings, ensuring better results on the actual workpiece.

Finishing and Coating

colored anodized aluminum parts

Finishing aluminum not only enhances its appearance but also provides additional protection against environmental factors. Proper finishing techniques can significantly extend the lifespan of aluminum products.


  • Anodizing: Anodizing is an electrochemical process that increases the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the surface of aluminum, providing excellent corrosion resistance. It can also be dyed in various colors, adding an aesthetic appeal to the finished product.
  • Powder Coating: Powder coating involves applying a dry powder to the aluminum surface, which is then cured under heat to form a durable, decorative finish. It is available in a wide range of colors and finishes, offering both protection and visual enhancement.

Working with aluminum can be a rewarding experience, especially when you understand the nuances of each type and the best practices for fabrication. By following these general tips for working with aluminum, you can ensure high-quality results in your fabrication and manufacturing projects. 

Proper surface preparation, efficient cutting and machining, effective joining and welding, and thorough finishing and coating are essential steps to achieve durable and aesthetically pleasing aluminum products.

Your Long Island Aluminum Supplier


At Half & Half Metal Supply, we offer a wide range of aluminum products to meet Long Island’s fabrication needs. From heat-treatable sheets to extruded shapes, we’re here to help with FREE next-day delivery on Long Island! 

Reach out to us for more information or call 631-944-8500 to place an order. Happy fabricating!