Aluminum is an extraordinarily versatile material. This measure of functionality would not be feasible without the presence of different production styles. When it comes to aluminum shaping, there are two popular methods: drawn and extruded.

Both processes involve using a die or mold, and follow identical production guidelines: aluminum is shaped into a billet and cut to a specific length. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Drawn and extruded aluminum each possesses unique characteristics and qualities with value-added benefits for your business.

When it’s time to submit an RFQ for your next aluminum project, what are some things you should consider with drawn or extruded aluminum? We’ve compiled a list of questions and answers laying out the pros, the cons and main differences between the two methods to ensure you get the best solution.

How does the drawn aluminum process work?

As we mentioned, aluminum is curated into a shape with heat and involves a mold or die cavity. Drawn aluminum follows suit, but with a significant key difference: plastic deformation.

In this process, when aluminum is forced through a die, it’s stretched out to the form of the desired part, then pushed through a second die, undergoing what is known as cold drawing or cold working. The ability to permanently distort a material to compressive, bending or torsion stresses is called plastic deformation. This point of the process is when the final dimensions of the product are determined.

Which applications work best with drawn aluminum?

Intricate or circular objects such as cans, tubes, pots and pans; drawn aluminum is ideal for products requiring tight tolerances and thin walls, ensuring structural integrity and predictable performance under pressure.

drawn aluminum shapes

Are there any flaws with drawn aluminum tubing?

It can’t be stressed enough the importance of knowing the plasticity of aluminum before beginning the process. If the material is pulled too much, it becomes brittle and fragile, and ultimately tears. So, be mindful of aluminum grade, alloying elements and strengthening process when going with drawn aluminum.

What is extruded aluminum?

Aluminum extrusion is the method of forcing aluminum through a shaped opening in a die or mold, producing a desired configuration of the final product. To visualize the operation, think of children’s modeling clay. It comes with a shape tool kit featuring different molds and profiles. Select a specific profile; push the clay through the uniquely shaped hole and out comes the predicted shape – hence, extruded aluminum.

How does the aluminum extrusion process differ from drawn aluminum?

The extruded aluminum method begins with heating the material to a high temperature. Once the aluminum is soft and malleable, it’s forced through the die. The difference between aluminum extrusion and drawn aluminum is temperature. As we stated, drawn applies cold drawing, which is conducted at room temperature, rather than at a very high temperature.

Which products are best for extruded aluminum?

With drawn aluminum, the best results are produced for small, detailed and round components. For extruded aluminum, there’s a considerable capacity to shape various applications, such as brackets, tubing, doors, window frames, railing and much more.

With costs, which process is the better bargain?

Cold drawing is more complex and involves an extensive collection of tools and materials to ensure the drawn aluminum process is completed effectively. Aluminum extrusion can achieve faster manufacturing with inexpensive tooling and less material waste. On average, you can expect to pay less for extruded aluminum than drawn aluminum. However, it all depends on the shape you are trying to produce.

There you have it – answers to the most important questions regarding drawn and extruded aluminum. Ready to begin your next aluminum project? Perhaps you have a few more questions you like answered? At Star Extruded Shapes, we are your complete aluminum extrusion provider with turnkey solutions for all of your project needs. Let’s talk today about taking your aluminum project to the next level.

What do aerospace, healthcare, oil and gas, military and defense and industrial manufacturers all have in common? The designers, the engineers and the builders of these industries entrust CNC (computer numerical control) precision machining to make dreams and visions – real and robust solutions, vital to business operations and moving the industry forward. Manufacturing has changed, to a great degree, because of CNC machines and the ability to reduce production costs, create faster lead times, ensure better accuracy and enhanced output.



It’s a process in manufacturing where pre-programmed computer software orchestrates the movement of plant tools and machinery. Instructions are inserted into the CNC machine through a CAD file and translated into a precise set of sequential commands. The application is used to automate a wide range of techniques, which for the longest time, were conducted manually, including milling, water jet cutting and laser cutting materials. This level of automation means machines can operate around the clock with the highest regard for worker safety.

CNC machines utilize multiple axis points, each operating with at least three-axis cuts: X (vertical), Y (horizontal) and Z-axis (depth). While most of the machines found on the shop floor have a moving bed, three-axis machinery remains in the same position. At the same time, the cutter operates along the X, Y and Z plane simultaneously. This multifunctional capability is best suited for mechanical parts that do not require a lot of detail and scale (i.e., milling slots, drilling holes, cutting sharp edges and creating customized parts). Unlike other equipment, three-axis CNC machines only need one workstation to complete a task, such as cutting into a shallow piece of material. However, three-axis has its limitations, especially when it comes to a more in-depth, complex product.


Like three-axis, a four-axis (A-axis) CNC precision machine presents the same capabilities, but with one key differentiator – an extra cutting direction for increased precision and accuracy of advanced machining. This added rotary movement around the X-axis allows cutting to happen along all axes and vertical axis separately – beneficial when holes or cuts need to be made on the side of a workpiece or around odd angles, such as a cylinder. The rotation opens the door to produce multiple face workpieces more efficiently and simultaneous rotating and milling, which are necessary to perform intricate spirals and contours.

This level of capability and efficiency means industries of all types, including architecture, oil and gas, construction, military and more favor utilizing four-axis machining to achieve product designs.



Four-axis machinery presents advantages over other three-axis machines – being used for intermittent cutting, continuous cutting or engraving curved services. Additional benefits of four-axis CNC machines include:


Higher Accuracy

Four-axis CNC machinery provides multiple faces to access without moving the piece out of a fixture, producing highly accurate features. This level of accuracy results in less scrap and a rise in profits.


Achieve Complexity in Part Designs

The most common reason to utilize such a machine is the ability to accomplish complex parts. Four-axis machinery, built for detailed work, can access odd angles without designing complicated fixturing.


Faster Part Production Time

Cycle time per part is reduced due to collective operations being performed in a single clamping. Four-axis does not have to be stopped to turn the part in the fixture, meaning no downtime to change tooling or having an operator to rotate the component manually.


Four-axis CNC machines can be used for different purposes, including creating art, medical equipment, advertising design, teaching, technology research, industrial parts, prototype building and more.



At Star Extruded Shapes, Inc., we offer the very best in CNC machines (12, in fact), including four-axis capabilities, to ensure you get the highest quality part, on-time and at the most competitive price. Click here to learn more about our capabilities and discover a faster and better way to get parts produced.