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Aluminum Extrusions

April 8, 2024
6 min read

What is an Aluminum Extrusion and Why is it a Game Changer?

Blending design innovation, simplicity and streamlined production, the Tune M1 represents a giant leap forward in the canopy truck camper category with an industry-best space-to-weight ratio, exceptional performance, and a stylish, modern aesthetic. Much of its success comes from its pioneering engineering, including using custom-fabricated, interlinking and highly unique aluminum extrusions for its frame, an innovative leap forward in camper design evolution. 

But what is an aluminum extrusion and why does it work so well for a truck camper?

Aluminum Extrusions Defined

Aluminum, because of its ability to be shaped and formed, stands out in the world of manufacturing and design for its versatility, strength, and adaptability. With a density only one-third that of steel, aluminum’s malleability characteristics let it be easily formed, machined, cast, and extruded. Aluminum extrusions are created by forcing aluminum alloy through a die to produce specific shapes or profiles. This process lets designers, like those at Tune, create complex cross-sectional designs with a high degree of precision and consistency, from simple rods and bars to intricate structural components as in the M1 camper. The M1 incorporates an extruded aluminum frame, meaning no labor-intensive welding and a high-precision/tight constraint manufacturing process. The result: a camper that is both lightweight and strong, with the best weight-to-space ratio on the market. With no welding involved, it also assembles quickly and easily, leading to some of the fastest installation lead times on the market.

Benefits

  • Design versatility: Unlike traditional manufacturing methods that may require multiple steps and tooling changes, extrusion lets you produce complex shapes in a single operation. This versatility opens a world of possibilities for designers and engineers, letting them create innovative solutions for various industries including automotive, aerospace, construction, electronics, and now, truck campers.
  • Lightweight yet strong: Despite being lightweight (the Tune M1 boasts an industry-best weight-to-space ratio), aluminum extrusions offer exceptional strength and durability, with a high strength-to-weight ratio. This combination makes them ideal for applications where weight savings are critical without sacrificing structural integrity, such as truck campers.
  • Sustainability: Aluminum extrusions also offer environmental advantages. Aluminum is highly recyclable and can be recycled repeatedly without losing its inherent properties. This reduces the demand for primary aluminum while minimizing waste and energy consumption associated with manufacturing processes. As a result, they’re a sustainable choice for eco-conscious designers and manufacturers such as Tune Outdoor. Nearly 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today.
  • Cost savings: The aluminum extrusion process is a cost-effective way to create a wide range of custom metal shapes, in comparison to other metal manufacturing processes. And as illustrated with the Tune M1, these savings get passed onto the end consumer. Saving time and money in the manufacturing process, this simplifies production, with new shapes capable of being ordered, tooled, produced, and delivered in as little as 12 weeks.
  • Customization: While the aluminum extrusion process is simple, the range of shapes it can produce is quite complex. Aluminum extrusions can include such cost-saving features as tongue and groove, self-tapping screw slots, snap, press, and sliding fit, and more, including the infinitely customizable, universal T-track you’ll find on all Tune M1 campers (440 feet or more on the interior, exterior, and roof).
  • Dent and corrosion resistance: Aluminum extrusions’ high strength-to-weight ratio also enhances its resistance to dents as well as corrosion, without the need for additional surface treatment. Its corrosion-resistance characteristics are due to a naturally occurring, thin protective film of aluminum oxide on its surface, which helps protect it against the corrosive forces of water, road salt, temperature, and more.

The Value in Tune M1 Aluminum Extrusions

To find out why aluminum extrusions are so great for a camper like the Tune M1, we went straight to Tune Outdoor co-founder and Chief Product Officer Kristian Arnold. “They’re perfect for our application,” Arnold says. “They allow us to utilize Keder rails, composite roof panel channels, T-tracks, LED diffuser channels, screw bosses for assembly and high-end surface anodizing/protection all in one piece of material. And that just describes the functionality in one of our parts. Their beauty is that they save a tremendous amount of weight and complexity, resulting in an extremely durable and functional part of the camper. We use this methodology throughout the M1, resulting in a ton of built-in functionality at no additional cost to the consumer.”

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