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Why do Aluminum Ladders have various brush finishes?

July 28, 2012

Q. Aluminum ladders and related hardware are often finished with various line patterns scratched into the surface. These lines typically run along the length of each piece of aluminum.

Why do manufacturers apply this type of finish to extruded aluminum? Is it to hide smudges and fingerprints? Is it to create a surface that is rougher and easier to grasp or maintain a foothold upon? Is it to provide a manufacturer with a subtle identifier on products so that they can differentiate products made by themselves from competitors? Do some manufacturers have line patterns that are proprietary? AND do you have any suggestions about methods for achieving this effect using standard extruded aluminum if I decide to use it?

I think that should be enough questions for one post. Oh, and just FYI -- I have thrown myself into the world of aluminum within the past month. Prior to this I haven't worked with fabricating or producing any aluminum products so I hope you'll forgive my relative ignorance. Thanks.

Dan Hereford
Trying to Make Sense of the Finishing Industry! - Beavercreek, Ohio, USA

July 31, 2012

A. Hi Dan,

Lines running the length of an extruded aluminum part are caused by defects in the die through which the parts are extruded, specifically small rough spots in the die which drag on the surface. You can't really get the full effect of this without using lower quality dies, but a passable imitation can be made using a wire wheel and lots of time.

Ladders usually are built to the lowest price point, thus why you'll see so many with the extrusion lines in their steps, while extruded aluminum framing like they use to build temporary jigs and fixtures in the auto industry need to be more precise and are expected to have a certain surface finish, thus these have smooth, even finishes.



Stuart Grant
- Mt Clemens, Michigan, USA

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