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Winter  2001

Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition 
                    Searches for New Ideas

by Rand Baldwin

Do you remember getting your first personal computer? The advent of the PC brought with it the promise of unbounded growth in personal and professional efficiency and productivity. Did you ever wonder who designed these amazing 21st-century tools?

AEC Design Competition
It is in this context that the Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) is preparing to celebrate the miracle of thought through its 2002 Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition. In this competition, we celebrate the most basic of human products—the idea!

Two years ago, AEC began a search for new ideas in the design and use of aluminum extrusions. Fifty-eight entrants responded with new ideas in the design of buildings, the manufacture of office furniture and commercial products and a host of other manufactured items. Among the most interesting entries were those in the leisure category, like the sleek, all-aluminum razor scooter and the ultra-light yet super-strong bicycle frame. 

The grand prize winner, from Aluma-Strut Systems in San Antonio, showed these qualities and more, illustrating extruded aluminum beams as a practical and affordable approach to construction framing (see below for related article)

Where is the next generation of new ideas that will offer fresh promises and create new markets? Do you have a new idea? If it involves aluminum, and extruded aluminum in particular, the AEC wants to hear about it. The competition is open to professional designers, specifiers, extruders and fabricators, as well as to students (who compete only against other students). There is prize money at stake, but there is much more—the chance to show the world a new way of thinking, of doing, of living. Ideas are what drive our industry. 

The 2002 AEC Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition is accepting entries now until February 2002. For details check out our website at www.aec.org.

Rand Baldwin serves as president of the Aluminum Extruders Council. 


Extruded Aluminum
An Alternative to Traditional Construction Framing

While judges of the 2000 AEC Design Competition were looking for new approaches to aluminum, they found a winner in Aluma-Strut Systems of San Antonio. The company won first prize for its use of extruded-aluminum beams as a practical and affordable approach to construction framing.

So, what is so unique about extruded aluminum? “It goes up very quickly,” said Ronald Trafton, Aluma-Strut president, “and there’s not a building code around that we can’t meet or exceed.”

As an example, Trafton spoke of a 1,188-square-foot Habitat for Humanity house recently built in Richmond, Va. “In six hours the frame was up,” he said.

While Trafton said he couldn’t speculate on exactly how long it would take to erect a frame using another material, such as wood, he did say, “it would definitely take longer.”

While one of the unique benefits of aluminum framing is its quick installation time, Trafton said there are other benefits as well, one of which is increased energy efficiency. One homeowner turned to Aluma-Strut after his home burnt down. “The customer told us he saved more than $100 per month in heating bills,” Trafton said.

Homeowners who use the Aluma-Strut system can save money in other ways as well, including on fire insurance, because aluminum framing does not burn.

Aluma-Strut has been in existence since 1994 and while the company has had much success with its products in the United States, Trafton said the product is starting to take off in Europe as well.


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