In carrying out its mission of keeping American borders secure and its people safe, the U.S. Military relies on its aircraft and land vehicles to operate safely, reliably and with maximum efficacy.
Considering the size and power of its fighter planes, cargo transports, helicopters, tanks, troop carriers and more, a miniature aluminum extrusion isn’t something that comes to mind when describing the ability to keep performing under the most challenging circumstances. But the fact is that Minalex aluminum extrusions are at work every day doing their very small part (no pun intended) to keep America safe.
A fully-certified Department of Defense (DoD) provider, Minalex is the manufacturer of miniature aluminum extrusions with headquarters and production facilities located in Whitehouse, New Jersey. The fifty-year-old family-owned company supplies parts to a long list of clients in industries that includes healthcare, medical, lighting, construction and of course, the military & aerospace.
In this instance, their specific contribution to America’s military effort is in the form of what is commonly referred to as “coolant tubes” or “core tubes.” Along with cooling fins, these tubes form the major portion of radiators that help keep military engines cool and performing at top efficiency in the harshest of environments.
The core is the largest part of the radiator and provides its primary function. It consists of rows of core tubes separated by small metal fins that allow the coolant to vent heat to the air surrounding the radiator. There are many types of cores, for example, one-core, two-core or even three-core radiators, and their use depends on the type of fluid being cooled, the operating conditions and other factors.
Michael Casey, Vice President of Sales & Planning for Minalex says, “We’ve been honored to work with our supply chain partners and the military for many years, supplying the highest quality core tube extrusions for a wide range of radiators found in many different military airplanes and ground vehicles.”
To most military personnel, and civilians for that matter, these extrusions are virtually invisible to the naked eye. But, to those who work closely with engines and recognize the need for them to maintain a proper operating temperature, core tubes are a vitally important component. They can be found in coolant radiators, oil coolers, transmission coolers, intercoolers, AC condensers and other fluid/gas systems requiring heat exchange and cooling.
Extremely tight tolerances and consistency are paramount due to the coefficient of thermal expansion in aluminum, particularly on the ends of the core tubes where they are brazed to the end tanks. Aluminum is the ideal material of choice due to its management of thermal expansion and contraction as well as its optimal cooling capabilities.
Beginning with high-quality aluminum, and according to precise military specifications, Minalex produces a variety of core tubes in a range of profiles, including rectangular, rounded and many others in a variety of wall thicknesses. Matching these extremely tight tolerances during the manufacturing process is an everyday occurrence at Minalex.
Michael Casey adds, “The trend toward miniaturization and design simplicity will only continue to grow, so we fully expect the need for precision aluminum extrusion profiles to increase dramatically in the coming years.”
Depending on the shape of the profile, the company regularly produces aluminum extrusions with tolerances as tight as +/- .001″ (0.025 mm) on one or more dimensions of an extrusion, walls as thin as 0.018” (0.4572 mm) and holes as small as 0.060”. In achieving these capabilities, Minalex has been awarded a number of certifications indicative of the highest levels of operational efficiency and product quality. These include being fully certified as an AS9100D and ISO9001 company with AMS, MIL and QQ Specifications.
“Core tubes have applications in a broad range of radiators and heat exchangers,” Michael Casey concludes. “And our highly skilled crews have both the experience and expertise to achieve the extremely demanding quality standards that are required by the military and industries in the private sector.”