One of the least expected places you’d expect to find miniature aluminum extrusions manufactured by Minalex is aboard U.S. Navy nuclear submarines.
But in fact, that’s exactly where they are – on board many different types of submersible navy vessels, including the aforementioned nuclear submarines. And they serve a generally obscure, but highly important purpose.
Remember that on submarines, some of which can dive thousands of feet, there are no windows. So, artificial illumination, and lots of it, is an absolute necessity in order for submariners to keep an incredibly complex navy vessel like a submarine operating at maximum levels of efficiency and power.
Room on a submarine is equally valued as well, so sleeping quarters are necessarily cramped and, without the proper illumination, very dark. Bunks can be stacked above each other, often as much as three high. Of the space that is available, little is afforded to each sailor. A simple curtain is generally all that provides privacy, and a small locker or drop-down shelf is all that a submariner has for storage. Consequently, the same space problem exists for providing the precisely-positioned lighting sailors need to “navigate” their confined sleeping quarters.
Minalex extrusions are helping solve these problems of space and light by manufacturing extrude-to-fit aluminum channels, through which LED illumination strips are fed. One of the most important advantages: they take up virtually no space.
Measuring just 1.1” in height and 1.4” in width, with walls as thin as 0.05”, the profile of these highly compact extrusions is nearly unnoticeable when installed, while retaining exceptionally high durability for the crew.
On one end is a rounded opening with inner-angled protrusions which securely house the LED lighting electronics as well as a translucent diffusing component to spread and balance the light. On the opposite side is a series of notches, curves, and an open inner cavity which allows the extrusion to mount properly in its final-use location, creating a fully-shaped and ready-to-use part directly from the extruding process.
Once the final manufacturing assembly is complete, these Minalex aluminum extrusions are mounted above the submarine bunks and are largely hidden and unnoticeable, except for the effective amount of LED light they generate.