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Winners of the 2018 Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition Highlight the Advantages of Extrusions

The Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) and the ET Foundation announced the winners of the 2018 Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition at the Extrusion Design University (EDU ’18) event held May 15-17 in Chicago, Illinois. A total of seven extrusion designs that showcased the versatility and advantages of products using aluminum extrusions were recognized with a total of $14,000 in student scholarships and cash awards.

The Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition, which was sponsored by Bonnell Aluminum, is divided into two classes, Student and Professional. The competition received 72 entries — 58 student entries from 16 schools, including design/technical schools, universities, and high schools from seven different countries and 14 professional entries from nine different countries.

Judging of the entries was performed by David Asher, process optimization manager for Bonnell Aluminum; Dr. Joseph Benedyk, editor of Light Metal Age magazine and aluminum industry veteran; and Todd Boyer, director of Sales & Marketing for Mid-States Aluminum.

Grand Prize

The Grand Prize of $3,500 was awarded to Micaela Morris, director of Business Operations at Roll-a-Cover International, for the company’s customizable retractable glass enclosures. Manufactured of 6061 T-6 multi-hollow aluminum extrusions, the enclosures can be configured for both residential areas and commercial spaces (such as restaurants and bars, hotels, museums, convention centers, educational institutions, etc.) in order to provide a creative solution to making outdoor areas usable year round. On sunny days, the Roll-A-Cover enclosure system can be opened manually or via a motorized system, and closed during inclement weather to continue to make the space usable and revenue-generating. Since enclosures are made with heavy-duty extruded aluminum, wind and snow load requirements can be met for any climate.

The Grand Prize winning Roll-A-Cover can be used to open up or cover outdoor seating areas year round.
A Roll-A-Cover system installed on a swimming pool, showing it both open and closed.

“While we do serve the residential marketplace by enclosing pools, hot tubs, swim spas, and patios, our largest market is the commercial sector where their return on investment can be quantified,” said Micaela Morris.”We are able to create unique, custom designs for our customers due to the use of aluminum extrusion as well as its ease of fabrication and installation.”

The aluminum sections are pre-assembled into panels and wall sections in the manufacturing plant then delivered to the job site. The use of extrusions enables quick and easy installation, with the enclosure sections being joined using 6061 or 7075 aluminum gussets. In addition to reducing cost by minimizing installation time, the extrusions are highly structural and lightweight compared to steel, allowing the company a high degree of flexibility in order to modify and customize the design and color of each enclosure system in order to meet the needs of individual clients.

“Aluminum extrusion’s light weight is a major advantage for this design,” said Benedyk. “Plus, because aluminum doesn’t rust, there are reduced maintenance costs and the enclosures will look beautiful and last for a long time, likely lowering the total cost of ownership versus steel when the costs of materials, shipping, and installation are considered.”

Michael Morris, founder, president, and CEO of Roll-A-Cover, attended the EDU ’18 event with his daughter Micaela Morris. He noted that Roll-A-Cover has seen tremendous growth in demand for their award-winning motorized retractable enclosure systems. “Since I started this business 20 years ago, the infatuation with rooftop restaurants and bars has grown exponentially,” said Mike Morris, “Every hospitality establishment looks for the ‘wow factor’ when thinking about what will attract guests. Our motorized rooftop enclosures can offer their guests the views and rooftop setting year-round, without concern for the weather.” Both father and daughter were thrilled to receive the award on behalf of the entire Roll-A-Cover team.

grand prize
Micaela Morris (center), director of Business Operations at Roll-a-Cover International, received the Grand Prize award from Jeff Henderson (left), president of the Aluminum Extruders Council, and Jason Pickering, vice president of Operations at Bonnell Aluminum.

Professional Class – Transportation Category

Michael van der Bent from Schiedam, The Netherlands, won in the Transportation Category for the Professional Class, earning a $2,000 cash award for his Curvetrike design.

The Curvetrike is an extreme curving tricycle that uses curving motion to create a forward momentum for downhill and off road riding, as well as racing. The chassis is comprised of one extruded aluminum profile that provides structural stiffness and a closed storage location for the battery. A mounting groove on the profile provides flexibility in the ergonomic design so that it can be adapted to the user, creating a variable structure.

The two axis of the handles are connected underneath the user by a double-angled gear, and both back wheels have electro motors connected to the axis to provide propulsion. The electric motors are charged in the curving motion and then stored in the battery for incline-assist propulsion. A mounting groove on the profile provides flexibility in the ergonomic design so that it can be adapted to the user, creating an infinitely variable structure. For safety, the design includes chair side supports to ensure the driver remains seated during the curving motion.

The judges selected the Curvetrike design because it was an innovative adaptation of similar manually propelled trikes, capturing the self-generated energy in a battery to be reclaimed via the electro motors to provide power assist on inclines.

The Curvetrike won in the Transportation Category for the Professional Class.
Close up of the extruded profile used in the Curvetrike.

Student Class

In the Student Class, five students were recognized for their extruded aluminum designs.

First Place

Sydney Smith, an Industrial Design student at Purdue University, received the First Place award with a scholarship of $3,000 for her N-Former outdoor informational box design. N-Former is an electronic informational sign for outdoor areas such as public parks and natural areas and includes the use of aluminum extrusion in the base and height-adjustable post. The box incorporates touchscreen technology, WiFi connectivity, and solar panels to provide an interactive experience for nature enthusiasts.

The student used aluminum extrusion for this design because of its functionality and resistance to corrosion, making it an ideal material for the outdoor application. “Extrusion allows for height adjustments not found in most interactive signs,” noted Smith.

“Extruded aluminum is perfect for this design and improves on designs already out there,” said Asher. “She hit all of the major attributes of aluminum and extrusion: corrosion resistant, light weight, easy to produce, and durable. By adding a solar panel for power and a height-adjustable feature, the informational box design provides an improved interactive experience.”

N-Former electronic informational sign
The N-Former electronic informational sign won First Place in the Student Class.
N-Former electronic informational sign
Aluminum extrusions are used as components in the N-Former electronic informational sign.

Second Place

Second Place with a $2,000 scholarship was awarded to Tessa Barnes, a sophomore studying Industrial Design at Southern Illinois University, IL, for her Extension prosthetic device for musicians. Extension is a lightweight and portable prosthetic designed for someone missing a portion of their arm in order to hold a brass instrument, according to the student. The use of extrusion allows for design flexibility and light weight, making it easily portable. “Prosthetic devices exist for instruments such as drums and strings but the prosthetics currently on the market for brass instruments are merely stands that keep the instrument stationary and can only be used indoors,” noted Barnes in her entry.

“This is a clever and effective use of aluminum extrusion,” said Boyer. “The student incorporates hinge joints in the design, which work great in this application. And, the design accommodates different size arms with its adjustable straps making it useful to a variety of physically challenged people.”

Extension, a prosthetic device for musicians
Second Place was awarded for Extension, a prosthetic device for musicians.

Third Place

Bheumsoo “Kyle” Kim, an Industrial Design student from Purdue University, received the Third Place award with a $1,000 scholarship for his Foldo folding wheel barrow. While there are currently foldable wheel barrows currently on the market, they are made with a steel frame. The Foldo is a new design concept that uses aluminum extruded parts with built-in folding components to create a wheel barrow that allows for portability and easy storage.

“This foldable wheel barrow design improves on designs already in the market,” said Benedyk. “The student could have used more extruded aluminum by designing shapes that take better advantage of geometry to increase strength in the profiles. I would have liked to see the handle and the hinges made of extruded aluminum, as well.”

Foldo folding wheel barrow
Third Places was presented for the Foldo folding wheel barrow.

Sustainable Design Award

The Sustainable Design Award winner was Jon Beldner, a sophomore from Purdue University, who received a $2,500 scholarship for his Blade home aquaponics system. “Aquaponics systems are a well-proven, eco-friendly method for growing plants by suspending them over an aquarium” explained Beldner. “They require no fertilizer or pesticides and create a healthy environment for both the plants and fish. Although there are systems on the market, they do not cater to the amateur user.”

The judges appreciated the design that uses aluminum extrusion to create a system that is more user-friendly with built-in grip areas in the extrusion profile for easy removal of the grow bed and the pivoting grow light.

Blade home aquaponics system
The Blade home aquaponics system was the winner of the Sustainable Design Award.
Blade home aquaponics system
The use of aluminum extrusions in the Blade system is ideal due to their high corrosion resistance.

Honorable Mention

This year, the judges decided to create an additional award for a high school student’s noteworthy extruded aluminum design. Emma Jacobs, a senior from Sherwood High School in Oregon, was recognized with an Honorable Mention and a $500 scholarship for her Alum Shoe design. The Alum Shoe is an aluminum track that can be fitted with a rubber pad, which has a wide range of applications — from automated minesweeping vehicles that clear land in conflict zones to “Snowcats” for mountain rescue missions. “All aluminum parts of the Alum Shoe are extrudable with limited post machining,” suggested Jacobs, who added that the design of the Alum Shoe can be easily modified to make industrial transport belts.

“Although the extruded profile is a bit over-engineered and would be costly to extrude, the concept is solid,” said Boyer. “The flexibility of the track length is a great feature; it can be configured to just about any size.”

Asher added, “She really did her homework on this and exploited many of aluminum extrusions’ characteristics in her design: ease of assembly, configurable design, incorporating features to reduce fabrication.”

Alum Shoe — an aluminum track
An Honorable Mention was awarded for the Alum Shoe — an aluminum track with a rubber pad that can be used for a wide range of applications.

Editor’s Note: Information about the 2019 Extrusion Design Competition, which will be open only to students, will be announced late this summer. 

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