Before exploring the topic of aluminum shelves, let us consider first the human condition. It has often been noted that the basic minimum subsistence requirements for biological survival consist of water, food, and shelter. Along the same lines, human civilization requires, at a minimum, these three things: a source of energy, labor-saving machinery, and an instinct for organization. At the dawn of history, the first two needs were met by the invention, respectively, of fire and the wheel. It could be argued that the third need was met by the invention of—shelving.
Shelves: From Stone Age to Bronze Age—and Beyond
Nowadays, whenever anyone utters the word “shelf,” typically the first image that springs to mind is a bookshelf.
Before getting too far into our brief survey of T-nuts, it’s important to make a distinction between fasteners and connectors. The English majors amongst us might consider those two words to be nearly synonymous. In the realm of T-slot aluminum, however, each denotes a very specific set of accessories with well-defined applications.
T-slot aluminum profiles come in a variety shapes, lengths, and measurement systems (either metric or inch). Because of the modular nature of extruded T-slot aluminum, there’s no need to clamp, weld, or glue the various pieces when assembling. Instead, you use connectors of various types to put your profiles together at just the right angle and ensure the final fabrication is strong and stable. These connectors run the gamut, from quick connectors and tilt connectors to gussets, corner brackets, connection plates, and more.
Fasteners, on the other hand, are chiefly used to fasten, or attach, specialty accessories to the finished T-slot fabrication. The accessories may include cable blocks, conveyor rollers, locking handles, doors, side panels, machining jigs, and much more. Among these fasteners are various types of nuts, including the following.
Past users of Framing Tech’s aluminum T-slot extrusions are already familiar with their myriad features and advantages: strength, durability, stability, corrosion-resistance, and ease of assembly are just the tip of the iceberg. Whether custom-designed or out-of-the-box fabrications, they are practically perfect for their designated application. But there is always room for improvement. So how do you improve on perfection? With Framing Tech’s T-slot accessories, of course! Here is an overview of our most popular ones.
Every year in the United States (and around the world, for that matter) vast quantities of material, organic and inorganic, are mined, caught, grown, stored, transported, processed, packaged, shipped, warehoused, shipped again, shelved, and eventually sold to the retail buyer who has a need for that product. It is a constantly moving stream requiring physical equipment designed to facilitate the flow of that material through its life cycle, including carts, trucks, workstations, assembly lines, packaging machines, and of course old fashioned human lift-and-carry labor. But there is one other item that should be included in that list—because it is so simple and common as to be invisible, and yet ingenious—and that is the manufacturing flow rack.
Although they are most often found in factory settings, conveyor products (both the device and the things conveyed) have become an integral and familiar component in a great many automated facilities that we encounter on a regular basis. As far back as when we were children, who has not been fascinated by the clever yet simple brilliance of the grocery store’s checkout counter conveyor belt? And what grade-schooler has not understood intuitively the vast labor-saving aspect of that most iconic of commercial conveyor inventions—Henry Ford’s automobile assembly line?
At present, Framing Tech offers three basic conveyor product design models (more on those in a moment). Before discussing those, however, we believe it would be helpful to prospective customers to understand what factors to consider when shopping for any conveyor product.
Working safely may get old—
but so do those who practice it.
The top two considerations in the design of Framing Tech’s selection of aluminum enclosures are practicality and safety. In both industrial and laboratory environments, these enclosures are practical for a number of reasons, all related to their base construction with aluminum. The basic properties of aluminum make this metal an excellent choice for numerous applications in factories and labs: it is lightweight, strong, and durable, with high thermal conductivity and excellent corrosion-resistance. It is highly malleable, and can be easily cast, machined, and formed. It is also non-magnetic and non-sparking.
By definition, an enclosure is any structure that holds a person or thing inside, or keeps a person or thing from entering. It follows, then, that the primary purpose of such a structure in an industrial or laboratory environment is to ensure the physical safety of the person or thing either outside the structure or inside. One could consider this purpose, therefore, as not just practical but downright critical.
500,000 years ago in southern Africa, primitive Homo sapiens first bound stone blades to wooden spears, creating the spearpoint. Spearpoints were revolutionary as weaponry, and as the first “composite tools”—combining components.
Last November we wrote about the ways fasteners and other Framing Tech accessories can enhance your extruded aluminum creations. For December, we’ll end the year by focusing specifically on one key category of accessory, namely, aluminum connectors. This particular type of component allows you to take full advantage of the inherently modular nature of extruded aluminum profiles, and makes it possible to create a wide range of sturdy, customized fabrications, from workbenches and aquarium stands to book shelves and industrial machine guards—and whatever else your imagination can conceive of.
Whether you’re working on a full structural or modular aluminum framing project or a more simple task, Framing Tech has the pieces you need to build a complete and economical solution.
Our extruded aluminum T-slot framing (metric profiles and inch profiles) come in all shapes and sizes. Yet these aluminum extrusions can’t just assemble themselves. Specialty fasteners, connectors, and other accessories are needed to attach one piece solidly to another to create a stable structure. And still other accessories extend the practical utility of your fabrications, and even add aesthetic value to what you build.
Here is an overview of those specialty fasteners and other accessories.
Framing Tech’s modular aluminum extrusions are used extensively in various settings—from large industrial complexes to in-house ateliers to private homes. The framed fabrications, which are lightweight, sturdy, and rust-resistant, are made up of extruded aluminum profiles of various lengths (metric or inch), with a variety of connectors and fasteners to hold the components together. Accessories of all types, such as doors, panels, and frame-to-floor leveling feet, can be added as needed. The easy-to-install and alter-as-needed profiles require very few tools for assembly. One might even think of them as resilient Legos for grownups with tasks to tackle!
“Play opens up the imagination, which
then opens up new possibilities.”
— Alfred Carlton Gilbert
Those lines are uttered by actor Jason Alexander playing inventor, magician, and toy maker A.C. Gilbert in the 2008 biographical film The Man Who Saved Christmas. You can preview the film in this trailer:
Visitors to our blog, of a certain age, will probably recall with great nostalgia what is surely Gilbert’s most famous invention and one of the most popular playthings of their childhood, namely, the inimitable Erector Set. Produced by the A.C. Gilbert Company, “Erector Set” was a brand of metal toy construction kits first patented in 1913. Basic Erector Set parts included various sizes of flat beams, made with real steel, with regularly spaced holes for assembly using nuts and bolts, and room for additional parts and accessories, including little electric motors. The only limit was your imagination.