Aluminum Extrusion has become the gold standard for sim racing rigs for its versatility and stiffness. Although it's not the prettiest material its functionality out weighs how it looks. Hardware is constantly being upgraded and its nice to have a rig that can keep up without significant modifications.
Depending on where you are in the world there are many sizes of aluminum extrusions. Nobody really explains this but its not very intuitive until you've done quiet a bit of research on how to build a rig with aluminum extrusion. The series number signifies the dimensions but it doesn't give you the unit or the decimal place. Here I will attempt to clarify this by using common sizes used for racing rigs.
15 Series (1.5X1.5in Square) is a common size in North America since it is in imperial. Like all other aluminum extrusion it also comes in multiples of 1.5in sizes, like 1.5x3.0in and 1.5x4.5in.
Here is where things get a bit confusing. The rest of the world does not really use 15 (or 1.5in) Series because it is a imperial size, they rather use metric. The rest of the world uses 40 series. NO, 40 series does not mean 4.0X4.0in, it actually mean 40x40mm. Another common size for racing rigs is 25 series which is 25x25mm. Not only does the "series number" not use the same units but it also doesn't signify the decimal place. So next time when someone gives you a series number stop and think about what the size actually is.
So here it is in summary.
- 15 Series, 1.5x1.5in, 1.5x3.0in, 1.5x4.5in etc.
- 10 Series, 1.0x1.0in, 1.0x2.0in, 1.0x3.0in etc.
Rest of the World
- 40 Series, 40x40mm, 40x80mm, 40x120mm etc.
- 25 Series, 25x25mm, 25x50mm, 25x75mm etc.
- 20 Series, 20x20mm, 20x40mm, 20x60mm etc.
I hope that helps. This actually confused us a lot during the design process. We try to make variations of racing rigs using different aluminum extrusion series to appeal to everyone in the world.
Now for the fun part. How to get this stuff for cheap. In North America this stuff can be quiet expensive. I don't know why if its because of competition or aluminum is really expensive to ship to here. We North Americans really only have 2 dealers here, Faztek and 8020 Inc. and this stuff is expensive to ship so its not economical to get it shipped from Asia. Europeans on the other hand have Motedis, which is super cheap, and Australians have AME System.
For Americans aluminum extrusion can be very cheap if you have access to ebay.com. http://stores.ebay.com/8020-Inc-Garage-Sale
They sell lots of cutoffs at a very affordable price as long as you're willing to cut it to the right length yourself using and aluminum blade. The catch is the the aluminum corner angles. That you have buy at nearly full price even on ebay.
A good rule of thumb is for every $1 spent on aluminum extrusion, $1 will be spent on corner brakets, nuts and bolts. There are so many times I see on forums and people say they can get something built for $300 of aluminum extrusion, aluminum extrusion rig dealers are totally ripping people off and they totally disregard the cost of corner brackets. Surprisingly corner brackets are super expensive and sometimes I think their model is like Gillette, buy the razer handle for cheap but the real money is made with the razer replacements. Check out our "standard hardware" section, these parts are sourced from Asian suppliers. You will find our prices are roughly half the price of 8020.
If you can do me a favor. Never buy nuts and bolts from aluminum extrusion dealers. The quotes I've gotten are completely insane, easily x3 the price. If you want to spend that kind of money, go to your local nut and bolt store and buy stainless steel bolts.
For us Canadians, getting aluminum extrusion is quiet expensive if you're not willing to cross the border. Fortunately there are services at the border that can bring it over, but do the math to find out if you're actually saving money. I won't go into this in too much detail but if you're in the Toronto area look for Chit Chat Express, if you're in Alberta look for DYK Post and if you're in the Vancouver area look for Books to Border. These companies are willing to bring stuff over the border for you if you're willing to ship to their US destination and your willing to pay a small fee.
This is one of the reasons why OSR doesn't want to supply you aluminum extrusion. It varies so much from country to country and if you're willing to put in some work you can get it for fairly cheap without having us to double handle it and charge for shipping it to us and then to you. Our value is added in coming up with better designs, not in handling aluminum extrusion!
I hope this article clarifies some things about aluminum extrusion and takes down some barriers for building with aluminum extrusion. I hope you see your builds on some forums!