Posts Tagged: Aluminum

Essential Tips for Machining Aluminum Components

Machining AluminumCommon complaints among people new to machining Aluminum alloys include poor surface finish, gummy deposits on cut faces or tool edges, and a smeared appearance. All materials have different properties that require adjustments and care to achieve the optimal finishes.

Aluminum is a soft and ductile metal that has high thermal conductivity. The former means it cuts easily but creates long chips. The latter means it is susceptible to heat build-up. Following these tips when machining aluminum can help mitigate both these concerns.

Use the Right Cutting Tool

Although aluminum is soft and ductile, it requires a good cutting tool for best results. Don’t use high-speed steel or cobalt tools for this job; use carbide cutting tools instead. Also, it is sometimes better to use a tool with fewer flutes. Since Aluminum produces long chips, a tool with fewer flutes will allow chips to escape more easily. Using the right tool with the correct number of flutes will allow you to employ a broader range of spindle speeds.

Keep it Cool

As mentioned above, aluminum has a high thermal conductivity. It gets hot when cut, and that heat can build up fast. This, in turn, can result in a finish with a smeared appearance, workpiece warpage, and leading edge build up (that gummy problem). Proper coolant flow will move chips away from the cutting zone and keep the cutting surfaces properly lubricated.

Horsepower is Your Friend

While aluminum may be softer than other metals, it is still a metal and machining it requires a great deal of power. If your machine can’t keep up with the power requirements for a cut, it will result in chatter and deflection. It may be necessary to use horsepower “derating” in feed and speed calculations when using smaller, lightweight machines for aluminum milling.

A Note on Chip Management

Aluminum’s high ductility results in long unbroken chips that can quickly build up around a tool. This can cause tool breakage, leading edge buildup (more gummy problems) and heat buildup (that smeared finish). When cutting aluminum, be vigilant about cleaning chips. Whether it is with a fixed air blast system, high coolant flow rates or chip conveyors, chip removal should be integrated into your process.

Aluminum is ductile, lightweight, thermally, and electrically conductive with excellent strength characteristics. With a few adjustments to machining techniques, it can be a great material for many parts and projects.

What a CNC Mill Turn a Block of Aluminum Into a Cylinder Head

What a CNC Mill Turn a Block of Aluminum Into a Cylinder HeadCNC machines are the industrial sculptors of the modern era. There’s something downright mesmerizing about watching a CNC mill transform a blank piece of material into a complex piece of functional equipment.

Take the video below, for example, where a massive 5-axis CNC machine effortlessly mills a cylinder head out of a solid block of aluminum.

It’s a powerful tool with a light touch, shaving of fractions of a centimeter at a time to achieve a degree of precision that human machinists can only dream of. Thanks to the machine’s 5-axis design, the cutting tool is able to approach the raw material from just about any angle. In just under three minutes, you can watch a hunk of metal become the heart of an internal combustion engine.

At CNC Masters, we’ve been offering powerful CNC machines at remarkably low prices for nearly 30 years. We’re committed to helping machinists harness the power of CNC machinery at a price they can afford. Give us a call today to learn more, and check out the video below to see an industrial CNC mill in action!