How much does it cost to cnc aluminum by custom cnc machining?

Mosi Li
Mosi Li

Director Project Engineer at 3Q Machining - China top CNC Machining Custom Part Manufacturer

How Much Do You Know About CNC Aluminum

What is CNC MACHINING

For CNC machining projects, aluminum is one of the most popular material choices due to its desirable physical properties. It is strong, which makes it ideal for mechanical parts, and its oxidized outer layer is resistant to corrosion from the elements. These benefits have made aluminum parts common across all industries, though they are particularly favored in the automotive, aerospace, healthcare and consumer electronics spheres.

Aluminum also offers specific advantages that simplify and improve the process of CNC machining. Unlike many other metals with similar material properties, aluminum offers excellent machinability: many of its grades can be effectively penetrated by cutting tools, chipping easily while being relatively easy to shape. Because of this, aluminum can be machined more than three times faster than iron or steel.

Benefits of aluminum CNC machining

aluminum cnc machining 01

Machinability

One of the main reasons why engineers choose aluminum for their machined parts is because, quite simply, the material is easy to machine. While this would appear to be more of a benefit for the machinist manufacturing the part, it also has significant benefits for the business ordering the part, as well as the end-user that will eventually use it.

Because aluminum chips easily, and because it is easy to shape, it can be cut quickly and accurately with CNC machine tools. This has some important consequences: firstly, the short timeframe of the machining job makes the process cheaper (because less labor is required from the machinist and less operating time is required from the machine itself); secondly, good machinability means less deformation of the part as the cutting tool goes through the workpiece. This can allow the machine to meet tighter tolerances (as low as ±0.025 mm) and leads to higher accuracy and repeatability.

Corrosion resistance

Different aluminum grades differ greatly in their resistance to corrosion — the degree to which they can withstand oxidization and chemical damage. Fortunately, some of the most popular grades for CNC machining are the most resistant. 6061, for example, offers excellent corrosion resistance, as do other alloys on the lower end of the strength spectrum. (Strong aluminum alloys may be less resistant to corrosion due to the presence of alloyed copper.)

Strength-to-weight ratio

Aluminum has desirable physical properties that make it ideal for both mechanical and aspect parts. Two of the most important are the metal’s high strength and its lightweight, both of which make the material favorable for critical parts such as those required in the aerospace and automotive industries. Aircraft fittings and automotive shafts are two examples of parts that can be successfully machined with aluminum.

However, different grades of aluminum serve different purposes. Because of their favorable strength-to-weight ratio, general-use grades like 6061 can be used for a wide variety of parts, while notably high-strength grades like 7075 may be preferred in aerospace and marine applications.

Electrical conductivity

CNC machined aluminum parts can be useful for electrical components due to their electrical conductivity. Though not as conductive as copper, pure aluminum has an electrical conductivity of about 37.7 million siemens per meter at room temperature. Alloys may have lower conductivities, but aluminum materials are significantly more conductive than, for example, stainless steel.

Material

Conductivity (S/m) at room temperature

Copper

59.6 million

Aluminum

37.7 million

Zinc

16.9 million

Iron

10 million

Carbon steel

7 million

Titanium

2.4 million

Stainless steel

1.5 million

Anodization potential

Machined aluminum parts are especially popular in the consumer electronics industry, not just for strength and weight demands, but because of important aesthetic considerations. As well as being receptive to paints and tints, aluminum can be treated with anodization, a surface finishing procedure that thickens the protective and oxidized outer layer of the part.

The anodization process, which generally takes place after machining is completed, involves passing an electric current through the part in an electrolytic acid bath and results in a piece of aluminum that is more resistant to physical impact and corrosion.

Importantly, anodizing makes it easier to add color to a machined aluminum part, since the anodized outer layer is highly porous. Dyes can find their way through the porous sections of the outer layer and are less likely to chip or flake since they are embedded within the tough exterior of the metal part.

Recyclability

Another benefit of aluminum is its high recyclability, which makes it preferable for businesses seeking to minimize their environmental impact or for those who simply want to reduce material wastage and recoup some of their expenditure. Recyclable materials are particularly important in CNC machining, where there is a relatively large amount of waste material in the form of chips from the cutting tool.

How much does it cost to cnc machining aluminum?

  1. Raw material cost: it’s the base cost what we need to calculate for cnc machining
  2. Machining Complexity: the main cost of cnc aluminum machining part, complexity grade would decide what machinery and processes we need to choose, and the machining timing, these two elements would decide the cost of cnc machining aluminum also other materials.
  3. Packaging: different packaging has different cost, it depends on the product sales needs and transportation protection needs.
  4. Quantities: of course bigger volume would have cheaper cost to machining aluminum part.
  5. Timing; Payment Term would also affect the cnc aluminum cost.

What Aluminum grade should be best suitable for your project?

Aluminum 6061:This grade is mainly contains magnesium and silicon, so it concentrates the advantages of the aluminum of 4000 series and 5000 Series,6061 is a cold-treated aluminium forging product, which is suitable for applications requiring high corrosion resistance and oxidation resistance. It has good usability, easy coating and good workability.

Aluminum 5052:The main characteristics are low density, high tensile strength and high elongation.It can be easily drawn or formed into intricate shapes,Suitable for bending and welding.

Aluminum 7075:This is commonly known as “super hard aluminium”,one of the highest strength aluminum alloys.Good mechanical properties and anodize reaction,but it is not weldable and has limited resistance to corrosion ,it is ideally used for highly stressed parts,, representative uses are aerospace, die processing, mechanical equipment, tooling fixtures, especially for manufacturing. Aircraft structures and other high-stress structures requiring high strength.

Aluminum 2024:The characteristics of aluminium2024 ishigh hardness,also the content of copper is the highest, about 3-5%. 2024 series aluminium barmost common used for Aviation material, which is not often used in conventional industry at present.

Aluminum 6063:Commonly known as an architectural alloy. It is suitable for all kinds of industrial structural parts with high strength and corrosion resistance, such as trucks, tower buildings, ships, trams, railway vehicles, furniture, machinery parts, precision die manufacturing, electronic parts and precision instruments, SMT, PC board soldering tin carrier electronics, etc.

The Production Processes of Aluminum CNC Machining

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Aluminum CNC Machining Questions & Answers

Plastic: ABS, PC, ABS+PC, PP, PS, POM, PMMA (Acrylic), PAGF30, PCGF30, Teflon, DHPE, HDPE, PPS, PEEK. 

Metal: Aluminum, Steel, Stainless Steel (17-4, Inconel 625 & 718), Magnesium, Titanium, Zinc, Brass, Bronze, Copper. 

These are the most common materials for CNC prototyping and production parts. Besides that, we can work with any type of machinable plastic and metal we can purchase from the stock market. 

What’s more: We are able to create a custom plastic block or bar for the material such as PA GF50, PPS GF50. To discover further plastic materials we can do, please contact our team.

CNC machining starts with a computer, on which designers prepare a part using CAD (Computer-aided Design) software. This digital part is then converted into a format that can be recognized by a CNC machine.

Instructions are sent to the CNC machine in the form of  “G-Code” after which the machine can start cutting.

Most CNC machines have a “worktable” and work holding device to keep a block of material — known as the “workpiece” — in place. The worktable may or may not move, depending on the style of the machine.

When machining starts, the cutting tool makes contact with the workpiece, cutting away layers of material. The tool and/or workpiece is moved and/or rapidly rotated according to the G-Code instructions so that cuts are made in exactly the right places until the part is finished.

CNC machining is a fast, accurate and versatile solution for making end-use plastic and metal parts in any quantity, without the need for investing in hard tooling or expensive set-ups. No matter how simple or complex the parts.

Color: Pantone Number

Logo: AI

Drawing: DWG/STP/IGS/SOLIDWORKS etc.

Sample lead time: 7days

Tooling lead time: 35 days

Production lead time: 7~30days

Usually we book the shipment with your appointed forwarder, or can ship to your warehouse with our shipment company

We also working with DHL/FEDEX/UPS for  long term relationship to have competitive express shipment with fast delivery.

As-Machined: The most popular and cost efficient way for inner functional components. Fine and even tool path is also good for aspect parts.

Bead Blasted: The part is left with a matt appearance. Range of 120 to 320 beads allows us to create different roughness to the surface.

Anodized: Type II creates a corrosion-resistant finish. Parts can be anodized in different colors—clear, black, red, and blue are most common—and is usually associated with low silicone element series of aluminum. Type III is thicker and creates a wear-resistant layer in addition to the corrosion resistance seen with Type II.

Powder Coat: This is a process where powdered paint is sprayed onto a part which is then baked in an oven. This creates a strong, wear- and corrosion-resistant layer that is more durable than standard painting methods. A wide variety of colors are available to create the desired aesthetic.

CNC machines include CNC mills, CNC turning machines (or lathes), CNC routers, and Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) machines.

CNC mills have rotating cutting tools that are moved to different areas of the workpiece to make cuts and can be used to make many different pats. CNC lathes work the other way, rotating the workpiece against a stationary cutting tool, and are used to make cylindrical parts.

CNC routers are similar to CNC mills, but have less power and cannot cut the hardest materials. They can, however, be faster than CNC mills.

EDM uses electrical discharges (sparks) instead of a sharp cutting tool to cut material. No physical contact is made between the tool and the workpiece.

CNC machines are often defined by their number of axes. More axes mean they can move their tool and/or workpiece in a greater number of ways, giving greater cutting flexibility and the ability to make more complex parts in a shorter time.

3Q Machining is known as one of the best CNC machining companies in China in terms of quality, speed, and customer service. With high-quality CNC machines, we can easily achieve +/- 0.02mm of tolerance and can even get within +/- 0.01mm. But keep in mind that it can have an impact on the cost.

MOQ: From 1 piece to ~3000pcs each color each part

Sample payment: 100%

Tooling payment:50% deposit, 50% balance after sample approval

Product order payment: T/T 30% deposit, 70% after pre-shipment inspection

It’s no problem to arrange third party inspection before shipment, please book the inspection date 7 days in advance

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