Yes, aluminum is easy to machine. In fact, it is machinable with all types of cutting tools and can be cut with precision.
The material is soft enough that it can be cut without the need for a power source, this makes it a great material for small parts or manufacturing jobs that require a lot of manual labor.
Aluminum is also the most common and most popular metal material for CNC Machining, because it is an abundant metal that is cheap but lightweight and strong, and it is softer than steel which make it easy to be machined with less effort and less time. It has been used in the aerospace industry for more than eighty years as well as in many other industries such as automotive, construction, and consumer goods.
Table of Contents for This Article
1. What kind of aluminum is best for CNC Machining?
Different kinds of aluminum offer different properties. Aluminum 6061 is the most commonly used aluminum for CNC Machining because it is the most affordable and offers a good balance of strength, stiffness, and corrosion resistance.
Aluminum 6061 is an alloy of aluminum that has a high strength-to-weight ratio, which makes it ideal for applications where weight needs to be minimized. It also has excellent corrosion resistance, making it suitable for outdoor applications and marine environments.
2. Surface Treatment options for machining aluminum
Surface treatment is the process of applying a protective layer to the surface of your aluminum. This protective layer will protect your aluminum from corrosion and other damages. There are four main types of surface treatments for machining aluminum: anodizing, polishing, alodine, and sandblasting.
- Anodizing: anodizing is the most common type of surface treatment for machining aluminum. It is a process that creates a layer of oxide on the surface of metal. The anodic film is created by electrolysis that uses electricity to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. This process leaves behind a protective layer on the metal that has many benefits like increasing corrosion resistance and wear resistance. It also improves aesthetics because it can be dyed any color in the rainbow with a hard coat anodize finish.
- Polishing: polishing is a process where metal is buffed to produce a smooth finish on its surface. It removes scratches and other imperfections from the metal surface that are created by manufacturing or use over time. It can also be used to remove mill scale from the metal’s surface before anodizing or electrogalvanizing it.
- Alodine: alodine is a process where aluminum is coated with an protected layer by dipping it into a bath of alodine chemical liquid. It is used in aerospace applications because it forms an extremely thin and uniform coating that provides excellent protection against corrosion and wear, and aluminum parts can still have good conductivity which is different from anodizing.
- Sandblasting: sandblasting involves blasting the surface with abrasive material like sand or glass beads at high pressure to create a rough texture on the surface, you can choose different grades of roughness.
3. How much cost for machining aluminum?
In order to calculate the cost, you need to know how much time it will take, and the hourly rate of the machine be used .
The cost of cnc machining aluminum is a direct function of the time it takes to machine. The rate for machining aluminum with 3 axis milling is around $20 per hour ~ $30 per hour, 4 axis milling is around $30 ~ $50, 5 axis milling is around $50 ~ $70.