CNC machining is in demand nowadays. With this machining, the instructions are keyed to the software with the help of a trained technician & using computer instructions as a guide, the desired result is achieved. It’s point-to-point accuracy and speed has allowed machinists to produce high precision parts of any material 20X faster.
One such very popular material CNC machine shops love using is aluminum. It displays excellent machinability, is easier to shape, offers interesting thermal and mechanical properties, is non-ferrous and non-flammable, and thus, to nobody’s surprise, is the preferred material in the manufacturing sector.
Types of Aluminum Grades Used in Machining
For all the positive qualities of aluminum CNC machinability, it’s important to take look at different grades aluminum can take:
Grade 6061: Grade 6061 is highly weldable and has excellent mechanical properties that make it brilliant for 5 axis CNC machining.
Grade 7075: Garage 7075 is popular but not as common as the Grade 6061. 7075 is a favorite among CNC machinists due to its high fatigue strength. But it’s very costly and is reserved for tougher parts like aerospace, the automotive industry & consumer electronics.
Grade 2024: Lastly, we have the grade 2024, just like 7075, this is used mostly in aerospace and military purpose. It has properties like wear resistance and strength to make it a great use for applications.
CNC Machined Aluminum Parts Applications By Industries
All industries require precisely machined parts with amazing consistency. Countless industries use CNC machined aluminum parts for their fabrication needs:
Electronics: The motherboards or computer components have tiny parts that must work with consistency every time. The hardware of these electronic items has panels, tiny wires and other parts that CNC aluminum machining serves well. Aluminum’s low density makes it one of the best options for long-distance power lines.
Automotive: For decades the transportation industry is using aluminum parts. Think about the gears, pins, shafts that are used on vehicles of all sizes and styles. From automotive to military vehicles, CNC machined aluminum parts are the answer for the large and small parts.
Aerospace: As the aviation industry uses aluminum to build aircraft and also navigation instruments. The aerospace industry requires precision for aircraft travel parts like turbine engines for example. Aerospace favour five-axis CNC machining which can manage hard to cut elements.
Firearms: Weapons of all kinds require CNC machining, but especially firearms. If you have seen a disassembled gun, it’s the result of the CNC aluminum machining process that creates the pins, triggers, ammunition clips and other components of firearms.
Construction: The construction industry makes use of aluminum due to the versatility it offers. It can be bonded, wounded, moulded to create a variety of items. Aluminum parts are used in skylights, railings, doors, wiring to name a few.
Advantages of Aluminum Machined Parts
Aluminum is an extremely versatile material with several advantages. Aluminum can be ca melted, formed into a variety of shapes. There are many benefits to use CNC aluminum machined parts and some of these include:
1. They are easily machinable
Aluminum is a strong material but it chips easily that makes it easier to mould it any other shape. The material can withstand processes of punching, folding & drilling done during CNC machining, without losing any metal properties. Owing to the easy to shape property of aluminum, the energy required is less compared to other materials.
2. Excellent weight to strength ratio
Aluminum is a material that has the best of both worlds. It’s both lightweight and strong, this makes the material highly workable but will not break apart when put under pressure during manufacturing or in use. This makes it extremely suitable for the manufacture of critical parts in crucial industries automotive, aerospace and heavy equipment parts manufacture.
3. High electrical conductivity
Due to aluminum’s ability to conduct electricity, it’s excellent for manufacturing electrical parts. In its purest form, aluminum has an electrical conductivity of 37.7 million SPR at room temperature. It stands above the other materials such as stainless steel.
4. Can handle temperature variations
Steel and aluminum have been in the game for several years. These metals offer benefits that make them an ideal choice for industrial applications. But steel is not the right choice when it comes to temperature variations. It cannot withstand high welding temperatures or low temperatures. Aluminum can withstand both these conditions easily.
5. Corrosion resistance
As explained above in the article, this material is non-ferrous. It means that it will not rust or corrode. The 6061 grade, being the most commonly used grade of aluminum, is corrosion resistant. This earns the metal durability points as it can withstand harsh environments better.
A benefit of using aluminum is its recycling potential. This is apt for businesses that have a priority of reducing environmental footprint. CNC is known to be a subtractive process where lots of material waste is created due to chipping. Material waste can be recycled for a better product.
To Wrap Up
By now you know the importance of the aluminum parts for your business, the benefits of aluminum parts and the industries that use aluminum parts. While Aluminum is one of the stars of the CNC machining world, it’s not without its flaws. The best bet is to assess your requirements, speak to a specialized CNC machine shop to understand if aluminum fits your part and then make a decision!
© 2020 Norm Grimberg