CNC Aluminum Cutting

 CNC Aluminum Cutting

Aluminum is one of the softest metals that you can cut. In terms of tooling, you can use the least expensive tools to cut it and run CNC machines to their limits. This can result in fast machining with little concern for tool breakage. The most important aspect of cutting aluminum in a CNC machine is the proper evacuation of chips, which can build on parts and tools. This buildup can result in tool breakage and wasted money and material.


    • 1

      Cut aluminum with a roughing end mill to start the cutting process. Roughing end mills are useful for all kinds of metals, but uncoated, high-speed steel models are perfectly suited for soft aluminum. Whether you are using a manual mill or a CNC model, you can use a two-fluted rougher running at a fast speed and feed.

    • 2

      Choose a high speed steel two-fluted finishing end mill to remove a small amount of material after you have roughed the basic shape. A finisher made of high-speed steel is perfectly suited for finishing aluminum as it is the least expensive end mill and can be run very fast. Two-fluted models are preferred as four-fluted models often get unwanted chip buildup, which causes breakage.

    • 3

      Choose standard drills for drilling aluminum. In CNC mills and lathes, the use of coolant or air is essential to blow off aluminum chips as they can cause damage to cutting tools if not evacuated often. Running drills at the maximum speed is also a benefit of cutting aluminum as the feed rate can also be increased when the RPMs are high. When using drills in CNC lathes, quick up-and-down cuts are preferred to prevent the drills from getting stuck in the soft material.

    • 4

      Choose uncoated indexable inserts on tool blocks for shaping and cutting aluminum. Uncoated indexable inserts can save you a substantial amount of money over the price of coated inserts used for cutting hard metals, such as steel and iron. Choose pre-sharpened tool blocks for aluminum as they will last quite a long time as aluminum is very soft and causes little wear on the carbide surface of a pre-sharpened cutter.

    • 5

      Choose standard bullet taps for through holes on aluminum as the material is soft enough to be tapped at the fastest settings. Material such as brass and steel must be tapped very slowly; whereas you can tap aluminum at the highest speeds using a specific tapping fluid made for aluminum. Non-coated taps can be very inexpensive; using coated helix taps is a waste of money.