Tips for Machining Aluminum

Tips for Machining Aluminum

The modern machine shop may sometimes have the need to work with many different materials. However, when it comes to metal machining, aluminum alloys can present a major challenge and can be difficult to work with. Here are some helpful tips for working with aluminum to make your job a little easier.

Slow it Down

You can’t get in a hurry when working with softer metals. In fact, slowing down the process can make a big difference in your results. You don’t have to decrease speed or feed time, but don’t expect to get results as fast as you would with steel. In some cases, it takes an automated machine longer to perform specific tasks with aluminum.

Be Exact

With some kinds of metal machining you can play it by ear and estimate your settings. However, this is not the case with aluminum, so make sure to use a trusted calculator for speeds and feeds settings. Remember, you could be pushing some machines close to their limitations. Knowing the precise settings can give you the best results with the least amount of trouble.

You Need the Right Cutting Tools

If you are not using carbide tipped or coated tools for metal machining, you should get them for aluminum. Because aluminum is softer than steel, a sharper and harder cutting edge will work much better. This can help you avoid problems like chip buildup and overheated cutting tools. You will pay more for carbide but it is superior to high speed steel in many ways.

Avoid Chip Buildup

Chip buildup can be a real problem with aluminum, so make sure the cutting area stays as clean as possible. A vacuum system for chip removal may not be sufficient and you may need to go to a compressed air system if you plan to do a lot of metal machining with materials like aluminum.

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