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7 Tips for Machining Aluminum Alloys

MachiningCenter-Aluminum_193x161Machining aluminum alloys for aerospace, electronics, computers, and other applications presents a number of challenges for CNC machine shops. If you’re considering expanding your capabilities to include making aluminum alloy parts, there are a number of important factors to consider:

  1. VMC or HMC? If your shop relies heavily on Vertical Machining Centers, you may wish to consider adding a Horizontal Machining Center for aluminum alloy production. HMCs provide superior chip control, automatic pallet indexing and rotation (B axis) as part of their basic design.
  2. Thermal Stability. Aluminum alloys are more susceptible to temperature variations. Therefore a machine tool designed both structurally and through sophisticated compensation hardware and software for optimum thermal stability will enable you to hold tolerances more precisely.
  3. Spindle Horsepower. Although aluminum is more free cutting than harder materials, it still consumes a substantial amount of horsepower, especially with aggressive speeds and feed rates. The spindle should be capable of speeds in excess of 12,000 RPM with a sufficient horsepower rating for your applications.
  4. Through Spindle and Flood Coolant. For optimum efficiency machining aluminum alloys you should have the ability to apply high-pressure coolant at least 1000 psi during many machining operations, and be able to flush chips away from the cutting zone. A programmable, variable pressure system is the best choice for all applications.
  5. Chip Conveyor. Aluminum chips can create a bottleneck to your workflow and standard hinge belt conveyors may not be able to keep up with the demands of your machining operation. The best solution is a self-cleaning, filtering chip conveyor that can filter coolant to 250 or 500 microns.
  6. CNC Control. Machining complex shapes in aluminum alloys requires a sophisticated control system that enables you to program multiple axes, control contour, support NURBS programming, interface with multiple CAD/CAM software, and much more.
  7. Resources. There are a number of other factors to consider when machining aluminum alloys, including tooling, in-process or post-process inspection, and loading and unloading parts. The Gosiger team brings over 90 years of machine tool experience, wide-ranging applications experience, plus unmatched technical service and customer support to help customers – just like you – find the best solutions for any manufacturing challenge. Call Gosiger for more information.
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