Aluminum is easy to machine compared to certain other types of metals. There are a few factors that significantly affect the machinability of this metal, which we will explore below. At JBC Machine, we offer a wide array of machining services, including those involving aluminum machining, for various industrial applications.
1. The Metal
The metal itself, specifically its temper and its alloy, uniformity of mechanical properties, and microstructure represent the first factor. When it comes to machining consistency, the interior contents of the metal make the difference.
2. The Machining Process
The actual machining process is the second factor. This process includes the cutting tools, equipment, feed rates, cutting speeds, and lubricants involved.
3. Material Processing
The third factor involves material processing. This includes the heat treatment and alloy chemistry, die design, reduction ratio, extrusion process controls, and the press used in the extrusion of the aluminum.
Aluminum machinability ratings are tied to chipping characteristics. Tool forms can be specified from this information. The form of the chips is important as a result of the volume of the chips created during aluminum machining.
During the process of machining aluminum, it is preferable to produce tight, short chips that will not interfere with tooling operations or damage part surfaces.
Below are the machinability ratings for aluminum alloys that identify what is expected for chips and surface finishes:
- A-rating: Excellent surface finish with very small chips
- B-rating: Good surface finish with easily broken or curled chips
- C-rating: Good surface finish with continuous chips
- D-rating: Satisfactory finish with continuous chips
- E-rating: Difficult-to-maintain finish with long, continuous chips
Stronger and Harder Aluminum Alloys Result in Shorter Chips
Most of the time, when the chips are shorter, it means the aluminum alloy is harder and stronger. This also means that extremely long chips are produced by pure aluminum and soft wrought alloys. If you intend to machine these alloys, it is necessary to perform certain tasks in advance, such as adding chip breakers to the tools.
The types of aluminum alloys that are the most ideal for machining include alloying elements with low melting temperatures. This feature helps in the production of shorter chips, which are preferred.
To learn how our machining professionals at JBC machine can help you with your aluminum machining requirements, give us a call today at 920.779.4075, complete our contact form, or request a free quote on our site.