One of the keys to successful CNC machining is selecting the right metal. At Superior Metal Shapes, we exclusively work on aluminum. Aluminum is widely used in CNC machining for its lightweight, recyclability, and mechanical properties. Aluminum’s workability makes it an ideal candidate for CNC machining.
CNC Machining Operations
The CNC equipment at Superior Metal Shapes executes high-precision designs. This is accomplished by converting digital computer-aided design (CAD) into computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). Software controls within the machine facilitate multiple operations to form the final product. The CNC machines in our shop are capable of handling tasks across multiple axes simultaneously. This is achieved with a single set of prompts that the machine consistently follows to facilitate high levels of repeatability regardless of the size of the production run.
CNC machining metal parts can complete a range of tasks to alter aluminum material. Aluminum can be shaped or cut to achieve the final design. There are three main processes to achieve this:
- Drilling: This utilizes rotating drill bits to create cylindrical holes in the workpiece. There are several types of drill bits to choose from based on the desired outcome.
- Milling: Milling is the process of using rotating multi-point cutting tools to shape the workpiece. This is typically done on either a vertical or horizontal axis.
- Turning: Turning uses stationary single-point cutting tools to remove unwanted material from a moving workpiece. Turning can be useful in several applications, such as finishing, facing, threading, parting, and more.
- Titanium: Titanium is an especially strong and resilient metal. At the same time, it is lightweight, highly workable, and can be easily welded; however, it doesn’t react well to polishing.
- Stainless Steels: The most common type of stainless steel is austenitic, which has a chemical makeup of nitrogen, nickel, and manganese. This chemical composition provides excellent machinability and weldability. The three most popular grades used in CNC machining are SS304, SS303, and SS316.
- Aluminum: Aluminum is the most commonly used metal for CNC milling. It has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, is workable, and is quite versatile. The most common types used for CNC machining are Aluminum 7075 and Aluminum 6061.
- Brass: Brass is the preferred metal for plumbing systems. It is used when aesthetics are important, such as home decor or musical instruments. Certain applications also favor brass for its low-temperature tolerances and excellent thermal conductivity.
- Carbon Steel 1045: Carbon Steel 1045 is incredibly strong and is typically more economical than stainless steel. It is frequently used for mechanical parts such as nuts or gears.
- D2 Steel: Like most steel, D2 Steel is incredibly strong and durable. D2 in particular is highly resistant to wear and abrasion. It is a popular choice for applications that demand high structural integrity.
Aluminum CNC Machining
Superior Metal Shapes focuses exclusively on Aluminum CNC machining. Aluminum’s lightweight and non-magnetic properties make it an excellent material for molding into a wide range of shapes. On its own, aluminum can be soft and weak, but small additions of magnesium, zinc, or copper can be used to bolster its strength.
Aluminum is widely used for its mechanical properties. Desirable properties found in aluminum include resistance to chemicals and corrosion, durability, conductivity for both heat and electricity, resistance, and softness. Aluminum can be found in numerous industries, most notably medical, military, aerospace, and many industrial engineering sectors.
Aluminum is perhaps the most eco-friendly metal to work with, given its recyclable properties. It can easily be reused, allowing companies to reduce their carbon footprint.
Metal CNC Machining from Superior Metal Shapes
Superior Metal Shapes is a family-owned operation that has been in business for nearly 40 years. We take a consultative approach with clients during the prototype stage to ensure client satisfaction throughout the process. We specialize in custom CNC metal machining, specifically aluminum extrusion, and have worked across numerous industries.