CNC Machining for Aluminum Parts

Aluminum offers excellent machinability, durability, low weight, and low cost for a variety of parts in a variety of industries

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Sample of Aluminum used in CNC machining

Product Description

Aluminum is a popular choice for machining due to its low density, good mechanical properties, high thermal and electrical conductivity, and resistance to corrosion. Aluminum alloys, such as 6061-T651, 7075-T651, and 2024-T351, are commonly used in CNC machining because they offer a good balance of strength, machinability, and cost.

Key Benefits

  • Excellent machinability
  • High strength and hardness
  • Heat tolerance and corrosion resistance
  • Electrical conductivity
  • Overall versatility
  • Low cost

Applications

Aluminum parts can be found everywhere, in a range of industries, especially automotive, aerospace, industrial equipment and machinery, and consumer and computer electronics.

  • Automotive parts (light-weighting provides high strength-to-weight ratio)
  • Housing, brackets, and other components for aerospace use that must support heavy load capacities but be light weight
  • Fixtures, calipers, and a variety of other parts for industrial equipment
  • Enclosures, panels, consoles, knobs, housing, and other applications for consumer and computer electronics

Aluminum Alloys for Machining

Protolabs offers several aluminum alloys in its long list of available manufacturing materials.

Aluminum 7075 T651 and T7: Benefits include high strength, hardness, low weight, corrosion resistance, and high heat tolerance.

Aluminum 2024 T3: This high-strength alloy offers a high strength-to-weight ratio and high corrosion resistance.

Aluminum 6061 T651: Though not as strong as other types of Aluminum, this alloy offers the best corrosion resistance and appearance after anodizing. 



Compare Aluminum Materials

 

   Temper Ultimate Tensile Strength   Elongation Hardness  More Information
Aluminum 2024  T351  68 ksi  19%  120 HRB Data Sheet
Aluminum 6061  T651  45 ksi  17% 95 HRB Data Sheet
Aluminum 7075  T651  67-78 ksi  3-9%  150 HRB Data Sheet
Aluminum 7075  T7  61-69 ksi  6-7% 135 HRB Data Sheet

 

 

Examples of both anodized parts and chromate plating

Protolabs offers anodizing and chromate plating finish options to give your CNC machined parts more durability and enhance the appearance of the final part.

Finishing Options for CNC Machined Aluminum Parts

Anodizing is one of the most common finishing options, offering strong corrosion protection and enhancing the overall appearance of metal parts. Three types of aluminum anodizing are available from Protolabs:

  • Type I-Chromic Acid: Provides a whisper-thin but still durable coating. Commonly used for welded parts and assemblies, and as a primer before painting. Like all anodized surfaces, it is non-conductive.
  • Type II-Sulfuric Acid: Harder than Type I it offers an exceedingly durable finish. Usage examples include: carabiner hooks, flashlight handles, motorcycle parts, and hydraulic valve bodies.
  • Type III-Hard Anodize or Hardcoat: This is the thickest and hardest anodize available, and has a wide range of applications for parts and products in automotive, aerospace, heavy equipment, marine industry, general manufacturing, and military/law enforcement.

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CNC Machining Design Guide

In this guide to CNC machining, you'll learn how to create efficient, manufacturable metal and plastic parts for prototyping and production.