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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cnc machined aluminum part

Designers and engineers frequently choose aluminum and aluminum alloys for CNC machining and CNC milling parts. Makes sense. This all-purpose metal has been proven to offer:

  • Excellent machinability
  • High strength
  • Hardness
  • Heat tolerance
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Electrical conductivity
  • Low weight
  • Low cost
  • Overall versatility

Compare Aluminum 6061 and Aluminum 7075

   Temper Ultimate Tensile Strength   Elongation Hardness 
Aluminum 6061 T651 45 kpsi  17%  60 HRB
Aluminum 7075 T651 83 kpsi 11% 87 HRB

Aluminum Alloys for Machining

Protolabs offers several aluminum alloys in its long list of available manufacturing materials. Two of those alloys are especially well-suited material options for CNC machining, whether milling or turning: Aluminum 6061 and 7075.

Aluminum 6061: Benefits include low cost, versatility, excellent corrosion resistance, and superior appearance after anodizing. See data sheet for more information.

Aluminum 7075: Benefits include high strength, hardness, low weight, corrosion resistance, and high heat tolerance. See data sheet for more information.

Machined Aluminum 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

Anodizing 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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