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.
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.