CNC machining is an additive manufacturing process that carves raw materials into precision parts. If you’re looking to make high-quality parts but don’t have the right materials, CNC machining might be right for your project.
In this blog, we dive deeper into the different types of materials suitable for CNC machining and the pros and cons of each material. Whether you’re looking to 3D print prototypes or manufacture production parts, knowing all your options will help you make a more informed decision.
Common Metal Materials for CNC Machining
-Metals that are commonly used for CNC machining include steel, aluminum, titanium, brass, copper, and stainless steel. While all these metal materials have their own advantages and disadvantages, they all share the common feature of high strength-to-weight ratios. In most cases, material selection is based on machinability, wear resistance, strength properties, corrosion resistance, hardness, temperature tolerance and cost.
-The alloy with tungsten and chromium has high tensile strength. This material is suitable for applications requiring high tensile strength such as aerospace parts and super-high- strength steel (SHS).
-Low carbon steel is durable and can be machined easily without deformation or alloying. The material is durable in most temperatures with good wear resistance properties. It also has good corrosion resistance properties.
-Solid carbide material has high hardness and resistance to wear and corrosion. Since it has high hardness, it does not require any alloying to obtain high strength of material. Besides, its machinability is also very high.
-Softer materials such as brass and aluminum are suitable for CNC routing and carving jobs as they do not require alloying. Besides their corrosion resistance properties, machining soft materials produces less heat than hard materials making them more efficient to machine.
Aluminum 6061 is a lightweight, corrosion-resistant alloy that is commonly used for manufacturing in a range of fields, including aerospace and medical industries. This alloy is known for its high strength-to-weight ratio and machinability properties, making it an ideal material for mass-production projects. Besides, aluminum 6061 has good electrical and thermal conductivity, which makes it an ideal metal for components with high temperature or mechanical requirements. In addition to its high durability and stability, aluminum 6061 is also known for its low cost, making it a popular material in the manufacturing industry. It has been used in various consumer products such as camera lenses and medical equipment due to its lightweight and corrosion-resistant properties. This alloy is versatile and can be machined into different shapes and sizes.
Aluminum 7075 is a lightweight and strong aluminum alloy that is commonly used in aerospace applications due to its high strength-to-weight ratio and ability to be heat treated to high strength and hardness. Aluminum 7075 is an optimal material for construction and marine applications due to its exceptional resistance to seawater. It has good machinability and dimensional stability, making it suitable for machining projects, such as aerospace frames, automotive components, sporting goods, and RC frames.
Compared with other aluminum alloys, aluminum 7075 is less corrosion-resistant when exposed to salt water or other chemicals. However, the corrosion resistance can be improved by using suitable surface treatments. Whether you are a small business looking for cost-effective metal materials or a large manufacturing facility seeking high-quality material for your production line, aluminum 7075 is a reliable choice that will suit your project needs.
Stainless Steel 304
Stainless steel 304 is a popular material for CNC machining due to its mechanical properties and machinability. It is an alloy of stainless steel made by adding chromium and nickel to the basic steel recipe. As a result, stainless steel 304 has high corrosion resistance and strength properties, making it suitable for a variety of applications, including kitchen accessories and cutlery, tanks, and pipes used in industry, architecture, and automotive trim. Additionally, stainless steel 304 is non-magnetic and readily machinable, making it an ideal material for creating parts from screws, nuts, and other attachment hardware. This makes stainless steel 304 a versatile metal with many applications in manufacturing.
Stainless Steel 316
316 stainless steel is a popular material for machining due to its high wear and corrosion resistance. This material is ideal for use in machining operations that require high precision and stability, such as aerospace and medical devices. It has high strength, making it suitable for use in extreme environments, such as oil and gas production.
316 stainless steel is corrosion-resistant and can be used in saltwater environments due to its corrosion resistance. This makes it an ideal material for machining parts that must withstand harsh environmental conditions, such as aerospace materials and medical devices. In addition to these properties, 316 stainless steel has good oxidation resistance, making it suitable for use in chemical manufacturing processes. Overall, this material exhibits high wear resistance and stability, making it an ideal choice for machining operations requiring precision and stability.
Common Plastic Materials for CNC Machining
Plastic polymers are the most common material used for CNC machining. They are known for their versatility, high strength, durability, and high chemical resistance, which makes them a good choice for parts that require high strength and durability. Common plastics used for machining include Polyacetal (POM), Acrylics (PMMA), Polycarbonate (PC), and Polypropylene (PP). Each material has unique properties that can be leveraged to create parts with different functionalities. Defining material requirements and selecting the most suitable material for the machining operation is essential in ensuring that parts featuring the desired features are manufactured accurately.
Nylon is a durable material that is commonly used in applications such as domestic appliances and automobile manufacturing parts. It is also suitable for making bearings, insulators, and parts exposed to large amounts of water. Plastic materials such as acrylic, polycarbonate, PVC, and nylon are commonly used in CNC machining projects. These materials have different properties, which can be best suited for different types of machining jobs. When choosing a material for your project, consider the application and material properties to ensure you choose the right one for the job at hand.
PMMA acrylic is a common thermoplastic material used for CNC machining. PMMA acrylic is visually transparent, has high tensile strength, flexural strength, UV tolerance, scratch resistance, and abrasion resistance. It is used for display screens, lenses, clear enclosures, and food storage. PMMA acrylic can be treated with vapor polishing to make it optically clear. However, it is susceptible to heat deformation and should be stress-relieved before machining. To ensure accurate machining results, proper machining procedures must be followed. This can include pre-stressing the material and applying lubricant to facilitate smooth movement during the process. Other precautions include wearing adequate safety equipment such as eye protection and protective clothing
PMMA Acrylic is a good material for machining due to its high tensile strength and toughness as well as its visual transparency and chemical resistance
The material must be treated with vapor polishing before machining to ensure accurate results
PEEK is a semi-crystalline polymer with excellent machinability and good impact resistance, making it suitable for Cnc machining. PEEK has excellent dimensional stability, chemical resistance, and wear and tear resistance, making it a popular choice for Cnc machined parts such as switches, sockets, and connectors. PEEK has a high temperature resistance, self-lubrication, tight tolerances, low cost, and high mechanical strength, making it a suitable material for cnc machining. Common metals for cnc machining include brass, copper, stainless steel, and aluminum. These materials all have their own properties that make them ideal for different applications.
PEEK is a versatile material that can be used in various applications due to its high strength and stability. It is lightweight but strong enough to withstand high temperatures without melting. This makes PEEK a good material for cnc machining where precision is important. Other common materials for cnc machining include brass, copper, stainless steel, and aluminum. Each material has its own properties that make it ideal for different applications.
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– Materials that can be machined include steel, aluminum, stainless steel, copper, and plastic.
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To ensure high-quality machining, it is imperative to choose the right material for your CNC part or machine tooling job. The material and hardness factor into precision, strength, machinability, and surface finish of a part. Therefore, picking the right material is vital to get high-quality finished parts. To help you choose the right material for your next machining project,
we have put together an ebook that outlines the properties of different materials and their machining properties in detail. Request your free copy of this ebook today!