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What Metal is Used in Machining?

There is no shortage in the use of machined parts. Machining is the process by which metal parts are curved out using specialized equipment. This process is popularly known as CNC machining. At a CNC machine shop, products made from machining can be used in various industries, including aerospace, manufacturing, medical, agriculture, and much more.

Machined parts are made from three types of materials.

  • Plastics
  • Composites
  • Metals.

Of all the three, metals are the most prominently used materials. However, not every metal can be machined, let alone used in all applications. Each type of metal is uniquely effective in certain applications.

For better outcomes, engage a professional before deciding on the best metals for your machined products. A good company is one with the appropriate equipment and is committed to ensuring customer satisfaction.

So, what metals are ideal for machining? Tag along as we evaluate different metals and how effectively they contribute to machining works. After reading this article, you’ll be able to identify the right type of metal for your project, preventing defects and associated financial implications.

Aluminum

Aluminum is a favorite among the metals that can be machined. It’s aesthetically appealing and very durable. Moreover, it stands out because of its corrosive resistance and lightweight properties.

The non-ferrous metal is easy to work with, not to mention its excellent strength-to-weight ratio. It’s best used in places needing a strong but portable material. Aluminum is 2.5 times lighter than steel.

Aluminum is also pocket friendly as it is widely available. There are different grades used during machining. The three most popular grades:

  • 3003 Aluminum: Pure aluminum mixed with manganese to increase its strength. This alloy also has a reduced cost per pound, making it the most commonly used form in machining processes.
  • 6061 Aluminum. Also known as “The Workhorse Aluminum,” it has higher corrosion resistance and heat welding properties than 300 series alloys.
  • 1100 Aluminum. This is the purest commercially available form (99% min purity). It has excellent workability and ductility.

With aluminum having over 300 alloys, there are other grades available. As you settle on using aluminum as your metal machining material, understand the nuances between the different grades.

However, the low melting temperature for aluminum makes it challenging to work with during CNC metal machining. It tends to form a gummy residue when being machined.

Aluminum is used to make pipes, machine parts, mobile phones, and filters.

Brass

Brass is another aesthetically appealing metal used in CNC machining. The aesthetic appeal means you do not need to paint it after machining. However, brass might need heat treatment because of stress corrosion cracking, which it is highly susceptible to.

Brass is a copper and zinc alloy, which makes it very stable to work with. In addition, it is medium hard and very strong. Hence it is an excellent material for metal machining.

Furthermore, brass has non-magnetic properties, excellent malleability, and low friction. This makes brass friendly to the CNC machines because it does not cause wear and tear.

Its high heat and electricity conductivity make the metal fit for various industries. However, brass needs great attention and maintenance due to its susceptibility to tarnish.

Brass can be used in joining, finishing, and plating architectural projects. It can also be used in locks, gears, electronic hardware, and contacts. Moreover, it makes bearings, valves, bushings, handles, lamp parts, and marine parts.

Copper

Among all machine-able metals, copper offers the best electrical and heat conductivity. This copper property has made it very useful in making CNC machined circuit boards and components of electromagnets.

In addition to its conductivity, copper is cost-effective and has a superb surface finish. Nevertheless, it also has great rust resistance but is susceptible to considerable wear and tear when exposed to ammonia-based solutions, sulfides, and halogens.

Its machinability and malleability allow it to be shaped in different ways. This makes copper ideal for the following products.

  • Radiators
  • Heat exchangers
  • Connectors
  • Hand tools
  • Motors
  • Cookware
  • Generators

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is very usable in different industries because of its ability to resist rust and corrosion.

Stainless steel is made through a process known as passivation. During passivation, the metal is passed through chemicals that remove excess iron forming an oxide layer that makes the metal inert to reactions on the surface.

Stainless steel is also an alloy of iron and chromium. Chromium bonds with oxygen; hence the metal is resistant to rust and corrosion. But it also makes the metal vulnerable because it has limited self-healing capability after scratches or abrasions.

These properties make stainless steel ideal for making industrial equipment and medical devices. It can also make automotive and aerospace components and military hardware.

Titanium

Titanium is one of the best metals that can have a lot of applications. However, it is difficult to machine because of its poor thermal conductivity. Titanium is twice as strong as aluminum but is heavier than aluminum by 60 percent.

In addition to a high strength ratio, titanium boasts a low strength-to-weight ratio and chemical corrosion resistance. These outstanding qualities make titanium an ideal metal for application in industries such as the aerospace industry.

In addition, titanium is biocompatible, making it usable in the medical industry, especially when making bone replacement parts such as hips.

Unfortunately, titanium is extremely expensive. Furthermore, it can burn even at temperatures lower than its melting point. These negative properties and difficulty in machining make titanium the last option when considering metals to use during CNC machining.

Titanium is only used in places where it is the only option that serves the purpose.

Choosing the Right Metal for Machining

Before settling on the metal you want to use for your project, you must understand all the metal properties and how they translate to your project. It is also important to consider CNC machining and choose the best option that is also easy to machine.

It’s understandable if deciding your machining metals gets a little overwhelming. However, consulting with professionals like Evden Enterprises Inc. will make your work much more manageable.

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