What are the Some of the Common Alloys Used for CNC Machining?

21 October 2020

The use of CNC machine tools revolutionized manufacturing and the field of engineering. Both straight lines and complex contours are now just as easily machined, with much more consistent quality. At the early design stages of a part, material choice remains a critical decision – one that can be quite complex. Do you need something that’s malleable? Corrosion-resistant? Would a heat treatment make this material more suitable for your needs? There are so many options and considerations, that unless you’re an expert in the materials engineering field, it can easily become overwhelming. In this article, we’ll go over some basics that will help point you in the right direction. Here are some of the common alloys used

Copper Alloys

Not only is copper the best electrical conductor, its heat conductivity makes it suitable for products like cooling system elements and heat exchangers in the automotive industry. These heat conductivity properties also make it easier to shape through CNC machining.

Brass Alloys

Brass is a copper-zinc alloy. C38500 brass is an excellent choice for parts that require knurling and threading due to its strength, resistance to corrosion and wear, and great machinability. It is a great choice for electronic hardware and contacts, fittings, and a number of commercial products, thanks to its low strength combined with weight, as well as its low cost (its machining produces high scrap returns, which translates into cost savings).

Titanium Alloys

Titanium has a high melting point, is very strong, lightweight, and resistant to corrosion, water and salt. These are all unique characteristics for a number of industries and applications. Ti-6Al-4V is particularly strong and lightweight, which makes it perfect for aircraft and aerospace applications. Ti-6Al-4VEli is very similar, but with added good bio-compatibility, which makes it the number one option regarding medical implants. The tolerance for a ground and polished ½” bar of any of these two titanium alloys is set at +/-.002.

Aluminium Alloys

Aluminium is a popular choice for CNC machining. Aluminium machined components are completed in less time than any other metal, making aluminium and its alloys very economical to machine. The applications of aluminium and its alloys are virtually endless.

2011 aluminium is designed for machining, and is commonly used in all kinds of commercial products, especially in electronic hardware. However, 2011 aluminium cannot be anodized or welded. 6262 aluminium is a great all round alloy, which has good machinability, can be welded and also anodized.

6061 aluminium has good resistance to corrosion, weld ability, and formability. Just like the previous two alloys, it is common in electronic hardware, but also in piping, recreational equipment and aircraft components.

Steel Alloys

Most Steel alloys (e.g. 1020, 1030, S1214) can be case hardened, and are designed to provide excellent machinability. S1214 steel is designed for excellent machinability, which gives it an immense range of uses in commercial products, and it is probably the most varied of the steel alloys spectrum. Or S12L14 steel was developed for high volume production, repetition engineering.

1020 steel is a low-carbon steel with good machinability and excellent weldability, so it is used for rivets and parts that require strong welds. A Ø50mm round bar, cold drawn is normally supplied as a h10 tolerance, or +0/-0.1mm (or +0/-0.004”).


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