A computer numerical control (CNC) router is a computer-controlled machine for cutting various hard materials, such as wood, steel, plastics, aluminum, and foams. Cutting materials such as aluminum is not a cakewalk; aluminum has a sticking factor to it. It sometimes welds itself to the tool, which will cut short the life of your tool. Despite these challenges, cutting aluminum successfully with a CNC router is possible. Here are 6 tips for using a CNC Router for cutting aluminum victoriously.
- Use a feeds and speeds calculator
Using a CNC router to cut aluminum is not very easy. You need a feeds and speeds calculator to make your aluminum cutting process comfortable and productive. While choosing the calculator be sure it has optimum features such as minimum rpm setting in the starting and then you can change the speed according to the requirement, make sure your new feed and speeds calculator has downcut bits, V-Bits, and compression bits. Ensure it has the capability of measuring deflection and also offers solutions to avoid excessive deflection.
- Use smaller diameter cutters
When going at high speeds it is beneficial to use small sized cutters approximately ¼” they can reduce the cutter deflection. And in cases where high rpm is required small cutter reduces time and money. Keep the tooling capabilities of the machine in mind while using it and do not try to add anything more than the recommended settings.
- Clear the chips
Re-cutting chips can cause damage to the bits of your router. Be paranoid about clearing the chips efficiently, do not rely completely on your vacuum dust collection system unless you are satisfied it sucks chips from the deepest cuts. Attaching an air blast to the spindle and directing it to where the CNC cutter and the material meet is a reliable way of ensuring proper cleaning. If you make shallower cuts and more passes can also help in avoiding additional chip build up.
- Provide lubrication
You can use a lubricant to reduce stinking of the chips to the cutting ends. A mist lubricant is the best option as it acts both as a lubricant and can also provide air blast. This is absolutely necessary so that there is no obstruction to the cutter of the CNC router when doing a work.
- Watch cut depths and slotting
Do not make the mistake of cutting deeper cuts in order to save time. This may work for wood or plastic but not for aluminum. Cutting deeper and closer to a slot will make it harder to clear the chips out of a hole. You can make many shallow passes to reach the desired location. This will make the access easy and also make it easier to remove chips.
- Use fewer flutes
You may have the habit of using four flutes for cutting wood, but only three flutes are enough for aluminum. The reason for this being aluminum produces large chips in comparison to other materials. Fewer the number of flutes more space will be provided between the cutting edge. This will help the big sized chips to escape.