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Tips for Choosing the Best Materials to Use in CNC Machining

One of the most popular and commonly used methods of manufacturing products and parts is CNC machining. Computer Numerical Controls machining, when used correctly, can make manufacturing an incredibly automated procedure, giving it the edge over more traditional forms of manufacturing concerning the accuracy, production rate, and speed.

With all that said, one thing that is difficult when it comes to CNC machining is choosing the best materials. Various factors need to be considered, such as cosmetic appearance, weight, strength, corrosion resistance, price, and workability. Although there are many hundreds of different alloys and metals suitable for CNC work, we are going to discuss some of the most popular.

Titanium

This metal is best known for its toughness, lightweight and incredible strength. Titanium is very easy to weld and anodize for appearance and protection. The downsides are that it’s not a very good conductor of electricity, but a great heat conductor and doesn’t polish particularly well. Generally, titanium is also more on the pricey side compared to others. Although it can be easily sourced from the planet’s crust, it can be difficult to refine. You will find that it is used most in bio-medical, industrial, aerospace and military applications.

Stainless Steel 316

Stainless-steel 316 is often given the title of “marine-grade” and is very easy to weld and robust. As it also has strong anti-corrosion properties it is often used for automotive, industrial pipes, marine fittings, and architectural purposes.

Stainless-Steel 304

You will often see this metal written as being 18/8 and it is the most popular and common type of stainless-steel used today. Corrosion-resistant, machinable, non-magnetic and impressively tough, this is a great material to use when CNC machining components for the automotive, architectural and industrial sectors, as well as pipes, tanks and accessors. It is very common in various consumer products too.

Brass

You will find that brass is very popular in the construction of musical instruments, home décor pieces, and plumbing fittings. This is down to the fact it is easy to work with and is a very soft material. It is also favored for cosmetic purposes and applications as it polishes extremely well. This is another reason why it is often used in home décor. As no sparks are generated when it is struck against another metal, it is perfect for use in areas and environments that could be explosive. Although free-cutting brass originally consisted of some lead to make it easier to machine, you can now get it completely free of lead. Naval brass can be trickier to work with than the alternative. However, it has the benefit of being resistant to the corrosive effects of the sea and polishes extremely well.

Aluminum 6061

Aluminum 6061 is by far the most common and popular general-purpose aluminum that is used in CNC machining. It is particularly useful for RC vehicle frames, sports goods, bicycle frames, and auto parts. Like the other aluminum alloys, you find, it has a great strength-to-ratio ratio and has a natural resistance to corrosion caused by atmospheric conditions. Although machinable and workable, it is a bit more expensive than some other materials. It also doesn’t fare well when placed in saltwater and some chemicals.

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