Thread: routing aluminium help :)
Thanks for this post , I was also having problems cutting the thin 3mm stuff, just clogs up no matter what I tried, still haven't found a good feed & speed for this . Guy in Ali shop told me it was 6061. I downloaded trial of G-wizard but that still wouldn't give me good numbers. Does anyone have some suggestions of numbers I could try for this shitty 1050 3mm.
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From my experience with cutting aluminium I believe coolant and amount of coolant is very important. It is not only cooling factor, but chips removal and lubrication as well.
I use plain diesel, strait from petrol station as a coolant. It's cheap, available, does not cause corrosion and it is not likely to get bad. In fact it protects my machine against rust.
As an example, to cut my aluminium plate for my PC cooling system I used 4 flute HSS 3mm dia end mill available from UK online shop. There was no clogging and broken end mills at all. I don't remember feed rate and DOC( it was few yars back), but most certainly I wasn't creating alu dust.
Obviously using two or single flute carbide bit would be advantageous, but milling in a way I did proves significance and necessity of coolant.
Not the same trouble mind you, My problem is holding it down because the tool tries to lift it and it doesn't resist much.
I think it is practically pure aluminium, not enough magnesium, you could probably stretch it into a Coke can but that means the tool can push it out the way rather than cut it. Any interruption of the suds and the tool clags up, stops cutting and starts extruding.
Unless you have high flood cooling so the chips are getting washed away constantly then using a coolant how most do it by just brushing or spraying a bit of WM40 etc soley is more trouble than it's worth.? . . . It clogs the slot and makes the chips stick to the material rather than wash away, this results in chip recutting and actually creats more heat than cools. It also leaves a very poor finish and kills cutters prematurely.
Blown air with a slight mist is by far the best method for cutting ALi on a NONE Full flood coolant machine, mill or router based. (It's messy thou)
I use a dedicated air mister now but for years just used to blow the chips away with the odd occasional squirt of maintenance spray and just doing this gives far better tool life and finish than brushing coolant on.
To get good results and tool life in any material you need the heat away with the chips but in Ali it's even more important due to the sticky nature of the stuff and this can be achieved dry with good chipload and IME dry cutting with the correct chipload is far better than brushing the odd bit of coolant on.
Last edited by JAZZCNC; 04-06-2012 at 12:41 PM.
Got some 5083 4mm plate today , was told its hard & expensive too get 6061 that thin? . Also think my remaining 3mm carbide cutters are now dull ,from trying to cut crappy 3mm 1050 ,ally guy said the 3mm I had previous tried too cut was not 1050 was 5005 ?. Anyway Now have 5083 tried recommended feeds & speeds from g-wizard started good but then snapped after a minute or so. They didn't gum up just clean snap is this due too the bits being dull?
There isn't really a good supplier of end mills here in Australia so have too order from the US , which takes few weeks too arrive so wasting Bits gets frustrating.
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Kerosene is cheaper( I thing 1/2 price of diesel) but whole effort to find supplier - not worth it when petrol station is behind the corner
Robin, I use simple way of clamping - drywall screws with big washers. First I mount material from outside then mill all inside profile+holes, after this mount material from inside or through holes, remove outside screws then mill outsides.
Amateurish?? YES , but does its job
I used to have similiar setup untill last year when I changed to Ali bed and must say I do like it a lot better now but for some jobs it's not has easy as the MDF/screw method and I do actually still use MDF. The difference being I only use small offcut pieces that I throw away after several use's and only for certain jobs.
The main reason I shifted from the MDF bed was the constant movement so could never relay on it being flat or true, always having to surface it flat when jobs required it.!! . . Now it's the other way round I always have a flat and true surface to work from. When cutting jobs that are non surface critical and require thru cutting then I use MDF has a spoil board.
I also use HDPE for accurate spoil boards, HDPE is a nice stable unform thickness so can be relied upon not to change shape and stay resonably flat. It's also easy to screw into and doesn't blunt cutters like MDF.
Because my bed is quite large tend to devide it into segmants and use fixture boards located at a known positions on the bed then use fixture offsets in G-code so I can cut several different jobs on table.
The beauty of this means I can mount different materials on the table while one job is cutting then when it's finished that job it will move to the other fixture and start on the that material and I can remove the fixture plate with just completed job. . . . I also keep one area free that I can work direct off the bed.
Another plus to doing this means I can make better use of expensive offcut material like ALI or Brass.? So long has I know it's large enough to get the job out of and I position it in the correct place on the fixtures then I can cut several parts from scraps at the same time at any location on the bed I choose.
Basicly I draw the part with the X0-Y0-Z0 relative to the corner of the board then select G54,55,56 fixture offset for the selected area on my bed and assign it to this job. Each job has it's own offset code and when finished moves to the next offset and starts again at X0-Y-0 which is relative to the corner of the fixture board.
Doing it like this means I can set several jobs off in different materials in one go and walk away. .
Reading your answers on this thread is very helpful....IE speeds and feed rates. I have the 2kw Chinese spindle now, about to use it this week hopefully. I have ordered several 6mm single flute cutters. What about drilling through ali ? would it be the same setup and the same cutter ? what drilling method is best ?
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