The selection of the right material for CNC machining is almost as important as the precision of the whole parts manufacturing process. Such a decision can deliver many benefits for a client: be part of cost optimization, improvement of manufactured parts quality/performance, or significant speed up of the whole process.
Selection of the best materials for CNC machining is a matter between material sciences and numerically controlled machines. That is why while choosing the right materials for the numerically controlled machining it is good to contact a professional CNC manufacturing company.
Such consultation can lead to many measurable benefits – from the better cost of machining to increase parts parameters.
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Why is the selection of good materials for CNC machining so important?
Choosing the right material for CNC milling, turning aluminum, or machining polymers is very important – to some extent: even THE most important step in the whole manufacturing process.
The right materials include factors like:
- expected mechanical resistance of part,
- an environment that is safe for machined parts (eg. contact with corrosive agents),
- expected mass of part,
- the cost of selected material (some steel alloys can be less financially efficient than
some aluminum and on the contrary),
- preferred machining technique and parameters – some materials are more susceptible to selected types of machining and can be also subjected to additional processes (like aluminum anodization).
👉 Finding answers to these questions can help to narrow the area of materials and to select the right one for a particular manufacturing process to achieve the best possible quality of parts.
The vast range of materials, with different parameters (like strength-to-weight ratio or natural corrosion resistance), can sometimes cause problems. To find the best alloy for the job it is good to contact a professional CNC machining factory.
On the other hand – such selection is only a step in the whole process. For example – knowing the "part should be machined on the CNC lathe from the block of polymers" is still not precise enough. The main reason is simple – there are many types of material:
- polymers (eg. POM or PAI),
- steels (eg. carbon steel),
- aluminum (alloys like aluminum 6061 or pure aluminum).
Consultation with professional CNC machining operators can help to select the right allow for the job. In addition – the initially selected material can be suboptimal for the desired part.
💡 Eg. it can not hold dimensional stability due to temperatures or could be easily changed to cheaper, but with similar or enough wear resistance (eg. polymers can be used in place of steel in small gears).
On the other hand – such consultation can help to limit the amount of possible problems in
💡 For example, switching from the heavy-duty anti-corrosion coating of steel to anodized aluminum can provide even better protection against corrosion agents while still maintaining the expected parameters for selected industrial applications.
On top many 'types', 'series', and 'families'; of alloys or types of polymers can be noted with some variations. For example – some batches of material can perform worse than others, although regulated with the same international norms (ISO). To prevent problems with such quality fluctuation in RADMOT we perform thorough quality control of every material we use to machine parts for our clients. That can provide many problems at many stages of the process or usage of parts and on the other hand – gives us a serenity to provide the highest quality materials for our clients.
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At RADMOT, you can count on the experience of our specialists.
Cost of material for the CNC machining project - how to optimize?
The CNC technology itself can decrease the cost of manufacturing big batches of parts.
But how to choose materials for CNC machining that will help to lower such costs even further, but without quality compromise?
💡 First of all: material sciences knowledge and experience are required.
Many modern alloys and materials (steels, aluminum alloy, polymers) have:
- very good mechanical parameters, like good or high tensile strength,
- high abrasion resistance,
- acceptable corrosion resistance – that can be bettered in additional processes.
These advantages are important, but not always obvious from the perspective of a person who designs a bigger mechanism. A good example of that approach is the utilization of polymers in applications that require good abrasion resistance and low mass of manufactured parts.
Such solutions allow to:
- decrease the weight of the whole mechanism,
- significantly decrease the cost of manufacturing (eg. in comparison to aluminum parts that could be as light, but after meticulous machining process, like skeletonization, that require longer machine time and causes higher cost),
- find even better-suited materials for particular applications.
💡 The other way to lower the cost of manufacturing is by increasing the number of elements (scaling up production).
That type of savings is a perfect example of CNC technology advantages – high repetitiveness of parts can lead to a decrease in unit cost by quantity. Although time-consuming to start, picking up a project on CNC can be fast (due to the already produced CAM program).
That is why the threshold of the minimal batch amount for CNC machining can be estimated at 100 elements (minimum). To maintain the best cost optimization in RADMOT we estimate amounts like:
- 100 units per batch,
- 1000 units per year.
The best ratio of the service quality level to the price can be obtained with the production volume starting from 100 units per series and 1,000 units per annum.
An increase in production numbers can lead to a decrease in the cost of machined units. CNC machines do not require new programs and production of new batches can be started almost on-spot.
Combined with big experience in the CNC machining area, cooperation with professional CNC plants like RADMOT can be a source of significant savings – during well-suited production and after that, thanks to the highest quality of machined parts.
Types of materials used in the contemporary CNC machining
Practically every material used in contemporary industries can be machined with numerically controlled devices. The difference is of course in the approach to such work (eg. other parameters of work, different cutting tools), but still – such shaping is possible and often chosen as a default. Contemporary CNC machining centers work mainly with materials such as:
- steel (vast variety of types) – it is one of the oldest and most popular materials for many industries. That is why steel machining is today one of the most popular services in machining plants like RADMOT. Steel offers many important qualities, like high strength, good dispersion of high temperatures, and – after a proper surface bettering process – acceptable/good corrosion resistance,
- aluminum (a wide range of alloys from 1xxx to 8xxx) – is another very popular material for CNC machining. Parts made of that metal lay at the foundation of many industries – from overall manufacturing and automotive industry to airplane and cosmic industries. Aluminum alloys have good mechanical rigidity, has very good strength-to-weight ratio, and on top of natural corrosion resistance can be bettered in the anodization process,
- titanium – the alloys are less popular than previously due to high cost and very narrow applications. On that note – in the most demanding application, CNC- machined titanium parts can deliver the highest rigidity and mechanical parameters. It is worth mentioning that without CNC-machined titanium parts, the contemporary airplane industry would not be there where it is today,
- polymers – it is a very broad group of materials that could be formed and machined in the CNC plants. These materials can fulfill the role of glass alternatives (eg. plexiglass), broadly applicable polymers (eg. POM), and even highly efficient materials that can be used in place of steel or aluminum (eg. high-performing polymers like PAI). Plastics machining allows the manufacture of light and at the same time – light enough parts that allow optimization of production costs,
- wood, plywood – very popular in the carpentry industry, often machined with CNC devices, especially in mass production.
We will choose the best material for you for CNC machining - you can count on our support
At RADMOT, we can offer CNC milling services, CNC turning services as well as many additional services, including washing, aluminum anodizing, laser marking and assembly.
Contact us and tell us what you need. We have been providing CNC services for 40 years. Our quote is completely free. And if you are in doubt about which technology will work best for you, we are able to advise customers from many industries on machining and quickly determine the price of machining the parts you order - our expertise is at your disposal.