CNC Aluminum Prototype Manufacturing Complete Guide

Compare Materials, Processing, Surface Finishing

Properties of Aluminium

Aluminum alloy is the most commonly used material for CNC processing. It has a comparatively good performance, easy to process, and can also be used for various surface treatments.

CNC processed aluminum alloy can be used in mechanical equipment, sports equipment, aerospace, automotives, ships, and communication optical equipment , Medical equipment, robotics and other fields. 

There are hundreds of types of aluminum alloy.

First of all, there are multiple kinds of aluminum alloy, and the material properties of different model series are different.

The commonly used series of CNC machining aluminum alloys are 2 series, 5 series, 6 series and 7 series, such as 2017, 2024, 5052, 5083, 6061, 6063, 7075 and so on. Secondly, the same model also has different proterties, such as F for free processing, O for annealing, H for work hardening, W for solution heat treatment, and T for heat treatment, such as 2024-T351, 6061-T651, etc.

Different models and different conditions have different application fields.

For example, 2024 can be used for aircraft structures, truck hubs, propellers and other components, and 5052 is mostly thin plates, which have good forming performance and corrosion resistance. They are used to make aircraft fuel tanks 6061 is the most commonly used sheet metal parts in various fields such as vehicles, ships, instruments, brackets, and medical equipment. It has high strength, weldability and corrosion resistance, and can be used in automobiles, buildings, ships, furniture, and mechanical parts. , Robotics, aerospace and other fields.

Aluminum 6061-T6
Aluminum 6061-T6 is corrosion-resistant, with good strength and uniformity. Among aluminum parts, 6061-t6 is mainly used for material processing, which is not easy to deform and has almost no tolerance problems. During the processing of aluminum parts, good post-oxidation treatment effects can be achieved.
Aluminum 7075

The aluminum 7075 aluminum plate is Al-Zn-Mg-Cu. Good series of super duralumin. It has good mechanical properties and wear resistance and can be easily processed. Aluminum parts processing also has good anodic oxidation treatment, but also has anti-corrosion and anti-oxidation properties. 7075 aluminum is a typical material used in the aviation industry with complex structure and high precision.

Aluminum 2024

Aluminum 2024 has high heat resistance, impact resistance and fatigue resistance, so it is used in military and aerospace applications.

Aluminum 5052

Aluminum 5052 has strong chemical resistance and corrosion resistance. It is not heat-treatable, so it can be used in marine applications.

Aluminum 6063

Aluminum 6063: It is a heat-treatable alloy with high weldability and durability, and can be used to manufacture complex parts.

Application of aluminum products

A large number of products in all walks of life are made of aluminum. One of the most common is the electronics industry.
Products manufactured include industrial control enclosures, radiators and frames, notebook computers or mobile phone bodies, etc.
Even seemingly small components, such as volume buttons, are often made of aluminum. Apple’s computers, notebooks, and mobile phones are all made of aluminum.

The aerospace and defense industry also purchases aluminum parts, such as radar panels or housings for structural components.
In addition, the automotive industry relies on aluminum processing to mass-produce automotive parts such as panels, interiors, and hardware.

Prototype makers also rely on aluminum to make prototypes. Because aluminum are easy to process, and when the life of the mold is not critical, manufacturing aluminum molds can save a lot of time compared to making molds from hardened steel.

The advantages of aluminum prototype

1. The aluminum parts not only has the characteristics of light weight and good strength, but also has a better appearance after oxidation treatment.

2. The density of aluminum alloy is low but the strength is relatively high. It is close to or exceeds that of high-quality steel. It has good plasticity and can be processed into various profiles. It has excellent electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity and corrosion resistance. It is widely used in industry and its usage is second only to steel.

3. The aluminum prototype can accurately reflect the information expressed in the drawings, and the surface quality of the CNC prototype is high, especially after the surface spraying and screen printing are completed, it is even more glamorous than the product produced after the mold is opened.

Aluminum Parts
Aluminum Parts

Aluminum Prototype processing

1. Programming: compile the processing program according to the 3D drawings provided by the customer.

2. CNC processing: Processing is carried out by CNC processing equipment according to the program written by the programmer, and the material is made into the prototype of the product.

3. Polishing: The hand plate that has just been processed from the machine will have many knife marks and edges on the surface, which needs to be polished with sandpaper.

4. Sand blasting: The effect of spraying a layer of sand on the surface of the prototype makes the prototype samples look more high-end and perfect.

5. Oxidation: Let the surface of the prototype undergo oxidation reaction to form a layer of film, making the product difficult to scratch.

6. Quality inspection: The aluminum alloy box prototype can be packaged and shipped after being tested by the QC department without any problems.

Aluminum Parts Surface Finishing

aluminum part

After CNC machining, the aluminum prototype needs to go through a series of surface treatments to obtain a bright and beautiful prototype model. So what surface treatment effects does the aluminum alloy prototype have?

1. Sand Blasting: The main function is surface cleaning. The front sandblasting can increase the surface roughness, which is good for improving the adhesion. Sandblasting can be divided into coarse sand and fine sand. Commonly used are 120 mesh and 100 mesh.

2. Conductive oxidation: Aluminum parts have certain anti-corrosion and conductivity after conductive oxidation. Electronic equipment is used for hand boards. Aluminum conductive oxidation can prevent electromagnetic signal interference.

3. Anodizing: Anodizing is a method that uses the principle of electrolysis to form an oxide film on the surface of the hand plate to increase the corrosion resistance and make the appearance beautiful.

4. Powder Coating: also called electrostatic powder spraying. The advantages of this technology are embodied in advanced technology, energy saving, high efficiency, safety and reliability, and bright colors. Its working principle is to charge the plastic powder through a high-voltage electrostatic device. Under the action of an electric field, the paint is sprayed on the surface of the workpiece, and the powder will be uniformly absorbed on the surface of the workpiece to form a powdery coating.

5. Electroplating: Use the workpiece as the cathode and the material that forms the coating as the anode. Put both in the tank with the electroplating solution, and then apply direct current or alternating and direct current to ionize the material that forms the coating and remove it from the electroplating solution. A method of running to the surface of the workpiece and firmly attaching to it to form a coating of different thicknesses.

Aluminum prototypes are mostly used for Anodizing (mostly natural oxidation), Powder Coating (rich colors, high quality and low price, most used), electrophoresis (mainly shiny K gold, K silver, champagne), Thermal transfer (mainly wood grain transfer, showing wood texture, good-looking).

The surface treatment of the aluminum alloy hand plate is ultimately to enhance the surface hardness and wear resistance of the aluminum alloy, expand its application range, and extend the service life. The surface treatment has become an indispensable part of the use of aluminum alloy. Anodizing is the current aluminum alloy hand plate. The most common application.

RpProto's aluminum processing capabilities

RpProto has 80 precision 3, 4, and 5-axis CNC machines, and high-speed machines with smaller cutters. We can produce parts such as housings and parts with high-quality machining surfaces and fine details. We can produce parts with strict tolerances to provide services for the aerospace and medical industries. We also use sophisticated tool holders and tools to ensure the best precision and accuracy. We can deliver your project to you faster.

RpProto provides a variety of methods to combine CNC machining with other manufacturing processes to produce more complex parts in large quantities. These process combinations can maximize the function of aluminum while still enjoying the benefits of other production processes.

We hope that our CNC Aluminum Prototyping Manufacturing Guide will provide you with the information you need. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us.

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