Aluminum Alloys for CNC Machining

cnc milling

There are numerous aluminum alloys for CNC machining. In addition, they are widely used in various industries due to their excellent properties and machinability. Machinability refers to the ease with which a material can be cut, drilled, or shaped using machining processes. Also, different aluminum alloys exhibit varying degrees of machinability, depending on their composition and microstructure. Let’s explore some of the commonly used aluminum alloys and their machinability characteristics.

Overview of some common aluminum alloys and they processing characteristics

(1 is bad – 4 is excellent)

Alloy Formability Weldability Machining Corrosion resistance Heat Treatment Strength
1100 4 4 3 4 No 1
2011 3 1 4 1 YES 4
2024 3 1 2 1 YES 4
3003 4 4 3 3 NO 3
5052 3 3 2 4 NO 3
6061 3 3 3 4 YES 3
6063 3 3 2 3 YES 3
7075 1 1 2 2 YES 4

| Aluminum 6061

Aluminum 6061 is our standard aluminum alloy for CNC machining. More specific It is a popular choice for CNC machining components in various industries. Moreover, it offers a good balance of strength, machinability, and corrosion resistance, making it suitable for a wide range of applications. With Silicon and Magnesium it is suitable for extrusion as well. The mechanical properties of 6061 aluminum alloy differ based on how it is heat treated, or made stronger using the tempering process. Anodizing 6061 aluminum results in a very nice surface finish.

| Aluminum 6082

Aluminium 6082 is a medium strength alloy with excellent corrosion resistance. Alloy 6082 is known as a structural alloy. As a relatively new alloy, the higher strength of 6082  compared to its weight has seen it replace 6061 in many applications. Aluminum grade 6082 is slightly harder than 6061, but grade 6082 is also slightly more brittle. As a result, it is difficult to produce thin walled, complicated extrusion shapes in alloy 6082. The extruded surface finish is not as smooth as other similar strength aluminum alloys in the 6000 series.

| Aluminum 2024

2024 aluminum is an alloy that is often used in the aerospace industry. It is a high-strength alloy suitable for manufacturing of components requiring a high strength-to-weight ratio and excellent fatigue resistance. As such, it is primarily found in wing and fuselage structures that frequently come under tension. 2024 aluminum is heat-treatable aluminum alloy with copper as the primary alloying element. It is malleable when in the fully soft, annealed temper and can be heat-treated to high strength levels after forming

| Aluminum 7075

Type 7075 aluminum is often used in the aerospace, automotive and high-performance industry, which has increased concern for fatigue failure. To clarify, this alloy withstands cyclical stress very well. In addition, this alloy has a very good strength to weight ratio. However, it can be more challenging to process 7075 aluminum by CNC machining compared to other alloys due to its hardness.

| Aluminum 5052

5052 aluminum is stronger than other popular alloys and has excellent corrosion resistance. Because of  these characteristics, 5052 aluminum finds its application in the marine industry as well as in electronics and chemical applications for the manufacturing of electronic enclosures, marine equipment, medical equipment, hydraulic tubes and electronic chassis. This alloy is not heat treatable and has average machinability.

| Aluminum 6063

This alloy is also called architectural Aluminum. Aluminum 6063 is good for forming and cold working operations such as extrusions. In addition, it is perfect for anodizing because of its smooth surface, and has fair characteristics for machining. 6063 aluminum alloy is heat treatable, weld-able, good at resisting corrosion and easily formed. It is typically used in pipe, railing, furniture, and decorative materials.