CNC Machining Parts Manufacturing: Materials for CNC Project

CNC Machining

The practice of CNC machining parts is not new. With today’s technological breakthroughs in machining, a wide variety of superior metal alloys including superalloys, and CNC machining, it is more common than ever. From in-house machining services to outsourced manufacturers to cutting-edge on-demand CNC machining ecosystems, there is a broad range of CNC machining suppliers. CNC machining is adaptable in that it may be used for a wide range of tasks, including small-scale manufacturing, high-volume production as well as hobby applications and prototype machining. It provides exceptional quality, high precision, and low manual work.

When deciding to create CNC machining parts, there are a number of details to be specified, including the material choice, tolerance requirements, geometric restrictions, post-processing processes, and quality inspection standards. Material selection is arguably one of the hardest constraints to define because of the complexity of interactions between metals and their environment, how they respond to loads placed on them, and the wide variety of excellent material options available to engineers. As a result, choosing a CNC material might be difficult. Despite the fact that metal CNC projects could be more frequent, this article will cover the most typical CNC materials, including plastic.

An illustration of the stages to take in the material selection process for your next CNC machining parts project is shown below:

  • Ascertain the specifications for the intended usage of the material:
    environmental circumstances
    Thermal exposure and heat loss
    criteria for conductivity or magnetic
    criteria for mechanical loading (strength)
    Surface quality specifications
    Budget or price
    Desired Weight Manufacturing Method for the Geometry
  • Compile a probable list of materials based on the aforementioned limits and consider the following in light of design constraints like budget:
    Weight vs. price
    Weight vs. strength
    Cost versus lead time
    Supply versus manufacturing process
  • Base your material choice on the most crucial material specifications and design limitations. to be weighed

Consider the infographics in each section, which provide a general comparison based on machinability, environmental resistance, and tensile strength, to get started choosing the right material for your specific product design: information on density based on alloys that manufacturing partners can machine.

Option One: Stainless Steel

In the realm of stainless steel, a myriad of alloys awaits your selection. Noteworthy choices for CNC machining encompass 304, 316, 416, and 17-4 PH. Stainless steel, renowned for its robustness and inherent protective oxide layer, proves ideal for hostile environments. The alloying elements give rise to diverse stainless steel grades. For instance, the infusion of molybdenum into 316 stainless steel augments its corrosion resistance, while sulfur in 303 stainless steel enhances its machinability.

Stainless steel alloys find applications across a wide spectrum, from consumer goods to industrial settings, heavy machinery, surgical instruments, kitchen appliances, aerospace, military equipment, and automotive components. For CNC machining parts demanding exceptional strength and dependability, such as shafts, gears, bolts, nuts, and fittings, stainless steel is a preferred choice.

Machining stainless steel is well-trodden terrain, and most machine shops possess extensive expertise in configuring equipment for successful, high-quality CNC machining of this material.

Option Two: Aluminum

The versatile utilization of aluminum has recently expanded into various industries, including the creation of lightweight pickup truck frames and rocket components. Aluminum, with its superb machinability, lightweight attributes, strength, and impressive corrosion resistance, is an excellent choice for CNC machining parts. Furthermore, aluminum alloys demonstrate notable thermal and electrical conductivity, rendering them suitable for thermal management and electronic applications.

When deciding between stainless steel and aluminum for creating CNC machining parts, cost and the specific application are pivotal considerations. Opt for aluminum when weight is a paramount concern, as it boasts a weight advantage.

Aerospace, automotive, cookware, medical, and consumer product industries frequently employ aluminum alloys. It’s a favored material for casting and brazing, although it’s important to note that aluminum isn’t always weldable. Additionally, post-processing or finishing may be necessary for certain aluminum CNC projects.

Option Three: Titanium

Titanium has ushered in a revolution across various industries, offering solutions to formidable challenges in manufacturing. Titanium alloys are known for their toughness, strength, relative lightness, and resistance to corrosion. Being the most noble of metals, titanium excels in aggressive environments where other metals falter.

The medical industry has embraced titanium due to its biocompatibility, employing titanium alloys in medical equipment and implantable components like screws and devices. These innovative alloys also find extensive use in aerospace, industrial, and military sectors, providing superior strength, creep resistance, and impeccable metallurgical properties. In comparison to aluminum, titanium is approximately twice as strong but only a little over half as dense.

Titanium is also a favorite in the consumer product sector, with lightweight golf clubs being just one example of its application.

Option Four: Copper

Copper stands as an exceptional conductor of electricity and heat, second only to silver in these domains. While pure copper (commercially about 99% pure) poses challenges for CNC machining parts manufacturing due to its malleability at lower temperatures and high ductility, numerous copper alloys offer ease of machining and comparable, if not superior, thermal and electrical properties.

Copper alloy 101, purer in composition, suits applications requiring high ductility, impact strength, and thermal/electrical conductivity, though it lacks corrosion resistance. Electronic components, wiring, and electrical parts like busbars benefit from Copper 101.

Copper alloy 110, slightly less pure, offers the highest level of electrical and thermal conductivity among copper alloys. It also boasts improved corrosion resistance. Applications for Copper 110 span superconductor magnets, gaskets, electrical components, jewelry, marine hardware, building materials, and vacuum equipment.

Option Five: Brass

Brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, shares some properties with copper, including durability, ease of machining, corrosion resistance, electrical conductivity, and a low coefficient of friction. This versatile alloy is suitable for diverse applications, encompassing CNC machining parts manufacturing of plumbing, electrical, artistic, and medical domains.

360 Brass, renowned for its exceptional machinability, is often referred to as free-machining brass. It offers excellent corrosion resistance and strength, making it ideal for manufacturing screw machine parts, heavy industrial components, consumer products, musical instruments, electrical components, and plumbing fittings.

Options Six and Seven: Alloy Steel and Carbon Steel

In the realm of steel alloys, low carbon steel emerges as one of the most budget-friendly and widely employed choices to make CNC machining parts. As the name suggests, carbon steel primarily consists of carbon as an alloying element, taking second place in composition after iron. Low carbon steel features a diminished carbon content (0.05-0.25%), endowing it with increased ductility and weldability. However, it lacks the heat treatability found in high carbon steels, which can enhance hardness. Low carbon steels are comparatively amenable to make CNC machining parts. Alloys like 1018 steel find utility in a diverse array of applications, from motor shafts, pump shafts, pins, sprockets, spindles, fixtures, mounting plates to even hobbyist components. On the other hand, medium carbon steel, known for its strength, can undergo induction hardening. Alloys like AISI 1045 medium carbon steel are well-suited for demanding tasks such as bolts, studs, and shafts.

Alloy steel, distinct from carbon steel, doesn’t feature carbon as its primary alloying element alongside iron. Alloy steel is marked by its enhanced corrosion resistance, weldability, heat resistance, and ductility, although it falls short in sheer strength compared to carbon steel. A crucial demarcation exists between low and high alloy steels, with the dividing line set at up to eight percent alloying elements and greater than eight percent alloying elements, respectively. Alloy steels essentially build upon the foundation of carbon steels by incorporating approximately 20 different alloying elements. For instance, low alloy steel 4130 incorporates molybdenum and chromium to bolster hardenability and wear resistance, while 4140 alloy steel features chromium, molybdenum, and manganese to enhance strength at high temperatures, torsional strength, and wear resistance. Industrial applications widely employ alloy steels, but they’re also found in everyday items like appliances, silverware, cooking utensils, and automobiles.

Option Eight: Plastics for CNC Machining Parts Manufacturing

Plastics represent a vast category of synthetic and semi-synthetic materials primarily composed of polymers. When it comes to plastic CNC machining parts, an array of excellent options are at your disposal. Some plastics, such as HDPE, exhibit resistance to chemicals, electrical insulation properties, and resistance to moisture. Nylon is well-suited for its resistance to friction wear and chemical exposure, while PEEK stands out for its lightweight nature and resistance to moisture, chemicals, and wear. PEEK can even serve as a material alternative of CNC machining parts for most soft metals. Polycarbonate ranks among the most commonly used plastics in machining due to its impressive heat and impact resistance.

Plastic CNC machining parts are favored for their lightweight attributes and relatively lower costs. They find applications in bearings, chemically resistant enclosures, laboratory equipment, screws, electrical components, and medical devices.

For more related information, please read the following resources, or request a quote, get in touch with Sungplastic’s experts and engineers, and communicate about CNC machining parts design and manufacturing.
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