CNC machining is a highly versatile method of producing parts. It is a computerized manufacturing technique that controls the movements of production equipment using pre-programmed software and code. This method includes a range of intricate manufacturing machinery — such as lathes and mills — which are used to cut, shape, and create various components and prototypes.
One of the most preferred materials for CNC machining is steel. However, selecting the best option for specific applications can take time and effort, especially with such a large selection of steel alloys. To determine the most suitable steel, it is crucial to consider its machinability, hardness, allowable heat inputs, and the surface finishes it offers.
Benefits of Using Steel for CNC Machining
Steel is one of the most difficult materials to work with, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges because it offers a good balance between cost and functionality. However, significant knowledge and experience are required to produce consistent results when machining steel components.
Here are some benefits that steel offers for CNC machining:
- High corrosion resistance
- Excellent fatigue, tensile, and yield strength
- Good resistance to abrasion and wear
- Superior thermal and electrical conductivity
Types of Steel Used for CNC Machining
There are numerous steel alloys to take into account, but here are the top seven steel types used for CNC machining:
This is one of the most readily available and highly machinable of all austenitic stainless steel grades, with good corrosion resistance and a reasonable price. Heat treatment cannot harden it, but it is commonly applied in electronic hardware, nuts and bolts, screws, aircraft fittings, and bushings.
This type has excellent machining properties, moderate corrosion resistance, and high strength. It is suitable for manufacturing valves, pumps, shafts, and gears. However, it is incompatible with chlorine or marine environments due to its poor weldability and limited availability.
This standard stainless steel alloy has good corrosion resistance, weldability, and machinability. It comes at a reasonable price and is suitable for food handling, utensils, automotive parts, and architectural applications. However, this steel is susceptible to stress corrosion cracking in some applications above 60 °C.
SS Grade 17-4
This martensitic precipitation-hardened stainless steel has up to 30% chromium content. It has exceptionally high toughness, strength, and corrosion resistance, but it must be heat treated carefully and efficiently. SS Grade 17-4 applies to nuclear reactors, aircraft turbines, and oil and gas applications.
This is a versatile medium carbon steel alloy with good strength, toughness, weldability, and machinability. Although it may require post-heat treatment to relieve stress, it is suitable for wear-resistant applications, such as axles, bolts, light gears, and forged connecting rods.
This steel is the best option for carburized parts as it has excellent weldability and machinability with moderate strength and flexibility. It is commonly used in tie rods, spindles, anchor pins, and machinery parts.
This resulfurized carbon steel has high strength, hardness, and resistance to wear and deformation. Despite its poor weldability, it is used in gears, pistons, screws, nuts, and rods.
Considerations When Choosing a CNC Machining Steel Manufacturer
Knowing which steel alloy to use can only get you so far. You must still find and select the best service provider to cater to your project requirements. Here are four factors to consider when choosing a CNC machining steel manufacturer:
Certifications and Licenses
Precision CNC machine manufacturers are required by law to file their businesses with the state. This entails registering their business before receiving a license. Remember to look for a manufacturer with the necessary certifications and authorizations to produce high-quality products that meet your industry’s regulations.
Another effective way to find a good manufacturer is to look at their background. An experienced partner is more likely to understand your manufacturing process. Thus, they can develop customized precision CNC machines and services tailored to your needs.
Reasonable Price Offering
Prices for services provided by various manufacturers may differ. Companies that offer low-cost services may have inexperienced employees and poor service, whereas manufacturers with exorbitant fees may take advantage of you. Find a partner willing to work within your budget without compromising quality standards.
The reputation of a precision CNC service provider is based on its interactions with past clients. Only work with manufacturers with overwhelmingly positive reviews that attest to their reliability and excellent customer service.
ProCam Services: The Leading Provider of Quality Machined Components
ProCam Services offers high-quality CNC machining steel services. Our cutting-edge full-service machine shop, state-of-the-art equipment, and industry experience ensure that we will get the job done for you. Apart from machining, we also provide tool and die services, fabrication, a wide range of specialty coatings and finishes, and custom materials for conveyor systems and special machines.
Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer!
CNC machining is a combination of traditional and modern manufacturing techniques. This process uses a computer numerical control or CNC system to effortlessly cut and shape materials into objects. Without CNC machining, processing materials into intricately shaped and detailed components would be tough to achieve. Moreover, a CNC machine reaches an extremely high level of precision compared to manual labor, and it does this consistently and accurately, despite multiple repetitions of the process.
Using Aluminum for CNC Machining
Among all materials used for CNC machining, aluminum is among the best options. It is highly machinable, inexpensive, and three or four times faster to machine than steel or titanium. In addition, this material possesses excellent flexibility and an impressive strength-to-weight ratio, making it an ideal choice for making exterior skin panels for vehicles on land, air, and water.
Other advantages of using aluminum for CNC machining include the following:
- Excellent corrosion resistance
- Outstanding electrical conductivity
- Resistance to low temperatures
- Great potential for surface finishing and anodization
What Types of Aluminum Are Used for CNC Machining?
On its own, aluminum is too weak for commercial use. So, to achieve strength, pure molten aluminum is combined with copper, lithium, magnesium, manganese, silicon, and zinc to form an alloy and enhance aluminum’s other properties.
Three common alloys are used in aluminum CNC machining: cast aluminum, aluminum lithium, and wrought aluminum alloys.
Cast Aluminum Alloy
Cast aluminum alloys are affordable, lightweight, versatile, and durable and perform well under high temperatures. This alloy is famously used in the automotive industry for engine parts, housing, steering columns, and structural support.
Cast aluminum alloys are inexpensive to produce because they possess a low melting point and can easily be shaped. However, it does have a lower tensile strength, is not as easy to machine, and is more hard-wearing on cutting tools.
Aluminum Lithium Alloy
The second aluminum alloy used for aluminum CNC machining is aluminum lithium alloy. This alloy is primarily used in aerospace manufacturing due to its lightweight nature, making it the prime choice for lower wing skins, inner wing structures, fuselages, and fan blades for aerial vehicles. Aluminum lithium alloys are also used for race cars and space rockets.
The downside to using aluminum lithium alloys for CNC machining is it does not have a high fracture toughness. This means that when this alloy is cracked, it becomes compromised and weak to resist further cracking. Aluminum lithium alloys are also more expensive compared to cast aluminum alloys.
Wrought Aluminum Alloy
The last but best aluminum alloy for CNC machining is wrought aluminum. Wrought alloys have superior mechanical properties and structural integrity compared to cast aluminum alloys. They are also easier to machine and make for better surface finishes since they are less hard-wearing on the edges of cutting tools.
Things To Consider When Choosing a CNC Machining Aluminum Manufacturer
Getting acquainted with aluminum CNC machining is only one part of the equation; picking a suitable CNC machining aluminum manufacturer is the more crucial aspect. Choosing service providers for this task is not difficult. Here are four factors to look at when canvassing manufacturers.
Long-Term Value Return
When picking a CNC machining aluminum manufacturer, the cheapest option is not always the best. Instead, choose a service provider that offers excellent processing results and puts in the time and effort to coordinate with you to meet and surpass your expectations. This meticulousness will save you time and money, so always choose quality over plain affordability. Then, in the long run, you’ll have a partner manufacturer you can rely on to consistently deliver outstanding results.
Superior Machining Experience
Experience should be factored in when deciding which manufacturer to choose; a long experience providing excellent service is how CNC machining aluminum manufacturers earn their stripes. In addition, the time they have spent in the industry can say a lot about their products. Usually, the longer a manufacturer spends engaged in the CNC machining industry, the more they can amass the necessary skills and experience to meet high standards.
Reliable Team and Equipment
Before partnering with a machining service provider, always check if they have the equipment and facility to do the job efficiently and deliver on time without sacrificing the quality of the finished products. A manufacturer offering machining services should not only have the necessary skills but should also have machines for milling, lathe grinding, and other processing methods. The best CNC machining aluminum manufacturer should have the proper equipment to handle complex projects.
Proof of Quality Standards for Products
When choosing a CNC machining aluminum manufacturer, you should pick one that can walk the talk. This means that manufacturers must ensure that the quality of the products they have created for you is up to your standards. A few more essential things to look out for when checking the manufacturer for their quality is if they have quality control methods, including product testing.
Choose ProCam Services for Your Machining Needs!
We at ProCam Services offer the services you need for CNC machining aluminum and more. Our state-of-the-art, 38,000 sq. ft. full-service machine shop, top-of-the-line equipment, and industry experience ensures that we will get the job done.
We also have the right machining equipment to process carbon steel, stainless steel, plastics, and aluminum. Aside from machining services, we also offer tool and die services, fabrication services, a wide selection of specialty coatings and finishes, and custom components for conveyors and special machines!
Our process here at ProCam Services is simple. Our goal is to offer you peace of mind that your orders will arrive on time and with the intended quality and specifications. To this end, you may contact us to discuss project details. Next, we will provide you with a fast quote. After which, all you need to do is place your order and sit back as we finish the job for you!
To know more about us at ProCam Services L.L.C., contact us today!
Plastics’ versatility and multiple benefits make them one of the most valuable engineering materials available today. However, this does not mean you should make plastic prototypes using any machining technique. If the material and method are incompatible, the manufacturing process will not be successful and will not provide the desired results. Each material has distinct characteristics that make it ideal for a particular use.
Computer Numerical Control, or CNC machining, is one of the many alternative technologies for making prototypes. It is a computerized manufacturing process in which software and codes control the motion of production equipment, including grinders, lathes, and turning mills. These are used to cut, shape, and create various prototypes and parts.
If you use plastic material to design and manufacture parts, they should be CNC machined. There is a plethora of machinable plastic to select from for plastic machining, each with its properties and capabilities. CNC-machined plastic components make excellent prototypes and are readily available. Before machining, select the most suitable and optimal CNC machining plastic for your product.
To help you with this, here are the different CNC machining plastic and a quick look at their qualities and capabilities!
ABS is a thermoplastic polymer with strong impact resistance, low electrical conductivity, and high chemical resistance. Due to its adaptability, ABS is widely beneficial and one of the known plastic compatible with CNC machining.
Some applications where ABS is utilized are producing automobile components, toys, and sporting goods. On the other hand, while it is less expensive than other plastic materials, it is essential to note that it cannot sustain high temperatures for an extended period.
Nylon is a polyamide polymer and a strong and durable plastic used for various purposes. It has good machinability, moderate flame resistance, and high strength, among other advantages. Nylon tolerates high temperatures and is resistant to wear. In addition, it is chemically and thermally resistant and has the rigidity and strength to withstand deformation under load conditions.
These characteristics make it an excellent material for insulators, bearings, wheels, and consumer electronic enclosures. Nylon is a fantastic option for applications that require inexpensive, sturdy, and durable components.
Electrical insulation, medical devices, circuit board mounting hardware, vehicle engine compartment components, and aerospace components are the most prevalent applications for nylon. Many of these applications serve as a cost-effective substitute for metals. Additionally, glass-filled nylon is a common material that is excellent for CNC machining.
PMMA (Poly Methyl Methacrylate) plastic is acrylic’s chemical makeup, also known as Plexiglass and Luctie. PMMA is an alternative to glass and light pipes since it is durable, transparent, scratch-resistant, and impact-resistant. Additionally, it may be easily glued using acrylic cement. Other popular applications include vehicle light components, light tubes, tanks, display panels, clear enclosures, food storage containers, and lenses or other optical engineering components.
If a machined surface requires transparency, it can be polished as an additional post-processing step. Acrylic surfaces that have been machined lose their clarity and acquire a frosted, translucent appearance. As a result, it is generally advisable to indicate whether or not an acrylic component should be left at a stock thickness to preserve transparency.
HDPE is an abbreviation for high-density polyethylene. Its crystalline structure makes it naturally opaque and waxy, but it can also be dyed black. HDPE offers excellent chemical resistance, electrical insulation, and a slick surface. It has a low friction coefficient and good low-temperature impact resistance. Additionally, it is inexpensive and durable for CNC-machined plastic parts.
HDPE is used in gasoline tanks, plastic bottles, fluid pipes, and other applications. Due to its chemical resistance and slipperiness, it is ideal for producing plugs and seals, but it is also an excellent option for weight-sensitive or electrically sensitive applications.
The sole disadvantage of this material for CNC machining would be its low strength, particularly in tension and bending, making it susceptible to stress fractures.
Delrin or POM
Delrin or Polyoxymethylene (POM) is a suitable CNC machining plastic for high-friction, tight-tolerance, or stiff applications. Its reliability and durability make it popular in commercial markets. In addition, Delrin has the advantage of its superior resistance to impact, chemicals, moisture, and fatigue. Delrin is utilized in gears, bearings, bushings, fasteners, assembly jigs, automotive, construction, and electronics components.
The downside, however, is that Delrin’s slipperiness makes it difficult to glue. The material’s inherent tensions make it warp-prone in thin or asymmetrically removed portions. Overheating Delrin or POM can cause harmful off-gassing.
Polycarbonate is the most durable plastic for CNC machining. In addition, it is one of the world’s most frequently CNC-machined and recycled plastics. It is offered commercially in a black hue, despite its inherent milky-blue transparency, which is glossy.
Polycarbonate offers strong impact resistance, rigidity, and temperature stability. It is 250 times more impact-resistant than glass and more resilient than acrylic. This quality makes it suitable for robust, transparent plastic applications, such as CDs, DVDs, mobile phones, and bulletproof glass.
Additionally, pure polycarbonate is scratchable and wears quickly, which is why it is post-processed with anti-scratch coatings and vapor polishing to improve wear resistance or optical clarity.
The Bottom Line
In terms of functional qualities, many plastics can replace metals. And CNC machining is the most excellent alternative if you want to work with a challenging plastic material or produce complex prototypes with enhanced structural strength!
ProCam Services LLC can create prototypes or mass quantities of sophisticated, precision-machined components with extremely tight tolerances. We process many materials, including plastic, aluminum, and stainless steel.
We’ve been known for precisely meeting deadlines and producing high-quality work for years. Learn more about our services and capabilities by contacting us today!
Pro-Cam Services LLC. Is proud to announce the addition of a new position to our organization!
Pro-Cam Services LLC. has added a Shop Foreman to our team with over twenty years of job shop machining experience. The new Foreman position will lead the shop floor, help with increasing efficiencies, quickly solve any problems to ensure jobs stay on schedule, help with scheduling, increases on-time delivery and improving the accuracy of status updates to our customers. We are super excited about this new addition to our team!
Remember Pro-Cam Services LLC. offers fast precision machining services to a wide variety of industries. Both our FAST TRACK SERVICE and our STANDARD DELIVERY SERVICE operate on very short lead times and we can often deliver precision machined parts to you much faster than others in our industry. Try us for your rush delivery and/or prototyping needs. We also do a wide variety of made to order machining projects in both low and high quantities for a variety of industries!