Advanced Aluminum Machining Techniques

Aluminum is among the most common metals on earth. The material is extracted from bauxite via a smelting process, in its pure form aluminum is silvery white in color and very lightweight. Pure aluminum in itself is far too soft for it to be of much use but it has the ability to readily blend with other alloys to become very strong. The material is a very good conductor of heat and electricity and is non-magnetic. Aluminum has found itself uses in almost every industry: from aerospace to automotive to medical. Aluminum is within hundreds of additional products including the pots and pans in your kitchen.

In the last five years, a number of advanced techniques for aluminum machining have emerged. These advanced techniques have come from the need to increase the rate of metal removal which by default results in minimized cycle times and reduced power consumption of machines. This focus on metal removal and high speed machining strategies has increased cutting speeds to unprecedented rates. Just as important, it has been possible for machine shops to reduce set-up times by combining the roughing operation and the finishing operation in one pass.

These developments in aluminum machining have had significant positive impact on the aerospace industry where the demands for safety in flight keep getting higher and higher. For example, the wall surface quality of a machined part must be free from any machine pass mismatches.

For safety reasons, there can be no mismatches in the tool path in the aerospace industry. Steps along the wall surface of the component can lead to strain concentrations that can potentially lead to a crack forming. To eliminate steps, it is necessary to rough the component and follow this operation with a finish cut. This means two operations must be done simultaneously using extremely sophisticated tools. Not only does the simultaneous operation eliminate tools steps, it shortens the manufacturing process considerably as it virtually eliminates a second set-up.

New aluminum machining techniques also demand improvements in cooling and tool cutters must be polished to eliminate the possibility of material build-up from the chips. Coolant must be pointed directly at the cutting edge as high rotational speeds used in modern machining can keep the coolant from where it is needed due to centrifugal forces.

RAMP Engineering uses the most modern and up to date CNC machines and cutting processes to ensure perfect parts for demanding industries. In addition to aluminum machining; RAMP Engineering machines titanium, brass, plastic, steel and other materials.

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