Cutting Aluminium

Hey guys and gals I have started to experiment with cutting aluminium and wanted to see if anyone else has tried it. It is working out fairly well so far with what I have done. My process is to try to get the aluminium as close to the gantry as possible so the gantry is at it’s most rigid. So far I have used a 1/8" diameter 3 flute endmill and also a 1/4" 2 flute endmill. I use a router speed controller on my Dewalt 660 from Harbor Freight to slow the spindle down to about half. I still get a little squeaking and squelching sometimes but it seems that both bits like the half speed. When I use the 1/8" cutter my depth of cut is either 0.010" or 0.015" and the feed rate is at 15 in/min. When I use the 1/4" cutter my depth of cut is 0.020" and the feed rate is at 15 in/min. I have only cut 0.050" and 0.063" thick material so far and it is 2024-T3 alloy. I will post some pictures later but, I wanted to hear from everyone else on what their process is and any other tips I can learn. One thing that I am finding is that when I want to leave tabs on a piece I am getting a lot of vibration when the tool is plunging into the material (plunge feed is 13 in/mm). Let me know what you guys have done and I will post the pictures soon.

Some bits are not meant for plunging, you can also peck plunge. It goes in and out at increasing increments, or ramp in.

Stick with a short 1/8" bit single or dual flute. 3 and 4 flute is no good. Have a look into chip load. You could very well just be work hardening the material.

I have a video showing my typical aluminum set up before the machine updates so it should be even more rigid/faster now.

As promised here are a few photos of the pieces I have been working on.

Those cuts look amazing.

Have you seen the video where they use a cnc and a dremel with a wire brush to brush in a pattern on the metal? It looks like it could be useful to you. I don’t remember where I saw it, it might have been a user. Not sure but it was on you tube I’ll try and find it.

Looks like he went a little too deep or to high of rpms, but you get the idea.

Thank you. I did the swirls with a circular scotch brite pad and my drill press before I cut the pieces out. That is pretty cool with the dremel. I couldn’t come up with a way to do the swirls I wanted with the CNC machine. I thought about just doing some drill patterns and lie to the machine and say the tool was a drill bit. Also with using the scotch brite pad you need to dwell on the spot for about 3 seconds or so to swirl and cover the previous swirls. It was fairly quick and easy to do it by hand.