Cutting aluminum, which bits or flutes to use?

So I’m really loving my MPCNC! I’m really starting to get into the different software and figuring out which one to use (ESTLCAM, Meshcam, VCarve, etc) but I just love the machine! It’s a whole new world coming from the additive 3dprinting world now to the subtractive world! And I haven’t even touched the laser or did that yet!

So I’ve done plenty of wood tests,etc but now I’m starting to play with aluminum and I’ll admit I’m a noob when it comes to this stuff even though I grew up in my grandfather’s shop and grew up on the mill and lathe but all his tooling was already there! :wink:

I just bought some cheapies on Amazon to get me started but playing around with SLOOOOO feed rates and RPM (I have the DW660 hookup up to an infinite RPM power supply) i tried different spindle speeds and found that slow is better but still broke the bits (3 in total) so I gave up.

I’m curious what others are running here without coolant. I’m not looking for speed. Just a nice cut.

Thanks!

Have you successfully milled wood, and plastic?

 

Exactly what bits are you using? How big is your machine? To slow or shallow is just as bad as too deep or too fast.

There is not an exact number for all machines, There are exact numbers for ideal chip load, but without exact spindle control it is not that simple (coming soon I hope).

I have already cut and milled tons of wood (hard and soft) and different types of HDPE, nylon and other stuff as well with these bits here.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IY54MXY

Again, I bought these and a few others right before I was done building the unit so I’d have something to use right away. I’ll admit I’m no pro so I’m looking for advice on bits or flutes. Someone on there (Amazon post) said this…

Answer:
No, not suitable for cutting aluminum. Try onsrud. By R. Acklin on August 31, 2015
They can cut aluminum fine. The only "issue" I've seen with them is that they are very prone to snapping when side loaded - However, this should not be taken as a slam on the vendor, these are very small mills and cannot take much (if any) abuse.
Anyways, my unit is a 24x24x7 and is super rigid. Built with 1" .065 polished stainless from IMS and I printed all the parts on my Markforge unit! ;-)
I'm just looking for some advice on bits,etc what everyone else is running.
Thanks!

That is just it, it is not that simple. I ask the questions because they are all important. If it was that easy I would have a chart and a bit selection and exact specs.

7" is actually really tall. 3" is average and more than twice as rigid ever little bit counts in metal…

The bit you have is a burr with some sort of coating, there are 4 types of Titanium that is used never just plain most coatings are not a good idea for this type of machine. You should be using a single flute upcutting endmill. The burr is kinda more of a grinding bit, you want less flutes to use with your dewalt, so it can take a bigger bite and have time to get the chip out of the way before it comes back around and re-cuts the chip. The chip should carry the heat out with it. Aluminum on this scale typically doesn’t need cooling.

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That’s awesome! Exactly the type of work I want to do! So again, is there a good source or link for recommended bits for our units (1/8 & 1/4")?

Thanks again for the all the advice and input!

 

Done and done! thanks! We’ll see how this goes!

Glad this thread popped up - I have a related question about plunge and feedrate. Details below.

I’ve been using the 1/8" single flute Ryan sells on the site to mill aluminum over the past couple of days - it works. I’m taking it very slow however. I have a DW 660 and am milling 1/8" 6061 aluminum sheets. I’m probably being conservative here but have it set at .5mm plunge and 5 mm/s feedrate.

Interested in what plunge/feedrates others are using for a similar setup and whether or not folks are using trochoidal milling.

Thanks in advance - happy to provide additional details if needed!

 

Couple additional points. My machine is 2x2 with 3.5" Z axis movement

Hey Cap,

I’ve been trying to use ESTLCAM but I’m finding the learning curve difficult to say the least on the GUI portion when you load up a STL or pic and start using it which is why I’ve been playing with MeshCam and Vcarve. At the very least have a decent undo or ctrl-z!!

Anyways, here’s what I had programmed into MeshCam for my latest aluminum test…

 

 

Thanks, looks like your depth of cut setting is the same (I’m using mm/s). For your feed and plunge rates are those in/min?

 

One thing I like about MeshCam is you just click MM or INCH and it just switches instantly!! Here’s what it looks like in mm…

 

EDIT: Again, I’m no pro when it comes to milling to machining so I’m just playing and learning this one step at a time!

 

You should ask Kevin Lopez about those figures. He is undoubtedly the one who masters the aluminum cutting on MPCNC the most.

Actually, I think his settings should be posted in the “how to” section, given how they produce perfect and reliable results.

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The videos I linked have his settings in the description. The are what work for his machine and have been tuned over probably hundreds of parts.

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Great idea! I just finished reading thru that post, a ton of great info in there. Putting his videos and the final estlcam settings he’s using would be very helpful. Also would be important to highlight the size of his machine which helps him achieve the rigidity necessary to run at those speeds.

I took all of the settings from the videos but couldn’t find the plunge speed? Any help there from Kevin Lopez or someone else who knows would be much appreciated!

I have been summoned! Seeing all the aluminum related questions makes me think a write up really is necessary. @Ryan, so where would I go about making it? Should I make a new thread and you will move it accordingly?

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Sweet, if you want to give it a try I made you an author. You can log in and make a new post, don’t publish it though save it as a draft and we can work through it. If it is complicated you can just make a new thread and I can cut paste, I think.

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Got my bits from V1!! So now I’m ready to test this, any advice or RPM/speed settings? I’d “assume” slow and steady to start right?

Now we’re cooking!! I’m just trying to figure out a good rpm and feed/plunge rate!!

 

What a dream to be cutting thick T6 Aluminum with a CNC at home!!!

https://youtu.be/RkzifHA8DRI

Yeah buddy!