Great article on cutting aluminum with a CNC router (yes, router, not mill)

By the way, among the great tips in the article is some “infomercial” type pitch for the great software he offers for calculation of feeds and speeds. I bought the software calculator from him, and the results have been great.

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Yea, aluminum is doable with the right settings. Mild steel has also been done, but that’s suuuuuper pushing it.

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Good to hear!

Do you have any plans to do a YouTube review of G Wizard Calculator?

I’m winging CNC milling at the moment, so the software does seem appealing.

It certainly seems like a bit of an investment though!

I will certainly consider it.

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I wouldn’t do it again. The router spins waaaay too fast. Even with the single flute I used.


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@jjwharris
Also, wanted to mention, I think that the guy behind the G-Wizard Calculator has some videos out there that could be a help. I seem to remember watching some before I bought the tool.

I’ve cut lots of aluminum and found that chip clearance is vital, especially on a less rigid machine. I like a 5mm or 1/4" single flute upcut. Also, the alloy and temper are important – 3003 is better than 6063 for example (if only they could all act like 360 brass . . . sigh).

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Do you do anything for chip clearance besides a combination of bit selection, speeds and feeds, and choice of metal type? Like attached air blast? Coolant? I don’t have any setup for air blast and would not know what’s best to get for coolant, let alone how to combine air and coolant for the “misting” that was mentioned in the article. And I’m on such a budget constraint now I can only attempt with the stock of aluminum I already had on hand before the hyper inflation started. I checked today on the best “metals depot” site I know for ordering, and a 1/4" thick slab of aluminum at 4’x10’ (or such) was well over $1000. 4’x8’ was almost $1000. Wow. I’m not good with remembering the numbers of which kind of alloy, but it seems like was 300x (3001? 3003?).

My only attempt at cutting aluminum was with a 1/8" single flute upcut bit, and it had to be 1/8" because of of the size of holes and details I was aiming for, and I had serious problem with recut chips getting “welded” to the bit. These were carbide (supposedly) but affordable. I ruined several trying to get done.

Vacuum helps. It’s both airblast and physical removal of the chips. I’ve not used collant on any of my stuff. Would be really hard on the mdf spoil boards.

Ended up having too many voids in it.

Also done on one of the machines that caused the lowrider to be designed.

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Do yourself a solid and get the single flute short endmills from the v1 shop next time you place an order if you’re going to use 1/8. You can also find them on eBay…Kyocera is the brand. They are absolute tanks. When i started learning, i could weld chips to them, bury them in aluminum, and stall out the steppers,peel the aluminum out of the flutes with pliers and send it back to work like nothing happened. Also abused some on mild steel for a while.

I found that gwizard was a bit complex for anything I wanted to do, or maybe I was too lazy to learn it.
For a one off job, all I care about is finishing, and not TOO slow (did I get that from Jeff? I forget). Definitely doesn’t need to be optimized. And if I’m doing enough jobs that i need to optimize, i can work up to it.

I’ve had something like 6 or 7 v1 cnc builds, and cut aluminum with varying degrees of success on all of them. When I’m dialing it in now, i start with 0.001 in/tooth at full rip (so 27ipm with my 611 at 27k rpm and that single flute), at about 0.04"DOC. Increase the feed rate until I get uncomfortable, then start going deeper until i get problems and back off a little. This is backwards from wood and mdf where deeper is better, because of the evacuation importance Paul mentioned.
Avoid slotting when you can, but where you have to try to create an entry point by drilling or at least boring, take shallower passes, and add a rough pass (so at least two total on each depth) for the slot to get extra room for clearance. I can usually get about 1/8 deep on a 1/8 endmill before i need to plan this extra clearance.

Here is a video of some clamps i cut out of 1/4in aluminum on a smaller, more rigid, primo.

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Trochoidal cuts help if you have to slot. They take forever though.

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Short video on trochoidal cuts

Yes, I think the most important thing when cutting aluminium ist trochoidal cutting and that definitely has to be in that list!

You can easily go to 1x or 1,5x tool diameter DOC without having too much cutting force.
Even on my oversized flimsy Primo.
Estlcam does a great job on this

Without trochoidal cutting I always lost steps and/or ruined the workpiece.

Here a video.

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