Aluminum as a material is one of the first choices for machinists in CNC machining. The material has immense potential and properties such as high strength, durability, lightweight nature, ease to machine and more. With the machined parts needing to be precise and of top quality, there is no chance for compromise. There are various aluminum alloys, and choosing the right one depends on your industry and the machined part you need.

This article covers the benefits of aluminum, commonly used aluminum alloys, and their industrial applications.

Benefits of Using Aluminum for CNC Machining

Aluminum offers what other materials cannot. Therefore, it is one of the primary choices for CNC experts. Here are the benefits of aluminum machining that make it a viable option over other materials:

Aluminum is easier to manufacture.

It is a practical reason to use aluminum for your CNC machined parts. Aluminum is easier to manufacture. The equipment can get machined via punching, folding or drilling. You can use it to form any shape or type of the parts you need. Aluminum material chips easily, and it can get cut quickly with CNC machine tools. The short time frame saves time, and good machinability means minor deformation of the part.

Aluminum offers an ideal strength-to-weight ratio.

Aluminum has physical properties that make it a perfect material for CNC machining. Aluminum provides the best of both worlds, high strength and lightweight. This property makes aluminum apt for industries such as automotive and aerospace. The different grades of aluminum can get used for various purposes. Common grades such as 6061 are ideal for multiple parts, and grades such as 7075 get used in aerospace and marine applications.

Aluminum is affordable.

Most CNC experts use aluminum as it is more affordable than other materials such as zinc or copper. It is more expensive than steel. But aluminum saves money during the CNC process. So, it is a better option than most CNC materials.

Aluminum is recyclable. Reusing aluminum saves around 90% of the energy needed to manufacture the metal from scratch. When the excess material gets removed during the manufacturing process, it results in enormous waste. Recycling this waste reduces the carbon footprint and allows you to recoup the initial costs.

Corrosion resistance.

Aluminum material is nonferrous. It means the material won’t develop any rust or corrode. The most common aluminum grade 6061 is corrosion resistant. It brings the metal extra durability points as it can better withstand moisture, chemical damage, oxidation and rust.

Common aluminum alloys for CNC machining

There are various ways to categorize different types of aluminum used during CNC machining. One of them is by using the aluminum grade. Different grades have a different composition that impacts the properties of unlike aluminum alloys. The table given below highlights other aluminum alloys with the necessary factors to save your time:

Alloys Formability Weldability Machining Corrosion Resistance Heat Treating Strength
Alloy 1100 Excellent Excellent Good Excellent No Low
Alloy 2011 Good Poor Excellent Poor Yes High
Alloy 2024 Good Poor Fair Poor Yes High
Alloy 3003 Excellent Excellent Good Good No Medium
Alloy 5052 Good Good Fair Excellent No Medium
Alloy 6061 Good Good Good Excellent Yes Medium
Alloy 6063 Good Good Fair Good Yes Medium
Alloy 7075 Poor Poor Fair Average Yes High



Also Read: Selecting the Best Materials for your Machining job


Industrial Applications of Aluminum Alloys

Most industries use CNC machining aluminum. It allows them to manufacture machined parts with ease. Some of the industrial applications are below:

Aerospace industry

Aluminum alloys have excellent properties ideal for the aviation industry. The material offers a high strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance, and flexibility. Commonly used aluminum alloys in the aerospace industry are:

  • Aluminum alloy 5052
  • Aluminum alloy 2024
  • Aluminum alloy 6061


Automotive industry

Aluminum can withstand the weight and therefore is suitable for the automotive industry. This property is ideal when manufacturing body parts and components. Aluminum also helps to achieve emission reduction that results in energy saving. Commonly used aluminum alloys in the automotive industry are:

  • Aluminum alloy 6016
  • Aluminum alloy 2008
  • Aluminum alloy 5754


Marine industry

For the marine industry, non-heated alloys are ideal because they provide high corrosion resistance and the material’s ability to get welded. The marine industry requires precisely machined parts which are smaller in size. It is possible with aluminum material. Commonly used aluminum alloys in the marine industry:

  • Aluminum alloy 5052
  • Aluminum alloy 5086
  • Aluminum alloy 6063


Why is MDA the Ideal Choice for CNC machining Aluminum?

After going through this article, you know about the benefits of aluminum, commonly used aluminum alloys and industrial applications. But if you are unsure about the aluminum alloy that suits your parts, you can request a quote and get in touch with our team.

MDA gives the option of various aluminum alloys for your custom aluminum machining needs. We have a qualified team of engineers and machinists capable of CNC aluminum machining parts accurately and precisely.