If you’re working in the crafting industry, you’d most likely know that many tools are meant to be used on different working applications. One of the great examples of this is the CNC router. If you’re already using this router in your workshop for wood projects, you’ll know that this equipment has a lot of potential features for other work purposes. In this article, we’re going to talk about how it can be used on aluminum materials, and what you should consider when buying one for that purpose. The best part is that we have a unit recommendation for you towards the end.
If you haven’t dipped your toes in the usage of CNC machines, specifically on aluminum, or you’ve been eyeing a CNC model, but still waiting on it, this is the article that tells you to go for it, but with caution. We got the details for you, so read on!
What’s a CNC Router?
If you compare it among other router equipment in the market, you will find that standard and traditional routers are mostly available. A CNC router is indeed just a budding innovation in the industry, but users have proven its effectiveness and convenience at work.
A CNC Router or a Computer Numerical Controlled Router utilizes a computer and a specific set of software programs to let you control the machine for work applications. This machine is commonly compared to 3D printers because of its functionalities and main features; however, you can say that a CNC router provides better coverage. This machine typically comes at a high price, considering its technicalities and additional accessories. Still, the projects you can tackle and the materials you can work with make it worth it.
What to Consider When Getting a CNC Machine
As mentioned, a CNC machine can punch a hole in your pocket. The prices of top sellers in the market range from $500 to $1000, while the lower ends are $400 and below. For this factor, the price of the unit heavily depends on the functions of the router features. Analyzing the tasks that would be worked on by the CNC machine will significantly help in your budgeting process because you’ll be able to pay attention to the models that are close to your price range.
The speed of a CNC router relies on the spindle motor that it comes equipped with. The machine’s spindle rate determines how well it can perform when it comes to engraving, milling, and cutting. The spindle component also affects the depth and overall speed of the machine for work operations.
In this factor, you’re checking if the machine is capable of working with different mediums smoothly; this includes wood, plastics, acrylics, soft metals, and PVC. In this case, you want to look for the unit that can tackle aluminum materials seamlessly. It’s good to have a machine that can handle different working mediums, but pay attention if it includes aluminum in the list.
Tips for Cutting Aluminum with a CNC Machine
Learn your way around the metal material
For successful cutting operations, you need to know the “sweet spots” for a certain medium’s speeds and feeds. Each material has a different set of sweet spots; for example, the sweet spots of wood and plastic are bigger than that of aluminum. It’s essential to take note of this because if you missed or left the aluminum’s spot, there’s a tendency that the machine’s cutter tear and break easier. Another thing to point out is aluminum can be sticky; this means that you might have small aluminum deposits on your machine, which leads to faster tool wear. To simply put it, you have to be extra careful when handling your router for aluminum cutting operations.
You know that a CNC router can do cutting actions against aluminum, but there’s no need to take things in a hurry. Forcing your machine to take up large units, especially when it’s not supposed to, will only slow things down for your business. What you can do is trust your machine and let it do its job. Make your design input and wait for the corresponding output. Lastly, opt for a larger-sized unit if most of your tasks require.
Be mindful of chips
Chips affect that usage longevity of your unit. Don’t rely on vacuum dust collection features because it doesn’t guarantee that it can take out the chips for varying cutting depths. If possible, get an air-blast system fixed on the device’s spindle to ensure that chips are cleared out. Additionally, you have to watch the length of depth you’re going for when cutting; the deeper you cut, the more that it’s harder to clear chips.
Know the difference between a CNC Router Aluminum Sheet Work and a CNC Router Cutting Aluminum Plate
Most people make the common mistake of treating the two pieces as one. You need to remember that the two require different work operations to avoid project mistakes and tool wear.
In this section, we’re going to discuss our CNC machine recommendation that can cater to your aluminum cutting needs: BobsCNC E3 Aluminum Router. Learn about the details you need to know below:
From afar, you might probably get taken aback by its price at $898; however, the fact that it’s one of those units that are trusted by professionals might win your opinion back. Even novices who are just getting on the wagon of using CNC machines recommend this model. The BobsCNC E3 boasts an impressive maximum speed of 30000 RPM, made by a 5-amp spindle motor. The unit has additional features like a spindle lock function to allow you to change your bits with ease, and a laser-cut frame and supported rail system to provide you with highly accurate and precise cuts on your aluminum material.
Overall, the unit can be controlled by a wide range of software programs; this makes it flexible enough to cater to the software that’s available for your end. It can be used on desktop versions of Mac OS, Windows, and Linux.
If for some reason using the Evolution 3 doesn’t seem ideal for you, it may be worth checking out the Evolution 4, which is the big brother to this hefty piece of machinery.
Aluminum is one of the most common material types that craftsmen love to work on because of its project versatility and lightness to deal with. Fortunately, you perform cutting operations on this medium with ease and convenience with the use of a CNC machine. Keep our tips and recommendation in mind, especially if you’re new to DIY and crafting business.