This section provides an overview for aluminum cuttings as well as their applications and principles. Also, please take a look at the list of 10 aluminum cutting companies and their company rankings.
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Aluminum cutting is a processing method that uses machine tools such as lathes, milling machines, NC machines, and machining centers to "cut" and "shave" aluminum.
Compared to press working or molding, aluminum cutting allows for more detailed machining depending on the processing area, making it possible to process more complex shapes. In addition, aluminum is a lightweight material with good machinability, and even complex shapes can be machined with high precision, so aluminum cutting is used to manufacture parts in a variety of fields.
Aluminum cutting is used as a machining method for the following machine parts because of their ability to machine complex shapes precisely and utilize aluminum's various characteristics.
Aluminum is a non-magnetic material that is not affected by magnetic fields. Therefore, parts with complex shapes such as electronic medical equipment, mechatronics equipment, and linear motor cars, which are susceptible to magnetic fields, are fabricated using aluminum cuttings.
Aluminum has high thermal conductivity, approximately three times that of steel. Therefore, aluminum cuttings are suitable for manufacturing air conditioning and heating equipment, engine parts, heat dissipation fins, and heat sinks, which require high thermal conductivity and complex shapes.
Aluminum is a tough material that can withstand low-temperature environments and does not suffer brittle fracture even at extremely low temperatures, such as when handling liquid nitrogen (-385°F) or liquid oxygen (-360°F). For this reason, aluminum cuttings have recently been used for machine parts in innovative fields such as space development and superconductivity at extremely low temperatures, where high precision is required in terms of shape and characteristics.
In aluminum cutting, unnecessary parts are removed by "cutting" or "shaving" aluminum using machine tools suited to the application, and then the aluminum is machined to the required shape and size. The advantages of this process are that it can be used to create a variety of shapes and high-precision parts.
On the other hand, however, the more complex the shape, the more time and cost consuming it is to use a variety of cutting tools and processing methods. The aluminum material commonly used as a component material is aluminum alloy. This is to cover the weakness of aluminum alone, and other metals are added to aluminum alloys.
Aluminum alloys are assigned a number, from 1000 to 7000, depending on the metal to which they are added. The 5000 series is the most suitable for aluminum cuttings.
Aluminum can melt during aluminum cutting, causing welding to occur on the cutting edge. The problems caused by this welding and how to solve them are as follows.
Problems Caused by Welds to Cutting Edges
When aluminum is welded to the cutting edge, there is a problem of reduced machining accuracy. This is because when welding occurs, a cutting edge called a component edge is formed on the cutting edge, and this component edge prevents the original machining accuracy from being achieved. When this welding occurs, the tiny cutting edges of threading taps and thin blades can break off and become buried in the workpiece, which is a major factor in quality loss.
How to Deal with the Welds
There are two main methods for preventing weld deposition: "eliminating chips by air blowing" and "using cutting fluid during machining." The "air blow to remove chips" method blows air onto the cutting edge and frequently removes chips generated by machining to prevent weld adhesion. Use cutting oil during "machining" is a method to reduce the risk of welding by using cutting oil during machining.
Aluminum is well suited for aluminum cutting and has the advantage of being able to be machined continuously for long periods of time. On the other hand, however, aluminum cutting also poses the following problems derived from the characteristics of aluminum.
Problems Caused by Long Aluminum Chips
Aluminum is a material that can be continuously cut for long periods of time, but the chips generated during long hours of cutting are difficult to cut and can become long. If these chips become entangled in the cutting machine during operation, machine failure or interruption of operation can be a serious problem.
Problems Due to the Soft properties of Aluminum Alloys
Aluminum alloys used in aluminum cutting are basically soft materials, and chucking for cutting can cause deformation, resulting in a quality loss problem. Care must be taken when using lightweight components, which are often thin-walled and long, as they are even more susceptible to deformation.
Another problem is that the fixture for chucking during cutting is made of hard steel, which damages the contact area of the soft aluminum alloy, resulting in a loss of quality. In addition, chips from the cutting process may contact the product and scratch the surface. For parts where appearance is particularly important, surface treatments such as shot blasting may be performed after aluminum cuttings.
Problems Caused by Formation of Work Alteration Layer
Aluminum alloys are soft and easily plasticized, so the surface layer of the aluminum cuttings surface tends to form an altered layer with different properties than the internal layer. This altered layer may cause changes in properties, such as increased hardness and residual stress, requiring reconsideration of cutting conditions in subsequent processes, which is problematic because it reduces work efficiency.
Problems Caused by the Use of Large Amounts of Cutting Oil
A large amount of cutting oil is required for aluminum cuttings, because a small amount of cutting oil can easily cause plucking of the cutting surface. The use of a large amount of cutting oil increases the initial cost of anti-scattering equipment and the running cost due to the increased frequency of replacement.
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