Cutting Aircraft Grade Aluminum

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Cutting Aircraft Grade Aluminum

Postby TimSchubach » Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:37 pm

I have a friend who needs to cut a fair amount of aircraft grade aluminum ( 6061T6 ). He has a head start on it, but he's been cutting all by hand. I'd like to be able to some cutting for him on my CNC, but I have never cut metal before and don't know anything about the tooling required for something like this.

Can anyone tell me if this can be done, and if so, what kind of tooling would be required?

TIA,
Tim
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Re: Cutting Aircraft Grade Aluminum

Postby martin54 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:51 am

Tim try a search on the forum as it is something that gets asked quite often so there is already quite a bit of info on cutting Aluminium.
Simple answer is yes it is something that can be done, good chip extraction is very important & feeds & speeds are not quite so forgiving as they are for wood so have a bit of a practice to get things set up on a bit of scrap :lol: :lol:
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Re: Cutting Aircraft Grade Aluminum

Postby Mobius » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:23 am

I've recently gotten into it. I use 'Aluminum Spiral O Single Flute" bits from Amana Tools (ToolsToday), and they work well. For me I like to keep it at 0.02" DOC and about 40-50IPM @ 16k RPM. No coolant or anything; the bit stays cool and it makes a nice clean cut with well defined chips.
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Re: Cutting Aircraft Grade Aluminum

Postby plcamp » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:45 pm

6061 machines clean when using the 0-flute cutter. Speed and feed are key, just keep an eye on the chip because of running it dry.
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Re: Cutting Aircraft Grade Aluminum

Postby ger21 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:30 pm

Your machine's rigidity has a lot to do with how easy it'll be to cut, and the quality of the cuts.

As mentioned, an "O" flute is the way to go. If you can keep the chips cleared, it'll cut OK dry, but spraying WD40 on the cuts will increase cut quality, and reduce the chance of chips sticking to the tool, which can quickly result in broken bits if it happens.
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Re: Cutting Aircraft Grade Aluminum

Postby John Murphy » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:40 pm

I cut a lot of aluminum, but I have a Unist mister attached to my carriage. If you plan on cutting aluminum on a regular basis, it's worth it to invest in a misting system, or build one for yourself.
You don't need allot of lubrication, but it will help in both cutting and surface finish.
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Re: Cutting Aircraft Grade Aluminum

Postby Oldmanofgf » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:56 pm

I use Rapid Tap cutting fluid it work well just put a little on the piece that you are cutting.I agree that a mister is best if you are cutting aluminum a lot
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Re: Cutting Aircraft Grade Aluminum

Postby TimSchubach » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:45 am

Thanks everyone for your replies. I'm not planning on making this a habit, so as this may be a one-time-deal I wasn't planning on looking into a misting system. But I'll definitely look into the bits mentioned, and probably some WD40.

Tim
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