What Metals Can Be CNC Machined?

Have you ever wondered what makes the sleek lines of a luxury car, the sturdy frame of an aircraft, or the intricate components of high-tech gadgets so precise and reliable? The answer often lies in CNC machining—a marvel of modern manufacturing that can transform a wide array of metals into finely crafted parts. But which metals are up to the task? Let’s check together.

Mechanical Properties of 5083 Aluminum

1. Aluminum Alloys

6061 Aluminum
  • Applications: Aerospace, automotive parts, frames, mechanical components
  • Characteristics: High strength, good mechanical properties, easy to machine
7075 Aluminum
  • Applications: Aerospace, high-stress structural parts
  • Characteristics: High strength, high hardness, good fatigue resistance
2024 Aluminum
  • Applications: Aircraft structures, transportation equipment
  • Characteristics: Excellent strength-to-weight ratio, good fatigue performance

2. Stainless Steels

304 Stainless Steel
  • Applications: Food equipment, chemical equipment, architectural decorations
  • Characteristics: Strong corrosion resistance, good weldability, and machinability
316 Stainless Steel
  • Applications: Marine equipment, chemical equipment, medical instruments
  • Characteristics: Superior corrosion resistance, especially in saltwater environments, good weldability
303 Stainless Steel
  • Applications: Fasteners, gears, shafts, aircraft fittings
  • Characteristics: Excellent machinability, good mechanical properties, corrosion resistance

3. Carbon Steels

1018 Carbon Steel
  • Applications: Shafts, spindles, pins, machinery parts
  • Characteristics: Good weldability, machinability, and strength
1045 Carbon Steel
  • Applications: Gears, axles, bolts, machinery parts
  • Characteristics: Higher strength and hardness than 1018, good machinability
4140 Alloy Steel
  • Applications: Crankshafts, gears, axles, high-stress machinery parts
  • Characteristics: High strength, toughness, good hardenability

4. Titanium Alloys

Grade 2 Titanium
  • Applications: Chemical processing, marine, aerospace components
  • Characteristics: Excellent corrosion resistance, moderate strength, good weldability
Grade 5 Titanium (Ti-6Al-4V)
  • Applications: Aerospace, medical implants, high-performance automotive parts
  • Characteristics: High strength, lightweight, excellent corrosion resistance

5. Brass and Copper Alloys

C360 Brass
  • Applications: Fittings, valves, fasteners, electrical components
  • Characteristics: Excellent machinability, good corrosion resistance
C110 Copper
  • Applications: Electrical components, heat exchangers, plumbing fittings
  • Characteristics: Excellent electrical and thermal conductivity, good corrosion resistance

6. Tool Steels

D2 Tool Steel
  • Applications: Dies, punches, cutting tools, industrial knives
  • Characteristics: High wear resistance, good hardness and toughness
A2 Tool Steel
  • Applications: Blanking dies, forming tools, shear blades
  • Characteristics: Good toughness, wear resistance, dimensional stability during heat treatment

7. Nickel Alloys

Inconel 625
  • Applications: Aerospace, marine, chemical processing
  • Characteristics: Excellent oxidation and corrosion resistance, high strength
Hastelloy C276
  • Applications: Chemical processing, pollution control, waste treatment
  • Characteristics: Outstanding corrosion resistance, good weldability, and formability

8. Magnesium Alloys

AZ31 Magnesium
  • Applications: Aerospace components, automotive parts, electronic housings
  • Characteristics: Very lightweight, good strength-to-weight ratio, excellent machinability
AZ91 Magnesium
  • Applications: Automotive parts, power tools, sports equipment
  • Characteristics: High strength, excellent corrosion resistance, good castability

9. Nickel-Based Alloys

Inconel 718
  • Applications: Gas turbines, jet engines, high-temperature fasteners
  • Characteristics: High strength, excellent oxidation and corrosion resistance, maintains performance in extreme temperatures
Monel 400
  • Applications: Marine engineering, chemical and hydrocarbon processing equipment
  • Characteristics: Excellent resistance to sea water and steam at high temperatures, as well as to salt and caustic solutions

10. Other Alloy Steels

4340 Alloy Steel
  • Applications: Aircraft landing gear, power transmission gears, high-torque shafts
  • Characteristics: High toughness and strength, good fatigue resistance
8620 Alloy Steel
  • Applications: Gears, crankshafts, fasteners
  • Characteristics: Good toughness and wear resistance, case-hardening capability

11. Exotic Alloys

  • Applications: Aerospace, military applications, electronics
  • Characteristics: Extremely high melting point, high density, excellent hardness
  • Applications: Electrical contacts, industrial motors, aerospace
  • Characteristics: High melting point, good electrical conductivity, corrosion resistance

12. Cast Iron

Gray Cast Iron (G3000)
  • Applications: Engine blocks, machinery bases, pipe fittings
  • Characteristics: Good machinability, excellent wear resistance, high damping capacity
Ductile Iron (65-45-12)
  • Applications: Automotive components, gears, bearings
  • Characteristics: High strength, good ductility, excellent impact resistance

13. Zinc Alloys

Zamak 3
  • Applications: Die casting components, hardware, automotive parts
  • Characteristics: Good strength and hardness, excellent castability, corrosion resistance
Zamak 5
  • Applications: Die casting components, mechanical parts
  • Characteristics: Higher strength than Zamak 3, good balance of properties

14. Bronze Alloys

Aluminum Bronze (C95400)
  • Applications: Bearings, bushings, gears, marine hardware
  • Characteristics: High strength, excellent corrosion resistance, good wear properties
Phosphor Bronze (C54400)
  • Applications: Springs, fasteners, electrical contacts
  • Characteristics: Good elasticity, excellent fatigue resistance, corrosion resistance

15. Tool and Die Steels

M2 High-Speed Steel
  • Applications: Cutting tools, punches, dies
  • Characteristics: Excellent hardness, high wear resistance, good toughness
O1 Tool Steel
  • Applications: Blades, cutters, tools, dies
  • Characteristics: Good machinability, high hardness, and wear resistance after heat treatment

16. Lead Alloys

Lead (Pb)
  • Applications: Radiation shielding, batteries, pipes, and roofing
  • Characteristics: High density, corrosion resistance, excellent workability

17. Silver Alloys

Sterling Silver (92.5% Silver)
  • Applications: Jewelry, tableware, electrical contacts
  • Characteristics: High electrical conductivity, good corrosion resistance, aesthetic appeal
Fine Silver (99.9% Silver)
  • Applications: Electronics, medical devices, specialty applications
  • Characteristics: Highest electrical and thermal conductivity, excellent corrosion resistance

18. Precious Metals

Gold Alloys (14k, 18k)
  • Applications: Jewelry, electronics, medical devices
  • Characteristics: Excellent corrosion resistance, good electrical conductivity, aesthetic value
Platinum Alloys
  • Applications: Catalytic converters, laboratory equipment, jewelry
  • Characteristics: High melting point, excellent corrosion resistance, good mechanical properties

ConclusionThe list provided includes a comprehensive range of metals commonly used in CNC machining. However, it is not exhaustive. CNC machining is a highly versatile process capable of working with almost any metal, depending on the specific requirements of the application and the capabilities of the CNC equipment. This flexibility makes CNC machining a critical tool in manufacturing high-quality components across a wide array of industries.

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