CNC machining is an integral part of industrial manufacturing for hydraulic systems, medical equipment, automotive parts, spacecraft components, and much more. To create these parts quickly, reliably, and at a high level of quality requires CNC milling and turning precision. Equally important, however, is the choice of materials used for the fabrication of these various components.
Plethora’s CNC machines use many materials ranging from hardened steel to softer plastics. Each of these materials has unique properties that will yield different benefits depending on its used project.
Designers must consider many variables when choosing which materials to use for a project. These can include the material’s strength, weight, flexibility, appearance, and cost. In some cases, the ease of using one material over another is the determining factor. Othertimes the durability of the part is the overriding concern. The part’s purpose and whether a company plans on using it as a prototype or in regular production also influence material choice.
Companies use prototypes to evaluate a part before production. However, different needs in prototyping influence the chosen materials:
One should choose the materials used for the final production part according to the following:
The choice of materials used for a CNC machined part also depends on the industry requirements. Here are some industry examples to consider:
At Plethora, we have a wide range of materials to choose from for manufacturing your prototype or production parts.
As a cost-effective option, many different industries use aluminum, including aerospace, medical, and automotive. Its strength and resistance to corrosion make it a lightweight alternative to steel. Learn more about aluminum here. Additional alloys are available by request.
|Corrosion resistant||ALUMINUM 6061|
|High strength-to-weight ratio||ALUMINUM 7075|
|Strength increases at subzero temperatures||ALUMINUM 2011|
|Absorbs shock well||ALUMINUM 2024|
|Holds paint well||MIC-6 ALUMINUM|
With its high strength, long service life, and machinability, steel is one of the most popular materials used for manufacturing parts. It is used in the automotive, defense, transportation, aerospace, and electronics industries. Learn more about steel here. Additional alloys are available by request.
|High strength||1018 STEEL 1144 STEEL|
|Tough and durable||1020 STEEL 12L14 STEEL|
|Machinable and workable||1040 STEEL 4130 STEEL|
|Good thermal conductivity||1045 STEEL 4140 STEEL|
|Long service life||1117 STEEL|
Protected by the chromium within it, stainless steel has natural protection from corrosion. Along with its durability, this makes stainless steel an excellent choice for parts exposed to harsh environments in the marine, food processing, medical, and petrochemical industries. Learn more about stainless steel here. Additional alloys are available by request.
|Excellent durability and strength||304|
|Long service life||17-4PH|
Copper is easy to work with, resistant to corrosion, and highly conductive, making it an excellent choice for several industries. The plumbing industry uses copper for pipes and fittings. The thousands of delicate metal traces on a computer’s motherboard also use copper. Learn more about copper here.
|Electrical and thermal conductivity||101 COPPER|
|Weather and chemical corrosion resistant||110 COPPER|
|Ductility properties and easily machinable||Both|
A gold-like color and surface finish make brass a preferred choice for electronic components and electrical and hydraulic systems. Brass is also easily machinable and versatile making it useful for industries ranging from aerospace to household fixtures. Learn more about brass here.
|Electrical and thermal conductivity||260 BRASS|
|Corrosion resistant||360 BRASS|
|Easily machinable and malleable||464 BRASS|
Bronze alloys obtain physical properties, such as durability, conductivity, and corrosion resistance, from the specific mix of their component metals. Along with its high coefficient of friction, this makes bronze an excellent choice for bushings, bearings, threaded nuts and bolts, and electrical terminals. Learn more about bronze here.
Plastics’ softness, range of colors and finishes, and low weight make it ideal for many applications. Its softness may not hold the same tolerances, but the low cost can reduce time and expense for quick evaluation prototypes. Learn more about plastics here.
|Durable||ABS | PEEK|
|Low cost||ACETAL | POLYCARBONATE|
|Produce less friction||HDPE | PEI (ULTEM)|
|Resistant to chemical contaminants||LDPE | PTFE|
|Wide range of colors and finishes||NYLON 66 | UHMW|