While aluminum machining is not impossible, it can pose issues. Cutting it can be difficult for one of several reasons. One of the major problems is the result of the inherent characteristics of the metal and its alloys. The result is a build-up of an edge on the surface during the cutting process.
The Problem of Built-Up Edge
Aluminum has a tendency to stick to the edges of cutting tools. The built-up edge, or BUE, is a problem for a number of reasons. It:
Affects the integrity of the surface finish
Negatively impacts tool life
Influences the service of the workpiece
Impinges on the performance of the workpiece
Minimizing BUE in Aluminum Machining
Machinists can minimize aluminum BUE by carefully selecting a tool suitable for aluminum machining. It is imperative to consider cutting tool technology that will meet certain standards. Selection should consider a variety of factors. Specifically, aluminum-cutting tools must take into account the following:
Speed: High is the most effective means of cutting aluminum
Efficiency: Choose the most efficient tools available
Reliability: The cutting tools must be reliable even when operating at high rotation speeds
Finish: The cutting tools must always produce a high quality surface finish
Edge Adjustment: Make sure the cutting edge is easy to adjust
Durability: The cutting tool must have a durable edge – one capable of handling the demands of the task
Remember, you want a tool that prevents BUE, but also exhibits longevity at its designated tasks.
At the same time, however, a machinist also must take responsibility in preventing BUE. As the operator of the machinery, you must always be sure to select the proper cutting speed and feed. Do monitor the depth of cut, making sure it is appropriate and be sure the cutting edge always indicates good chip evacuation. By selecting the right cutting tools and adhering to simple rules, you can make aluminum machining easy.