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Aluminum for CNC Machining

Aluminum is one of the most common materials used in the aerospace, medical, and automotive industries. This is due to its excellent strength-to-weight ratio, formability, and general versatility.

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About Aluminum for CNC Machining

Aluminum is a lightweight metal with an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, making it ideal for applications in which metallic-level strength is required but mass is still a concern. There are various alloys for aluminum, each denoted by the first number in their classification. The number indicates the main alloying element(s).

Aluminum At a Glance

Aluminum 2024-T3

This aluminum alloy resists fatigue well and is quite machinable, but exhibits poor weldability characteristics. It is not very resistant to corrosion, so it requires surface treatments if used in harsh environments. Aluminum 2024-T3 is typically used for bolts, aircraft fittings, and pistons.

Aluminum 2024-T3 Properties
Tensile Strength, Yield (MPa)Fatigue Strength (MPa)Elongation at Break (%)Hardness (Brinell)Density (g/cm^3)

324

138

19

120

2.78

Aluminum 5052

This aluminum alloy uses magnesium as its primary alloying element. It is very corrosion-resistant due to the lack of copper in its composition but it cannot be heat-treated. Aluminum 5052 is typically used in fuel tanks, sheet metal parts, and fuel/oil lines.

Aluminum 5052 Properties
Tensile Strength, Yield (MPa)Fatigue Strength (MPa)Elongation at Break (%)Hardness (Brinell)Density (g/cm^3)

193

117

18

60

2.68

Aluminum 6061

This grade of aluminum is considered a general-purpose alloy. It has excellent machinability characteristics and can be easily welded. The primary alloying elements are magnesium and silicon. This aluminum alloy is regularly used to make electrical fittings, brake pistons, and bike frames.

Aluminum 6061 Properties
Tensile Strength, Yield (MPa)Fatigue Strength (MPa)Elongation at Break (%)Hardness (Brinell)Density (g/cm^3)

276

96.5

17

95

2.7

Aluminum 6063

There is only a slight difference between the alloying elements in aluminum 6063 as compared to 6061. This aluminum alloy is not as strong but offers better formability. As a result, it’s well-suited for pipes, railings, and extrusions.

Aluminum 6063 Properties
Tensile Strength, Yield (MPa)Fatigue Strength (MPa)Elongation at Break (%)Hardness (Brinell)Density (g/cm^3)

214

68.9

12

73

2.7


Aluminum 7050

This aluminum alloy is one of the strongest available. Its main alloying element is zinc. Aluminum 7050 achieves its strength by sacrificing corrosion resistance; the inclusion of copper is the reason behind both effects. This alloy is also highly machinable. Its strength makes it ideally suited for aircraft structures.

Aluminum 7050 Properties
Tensile Strength, Yield (MPa)Fatigue Strength (MPa)Elongation at Break (%)Hardness (Brinell)Density (g/cm^3)

490

160

11

147

2.83

Aluminum 7075

This alloy is slightly stronger than 7050 aluminum and has very good fatigue resistance, making it ideal for applications that undergo cyclic loading. Its main alloying element is zinc and its typical applications include meter shafts and gears, aircraft fittings, and shaft keys.

Aluminum 7075 Properties
Tensile Strength, Yield (MPa)Fatigue Strength (MPa)Elongation at Break (%)Hardness (Brinell)Density (g/cm^3)

503

159

11

150

2.81

Aluminum MIC-6

This aluminum alloy is cast specifically for applications that require highly accurate components like assembly jigs, test structures, and fixture plates. It is well-suited to these applications because its crystal structure has no internal stresses. It also allows for high-speed machining without the significant distortion common in other aluminum alloys.

Aluminum MIC-6 Properties
Tensile Strength, Yield (MPa)Fatigue Strength (MPa)Elongation at Break (%)Hardness (Brinell)Density (g/cm^3)

105

N/A

3

65

2.7

Finishes and Post-Processing Options

Xometry offers a wide range of surface finishes suitable for aluminum alloys. The most popular surface finishing process is anodization. Both normal- and hard-coating anodizing are offered to improve the wear resistance and the corrosion resistance of the various available alloys. Chemical conversion coating and metal plating are also available for aluminum alloys. Learn more about the surface finishes we offer.

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    Cost-saving Design Tips

    Design for manufacturing: The first way to save cost when machining an aluminum alloy part is by following design for manufacturing principles to limit the use of difficult-to-machine features. Learn more here.

    Choose the right alloy: Not all aluminum alloys are equal in price. If the part is only a prototype, it may not be necessary to use the most advanced and expensive alloy. To learn more, contact a Xometry expert.

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