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Thread: Machining Zinc?

  1. #1

    Default Machining Zinc?

    My brother-in-law would like some light machining done on a zinc model railroading casting. Any tricks to it? Any toxicity concerns?

    Thanks.

    - T

  2. #2
    Dr Stan Guest

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    I would not grind or sand it as the power is pretty nasty (toxic). Depending on the composition of the alloy it could be from easy to absolutely a PITA to machine. If it is 100% zinc its gummy and will like to build up on your cutting tools. I know as I machined sacrificial zinc anodes when I was in the Navy to reduce salt water corrosion in some tanks. If it has a fair amount of aluminum in the mix it will machine much like aluminum.

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Its probably not pure zinc but Zamac.

  4. #4
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    Yep. probably Zamac. It machines nicely but it gets hot and it can dig in suddenly if the setup isn't really secure. When that happens it usually destroys the part.
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  5. #5
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    Is it possible to machine zinc coated pieces without cashing peeling/fractures in the zinc coating? I know this doesn't work on chrome plated pieces. I don't have any such project, just wondering...

  6. #6
    gary350 Guest

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    Zinc machines a lot like brass you need a razor shape end mill. I use to machine a lot of prototype parts at work. We bought zinc in bars and melted them down then I hand poured the liquid zinc into small hand made molds that cast the zinc into blocks about 1/4" wider, 1/4" longer and about 1/2" thicker than the finished part. A dull cutter will produce a lot of heat. Zinc must be abrasive because a brand new end mill will work fine for several days then it starts getting hot. It was always best for me to use water cooling for a day then swap to another razor sharp end mill. The end mill that I removed would still cut steel fine.
    Last edited by gary350; 04-06-2011 at 02:33 PM.

  7. #7
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    Very sharp edge tool will be needed and probably a negative rake and/or clearance needed to help stop it from digging in. Try with something you dont care about first.

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