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Facemilling for smooth aluminum

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  • Doc Nickel
    Originally posted by Evan
    Ethylene glycol (the non toxic anti freeze used in food stuffs) mixed with water is common.
    -Nitpick: Ethylene glycol is the toxic stuff. Propylene glycol is the non-toxic version.

    It'd be more than a nitpick if we were talking a situation where it could be ingested, but there are a few people that use watered-down automotive antifreeze (the toxic kind) as machine coolant, out of concerns for rust or bacteria growth in the sumps of infrequently-used machines.

    I considered it myself for bandsaw coolant, but I have cats that spend time in the shop.


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  • Evan
    2024 will give a better finish than 6061. The harder the material the better the finish since it will resist scratching and isn't as prone to generate a built up edge. 7075 is even harder but also harder to find. 2024 is a good compromise and machines easily to a mirror finish given other parameters are in order. Use either kerosene, white spirits or ethyl alcohol for cutting fluid. Note that these cutting fluids are only to be used on non-sparking metals and only need to be used sparingly. You can also use soapy water if you aren't concerned about rust. Water is commonly used as a lubricoolant in industry with the addition of a surface tension reducer (ionic surfactant=soap) and a rust inhibitor. Ethylene glycol (the non toxic anti freeze used in food stuffs) mixed with water is common.

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  • scmw
    started a topic Facemilling for smooth aluminum

    Facemilling for smooth aluminum

    I'm starting this as a separate thread as I do not wish to hijack BB's thread on face milling.

    I'm going to be doing a project in aluminum that will need to have a nice smooth finish before any profiles get milled into it. The two questions I have center upon the material and best face mill for the job. It is an industrial model with several access doors and vents that will be cut as profiles and shallow pockets.

    I'm thinking of using 6061 aluminum. If there is a better aluminum to use for a better finish, please give me suggestions on that.

    The second part is the face mill. I have two Bridgeport Series II NC machines that have been modified to full CNC with Mach 3. The motors are 4HP 3Ph and the spindle uses NMTB40 tool holders. Any suggestions on a good face mill for this application? I've thought about the GMT FM's but I don't know very much about their quality and durability. I'd like to stay with an American brand if I can. Any suggestions here as well?