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Has anyone cut thin aluminum sheet?

I have a growing need to cut parts from 2024T3 and 6061 aluminum sheet, thicknesses ranging from 0.016" to 0.100". Some parts could have on the order of 24" X 48" overall dimensions, which makes me want to explore the Maslow possibility.

I presume the issues associated with cutting aluminum revolve around feed rate and cutter rpm, true?

Are the routers being used appropriate for cutting aluminum? If higher rpm is required, couldn’t I adapt a spindle motor to fit the Maslow carriage?

Is there any reason the Maslow cannot feed at a correct rate for aluminum?

Thank you in advance,
Rick

the maslow feeds rather slowly due to it’s motors not being very powerful.

The biggest problem with the routers is that they are much faster than they need
to be, so switching to a spindle to be able to decrease the rpm is more likely
going to be your issue.

There’s also the question of cooling.

people have successfully cut aluminum with stock maslows, but look at your feeds
and speeds and figure out what you want and then look at the maslow to see if it
will fit your needs.

David Lang

@MeticulousMaynard posted a video a few years ago doing just this:

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Funny thing is, I was just working on that video in YouTube studio recently playing around with music.

Aluminum is within the realm of possibility, but it certainly is slow. After a lot of testing and breaking bits, I came to 400mm/min (15ipm), 12000rpm, with 0.5mm (~0.020") stepdowns for my single flute 1/4" bits. I was cutting 0.040" 6061 sheet, so it took 2-3 passes to cut all the way through. Cutting fluid is a must, or you’ll get aluminum galling itself to your tooling. I used WD-40, which works in a pinch, but proper cutting fluid is better. It wouldn’t be too hard to rig up a mister setup on the machine if it’s consistently cutting aluminum.

I’ve always heard that 1/8" bits were better because higher rpms and such, but I just kept breaking them and needed to get the job done.

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I haven’t never tried cutting aluminum, but EstlCAM has a tricordial (I think that is how you spell it) milling operation that I have heard of people using to assist in cutting aluminum and steel. Can it be done on a Maslow> I don’t know, but aside form @MeticulousMaynard, I don’t think anyone else has even tried it.

Good luck!

We cut ACM sign board on ours quite regularly ( acm is a 4mm plastic with .5mm aluminum bonded each side . ) we cut it dry with 3mm cutter. But it does have a habbit of bonding the aluminum to the cutter end with every plunge cut.a ramped cut start seems to help.

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There was someone before me who did it, back in the early early days. Can’t remember now, but they should have replied to the thread I made when I posted that video.

And Tricordial milling (also known as Volumilling, among a myriad of other names) is great for milling machines but I doubt the Maslow can handle the chiploads typically used for it. I’ve used that programming technique for both steel and aluminum on full sized cnc mills and it works wonders. I could reliably take off a 1/2" of steel each step down and could get parts done crazy fast.

I could definitely see the Maslow being able to handle ACM. With the right settings, that stuff cuts great!

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