Is Aluminum Good for CNC Projects – Best Routers (2020)

Aluminum is a unique type of metal found in many structures. While steel is the most common one in manufacturing, aluminum has many applications due to its high strength/weight ratio and relatively low cost. 

Why a CNC Router that Cuts Aluminum is a Great Investment?

When it comes to CNC, it’s favorable to use aluminum over steel because the cost of the equipment increases for cutting harder metals like steel. So, it’s a cheaper option to acquire a machine that cuts only relatively soft metals such as aluminum. Here is why.

CNC routers are known for cutting or carving materials that are not hard. A big part of the market focuses almost entirely on wood and plastic. However, it’s not uncommon for them to face a problem that can easily be solved using metals. Thus, many people make a pretty common question on such an occasion, can we use this machine for metal cutting? 

Well, it depends. The machines that can cut steel are at a higher price level compared to the ones that cut wood or plastic. So, using steel on low powered units is a bad idea. 

However, the price of a unit that can cut soft metals such as aluminum is almost the same as the price of a unit suitable for non-metallic manufacturing. So, it’s a wise option to buy a machine ideal for both metallic and non-metallic objects. 

What are the Best CNC Machines for Cutting Aluminum?

Considering the facts described above, I have created a list of value for money CNC machines for cutting aluminum. This way, you will utilize the full potential of every penny that you are paying. I have included some units for cutting or engraving even harder metals than aluminum like steel in the list below. Here is the top best CNC machine for aluminum.  

Genmitsu CNC Router, Ideal for Beginners

Are you searching for a CNC machine for cutting aluminum that can be used by a beginner? Well, this CNC machine cutting tool is made for beginners. It’s an excellent machine for learners who want to make their first designs on wood or aluminum.

People who practiced with this machine claimed that it was easier for them to code their design. So, you will probably not face that many difficulties for your engraving projects on aluminum.

The reasons why this is considered one of the best CNC cutting tools for aluminum are available below.

Versatile: This machine can route all kinds of soft materials. All forms of wood, plastics, PCBs, PVCs, and acrylics can be easily handled by this machine.

Soft Metal Cuts: You can use it to cut soft metals, including aluminum. Before using it for cutting, you must make sure that the surface is even and there are no bumps. Furthermore, you will need to use a cutting edge recommended for the application.

Control via Apps: You can operate it with the use of open-source software. This program can be installed in most Windows operating systems. According to the manufacturer, you can install it on Windows 7, 8, 10, and XP. Therefore, even an old computer is able to control the machine.

Manual Control: The best thing about it is that it comes with an offline controller custom made by this company. So, you can utilize it without the need to connect to the computer. It’s an exciting feature because you can use the router conveniently. All you have to do is to adjust the position of the tool on all three axes. Also, there is no need to seek help from a PC or download any software. 

Cheap but Well-Built: It is cheap compared to other products or brands. However, it offers great value for money and the quality of the equipment will please beginners and amateur machinists.

Perfect for beginners: It is a remarkable cutting machine for beginners. So, never expect a lot of industrial or professional performance.

Pros

  • Works best with aluminum
  • Offline and online controlled 
  • Remarkable customer support

Cons

  • Ideal for beginners only 
  • Not for commercial or industrial use. 

Check it out here

SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router Machine, Availability in the United Kingdom

If you are searching for a multipurpose CNC tool, look no further than SainSmart Genmitsu.

State of the art SainSmart Genmitsu is a perfect choice if you want to put up a new business. You can control this machine by using the groundbreaking Mach3 software. This router can drill, mill, and engrave. I have included it in this list because it makes it simple to work with most aluminum alloys. 

Key Features 

High-Quality Build: This machine stands out when it comes to building quality as it is made with an aluminum frame. The working surface measure 260 by 144 by 35 mm.

It has a spindle motor with a 10,000 RPM rate. Such speed is sufficient for any kind of aluminum job. 

Mach3 Control: This cutting tool can be controlled by Mach3 software. 

It’s a piece of software that enables you to exploit the full potential of it. Therefore, you can take projects that a professional would take. You might be wondering what kind of hardware is needed for running this program. You can use it on any computer that has an operating system Mac or Windows.

Safe to Use: When it comes to safety features, it has dual 5 mm baffles located on each end. This feature enables you to monitor the process of engraving without risk. To minimize the faults or errors in engraving, the maker has integrated a switch. It restricts the spindle from jumping out of the engraving surface. So, the risk of harming the metals is greatly reduced, especially when you’re working with aluminum. Therefore, you can track what you’re doing, and you can stop in case of urgent situations. 

This machine is ideal for all kinds of users. Industrial designers, engineers, educators, as well as hobbyists will enjoy using it. It works with soft aluminum, plastic, and like most of these machines, wood. In conclusion, you will not face difficulties with the assembling process.

Pros

  • Extremely versatile machine
  • Controlled by mach3 software
  • Connect with USB

Cons

  • It takes time to assemble
  • Hard to use if you don’t have experience on how to use the software

Check it out on Amazon.co.uk

MYSWEETY DIY Router – Value for Money

If you are searching for a budget-friendly CNC cutting machine, the Sweety 1610 is a perfect choice. This is undoubtedly an industrial cutting tool with parts made of plastic and aluminum. 

Key Features:

Ideal for Aluminum Cutting: This machine is a great choice for cutting aluminum. It has a 7000 RPM motor, enabling the user to cut the aluminum with ease and less effort. It can also cut wood, PVC, plastic, copper as well as acrylic. 

Stable and Tough: It has a cutting place made of aluminum that provides remarkable stability and sturdiness. 

Operate by Computer: You don’t require any special platform for operating the machine. A common computer operated by Windows will work. You can even use obsolete Windows XP systems.

Best for DIY: This is intended for DIY jobs. Once you become accustomed to the control software, you will be impressed with the number of potential projects this machine can handle.

Easy to Assemble: You can set it up in the comfort of your home without calling an expert. All you need to do is follow a well-written guide.

Small Cutting Surface: One flaw of this machine is the small cutting surface. 

Pros 

  • Windows compatible 
  • The cutting plate is made of aluminum 
  • Lightweight 
  • Precise cuts 

Cons 

  • Some components are made of plastic materials 
  • Small cutting surface 
  • Ideal for light-duty works only

Check it out on Amazon.com

Check it out on Amazon.co.uk.

Gowe 1013 Inch Router – My Pick for Professionals

When it comes to heavy-duty CNC cutting, the Gowe router is a perfect choice. Whether you plan to utilize it for commercial or industrial tasks, this CNC tool will never let you down. It is also ideal for student projects, technology research, or any kind of artistic creation. 

Key Features 

Ideal for Aluminum of all Types: This CNC cutting tool is able to carve and drill. You can expect that the Gowe machine will cut aluminum like butter

This router doesn’t just work on aluminum efficiently; you can also use it on PVC, wood, plywood, and other types of soft materials. 

Strong and Steady: This is a well-built tool, and the frame is made of an aluminum alloy. It is easy to use. 

An efficient mix of software and hardware: Mach3 software allows you to function this router to its full potential. You can install it on a computer. However, it is advisable to avoid using a laptop using this machine. There’s a stop button to shut off the machine when done using it instantly. 

Technological Skill: It requires some experience and skill to use and operate the machine. But you don’t have to worry as it comes with an easy to follow and comprehend guide. 

Pros 

  • User-friendly 
  • Adjustable 
  • Works on PVC, plywood, wood, aluminum, and other soft materials 

Cons 

  • Needs some know-how and knowledge to use the software
  • Not compatible with laptop, as you may experience some issues and difficulties 

Check it out here

VEVOR 3020 4 Axis Router  

If you need a CNC machine with a wide range of applications, you better opt for VEVOR CNC router. It is a multi-functional router that works on different kinds of materials. 

This machine has the capability to engrave in soft metals, including aluminum.

Key Features: 

High Quality: It is designed to work for years since the parts of this machine are made of aluminum. So, we are talking about a durable and heavy-duty machine. 

Large Working Area: The dimensions of the working area is 300mm by 200 by 50mm. Also, this machine is capable of creating deep holes of up to 50mm depth. Therefore, you can make more complicated designs on your computer.

USB Port: The maker of this tool has integrated USB ports, making the installation of Mach3 software an easy task. Also, it easier for you to connect the machine to other devices

Amazing Performance: This machine can move on 4-axis. It’s actually a significant feature because the machine is able to perform advanced tasks with precision. It is also less noisy, thus making the use of the machine a very comfortable experience.

Software: You can control this machine with the help of Mach3 software. It’s an advanced program that you can run it in any windows operating system (from Windows 2000 to Windows 10).

Ideal for Aluminum: The speed of the spindle ranges between 0-8000 rpm. You can also adjust the revolution rate of the spindle based on the tasks or jobs you are handling. In general, 2400 rpm is an excellent speed for cutting aluminum. It has a carving rate of 0-1000mm per minute. 

Easy to Clean: The dustproof plater and the aluminum backing plate enable you to clean the machine without so much pressure and stress.

Pros 

  • Wide dimensions
  • Best for engraving aluminum
  • Motion on four-axis

Cons 

  • May encounter difficulties in connecting to your computer

Check it out on Amazon.com

Check it out on Amazon.co.uk.

MCW CNC Milling Machine, Great for Hobbists

This CNC machine is ideal for cutting soft aluminum. It is also portable, well-built, and though it is smaller than other machines mentioned, it doesn’t compromise the performance. 

Key Features:

Tested on many metals: This machine is perfect for cutting soft aluminum. It has the capability to cut through not just aluminum but also copper and silver. You can use it with any metal that is not hard but also on other materials like wood, plastic as well as acrylic. 

Supported by Software: This is controlled by powerful software that is compatible with Windows 7, Windows 8, and even with outdated operating systems like Windows XP.

User-friendly: It’s easy to use, and it comes with a simple to understand and follow guide. 

Value for money: It’s a well-built machine, making it a good and reliable investment since it will work for years. You can purchase it at a very reasonable amount. 

Pros 

  • Well-made 
  • Easy to use
  • Good motor performance 

Cons 

  • Requires to assemble
  • Needs the knowledge to use

Check it out here

JFT 3 Axis Engraving Machine

If you are on the look for a CNC router for making signs, engraving, construction models, making nameplates on aluminum and other soft materials, then the JFT 6040 CNC router is a wise choice. We are talking about a very versatile cutting machine that is capable of performing a big variety of industrial tasks and art designs. Also, it’s an excellent machine for teaching purposes. It is user-friendly and it is legally guaranteed by the manufacturer to work for one year.

Key Features

Tough and Steady: This machine has a reliable and stable frame made of aluminum alloy materials.

No Issue Operation: You can be certain that the machine will always work properly. That’s because a travel limit switch restricts the motion of the machine in all axis due to some error. In case you’re working with aluminum, the integrated limit switch may prove to be very useful that protects you, the machine, and the piece of metal.

Ideal for Aluminum: This cutting tool weighs 72 kilograms, and it is stable during the milling procedure.

An excellent option for industrial use: It has a wide working space with dimensions of 840 by 480 by 20mm. The integrated XYZ axis has a travel range of 400 by 600 by 100mm. This fact allows you to work on projects where machining on large components is required. Therefore, you can perform a lot of industrial applications.

Motion and Speed: It has a maximum speed of 4500 mm per minute, which is enough to deal with all-aluminum types. A two-level stepping motor is available with the router. The spindle doesn’t heat up thanks to a water cooling system. The maximum revolutions of it are 24000 rpm that is probably more than you need for aluminum jobs.

Cooling: It has superior and high-quality water cooling. On the other hand, when using this machine, make sure to pay attention to this cooling system since a malfunction of it will create problems. Aluminum may damage the parts of the router and may harm your work once the spindle gets hot. Brushing the spindle is not needed. 

Pros 

  • Ideal for aluminum 
  • One year warranty on parts 
  • Advanced cooling system
  • Great for Industrial Applications

Cons 

  • Hard to use or operate if you don’t have experience with CNC machine software.

Check it out on Amazon.com

Check it out on Amazon.co.uk.

Benbox CNC Router

RATTMOTOR is a big name when it comes to CNC machines. The company has been in the business for many years, so you are assured that all the products it offers are high-quality.

One of the most popular CNC cutting machines the company offers is the BenBox DIY Mini 1310 CNC router. For those who are aluminum enthusiasts, then state of the art BenBox DIY Mini 1310 CNC router is an excellent choice.

Excellent performance for its size: Big machines are usually utilized for demanding projects. On the other hand, BenBox Mini CNC Router, even though small and lightweight, has the power and capability to complete small industrial projects with ease. It has a dimension of 281 by 281 by 287.5 mm; this is small enough, which doesn’t take a lot of space in your working area. This fact allows you to work comfortably and with great ease. 

Wide Working Area: If you search for a CNC router that offers wide working space, you must consider this one. It has a working space of 126 by 88 mm. At the same time, the integrated spindle moves to a distance of up to 38 mm.

Quiet Operation: Another remarkable characteristic of this machine is its quiet operation. So, you can easily utilize it without disturbing others. If you use it in your garage, rest easy that it will not bother your loved ones who are sleeping or need to take a rest.

Compatible with Various OS: Another remarkable thing about this machine is that it works with various operating systems. You can use any Windows operating system that was released in the last 20 years. The program runs on obsolete ones such as Windows, XP, and modern ones like Windows 8. This is not common sense stuff because you will find a couple of machines in the market that runs only Windows XP or 98.

Applications on metals: When it comes to the materials that you can use it, plastic, wood, and some metals are allowed. You don’t want to use hard materials with this machine. So, metals like aluminum or copper that are soft will work great. On the other hand, many hard steel alloys may cause problems. Therefore, you should avoid them.

To use this machine, you have to provide around 12 Volts of electric current. According to the manufacturer, the maximum rpm of the rotor can be reached by a 24V. In this voltage, it reaches a remarkable speed of 8000 rpm, which is ideal for flawless and easy cuts.

Advanced Software: You can control this machine’s functions with the use of the integrated GRBL software. 

Pros

  • Precise cuts
  • Ideal for Professionals with not demanding projects
  • Works with various aluminum alloys
  • Also works with wood, PVCs, and other types of materials

Cons

  • The price could be lower, but still, it’s a cheaper machine compared to others for small industrial projects

Check it out on Amazon.com

Check it out on Amazon.co.uk

Mostics 3018 Pro, Available in the UK

One of the most popular and renowned producers of CNC routers today is Mostics. Most of the tools they offer are relatively big, and you need to have a wide space to accommodate the machine. If you want a CNC machine for home use or you don’t have room, then CNC 3018 Pro from Mostics is a router that you must take into account.

Small Machine: You can place this tool in a small space in your home or garage. The assembly and setup processes are pretty straightforward. You just need two minutes or less to assemble them.

Now let’s see more about the dimensions and the mobility of the moving parts. The dimensions of the bed are 300 by 180mm. It’s made out of metal, so we are talking about a durable bed. The spindle can move vertically up to 45mm. The maximum revolutions of it are 10000 rpm. According to the manufacturer, you should be able to use it with a voltage between 15 to 30V. 

Easy to learn: Along with the machine’s components, you will receive the program, manuals, and contact info in case you need support. 

Materials: This machine is manufactured primarily for wood engraving operations. However, you can use it on soft metals such as copper, brass, or aluminum.

Parts Included: Along with the CNC machine, you will receive cutting components, a laser head, clamps for anchoring your workpiece. 

Pros

  • Superb setup
  • Extraordinary design
  • Compatible with various kinds of software
  • Super lightweight
  • Easy to use

 Cons

  • Not ideal for industrial use due to its small size

Check it out here

NOPTEG 3040 3 Axis CNC Router / Engraver

This CNC router from NOPTEG is a great option for your garage projects. Without a doubt, it is an excellent cutting tool that is created to function for many years without a problem. 

For both your own safety and structural integrity of the machine, there is an emergency button that once you press it, the tool immediately stops. On such an occasion, you can deal with the issue and then complete the process by starting this time at any stage.

The machine is made out of metal, so you can expect a strong structure where you can work. A motor is included that allows the machinist to perform precise cuts regardless of the material. This is also considered a powerful CNC machine that can operate without problems on many diverse surfaces. 

When it comes to wood, you should expect an excellent performance from this machine. You can cut only pure aluminum or copper with this machine. So, this machine is suitable only for very soft metals.

It has a wide and remarkable working area of 300mm by 400 mm by 600 mm. The integrated motor offers an extraordinary power of 400W, which makes cutting and engraving quick and straightforward.

Pros

  • Smooth milling
  • Wide working area
  • Tough and durable

Cons

  • Expensive machine available

Check it out here

Beginner Friendly CNC Machines for Aluminum

I know that some of you are taking your first steps into CNC machining. Therefore, starting small is essential if you don’t have someone with experience. If that’s your case, I would recommend Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit or Benbox CNC Router. Those machines would be excellent choices for hobbyists or beginners.

Conclusion

I have listed several machines that can help you achieve any type of project. I am confident that you will find one with all the features you need without overpaying those you don’t need. Now, let’s talk more about CNC applications on aluminum.

Is Aluminum a Good Material for CNC Projects

For CNC machining tasks or projects, aluminum is a common choice because of its desirable physical properties. So, using aluminum for CNC projects is often favorable. Let’s find out why.

Why Aluminum is a Great Choice for CNC Projects

You might be wondering why aluminum is so popular among CNC machinists. Well, aluminum can be cast, melted, formed like the other metals. However, what makes the use of aluminum widespread are the following factors.

Excellent Machinability: Unlike other metals with the same properties, aluminum provides superb machinability. Many of its grades can be penetrated efficiently by your cutting tools, and they chip easily, whereas being comfortable to form and shape. It can be machined over three times faster compared to steel and iron. 

This metal is available in many various alloys, each one with slightly different properties. Thus, some alloys might be easier to shape, mill as well as cut. 

Some of them are too soft and can be hard to work with. As a matter of fact, it might create a gummy buildup once machined or cut close to its melting temperature. 

Considerable Strength: It’s a tough and strong element that gives unique mechanical properties to parts. It might be less strong than steel but still, engineers design structures where aluminum pieces face tremendous stresses and tensions.

Lightweight: This is a super lightweight metal only weighs 2.7 g/cm3. It has many applications like in cars to reduce dead weight. In many cases, aluminum alloys have a better strength/weight ratio than steel. 

Corrosion Resistance: A significant difference between steel and aluminum is that aluminum has a corrosion-resistant oxidized outer layer. As we know, rust doesn’t stop oxygen molecules from destroying steel. On the other hand, aluminum is a metal that naturally produces a protective thin oxide coating that keeps it from making more contact with the corrosive oxygen. It is valuable for applications where it is exposed to corroding substances, as in cars and shipbuilding. That’s a fundamental reason why CNC machinists choose this metal for their projects.

Thermal and Electrical Conductivity: This is a great electricity and heat conductor. Comparing it with copper, for the same weight, aluminum is virtually twice as good a conductor as copper. This is the reason why it is the first choice for power transmission lines where the conductivity/weight ratio must be high.

Ductility: This metal is also ductile and has a low melting density and point. Aluminum can be processed in many ways in a molten state. That’s another critical reason why CNC machinists use it on many structures. It’s a less stiff material that is easy to cut.

Non-magnetic: This is a non-magnetic metal, making it valuable for electrical shielding as in computer disks, busbars, and dish antennas. Creating panels for those objects are some of the most common applications of CNC Machines.

Which Types of Aluminum are Perfect for CNC Projects?

Knowing the best metal for CNC machining can be an overwhelming and challenging task. Most of the time, it will be easy to determine which metal’s alloy is better to use.

Many factors have to be considered when choosing a material for a product or part, including the price, strength, workability, corrosion, weight, and cosmetic appearance. When it comes to aluminum, there are lots of alloys and metals which can be utilized for CNC machining. Let us review the most useful ones and the reasons behind our pick.

Aluminum 6061: This type of aluminum comes with exceptional mechanical properties as well as superb weldability. Because of its high strength, toughness, and super corrosion resistance in harsh conditions, it’s a very useful alloy. Aluminum 6061 is popularly utilized in five-axis CNC machining. 

Aluminum 7075: Another popular alloy renowned for its superb fatigue strength is the 7075. However, keep in mind that 7075 isn’t ideal for welding. Therefore, it is perfect for tough parts like bicycle parts, fuselages, aircraft wings, and rock climbing kits. So, it’s pretty much evident that there is an extended usage of it on CNC projects.

Aluminum 2024: This alloy has an enormous amount of applications in the aerospace and military sector. Let’s see the reasons why it is a great choice in those industries. It’s possible due to its mechanical properties, such as high strength and remarkable weariness resistance. However, it has low corrosion resistance, and it’s not weldable. 

It has low hardness and high thermal expansion. It can be easily deformed once machined into a thin part. Despite that, there are vital steps that must be followed to stop the material’s deformation in advance. 

What Type of CNC Machines Is Mostly Used on Aluminum?

A common question that you might have is how commonly the various types of CNC technology are used for tasks on aluminum. Actually, the use of it is similar to most machine types. Most aluminum related projects have to do with the following CNC machine types.

CNC Routers: That was pretty obvious if you are familiar with the industry. Routers perform excellently on aluminum.

Plasma Cutters: A type of machine which utilizes plasma torches to cut through metal effectively. The device’s accuracy makes it a number one choice because it just melts the area you are working on. 

Laser Cutters: On those CNC machines, laser beams are used to cut through aluminum. 

Milling Machines: Such a machine allows you to drill and trim parts to make components and precision parts. CNC milling machines are used all over the world for different industrial and manufacturing needs. It is ideal for CNC cutting tools because you can perform many tasks like shoulder and face milling, drilling, tapping, and turning. 

Final Thoughts

Before closing, I would like to mention some of my thoughts. CNC has to do a lot with experimenting on new designs and materials. The key idea is to have a CNC machine that doesn’t stop you from becoming better at CNC due to its limited capabilities. However, you don’t want to overspend by buying specs that you don’t need. So basically, you want a machine that can perform slightly more difficult tasks than you are expecting to have.

I hope that you have found great value in this article. You can read more about CNC in other articles on my website.

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