At Multicam Great Lakes, we are often asked if it’s possible to cut steel composite materials, such as Duraplate or Maxmetal Element, on our CNC Routers. I’ve (Greg Smolka, Tooling Manager at Multicam Great Lakes) heard conflicting statements, so I thought I’d do some testing and share the findings. The goal was to not only cut the material but to also find out how the tools fare and find the optimal feeds and speeds to achieve the best quality. A customer sent us some Duraplate and we were off to the races.
Duraplate composite panels were invented by Wabash National in Lafayette, Indiana (1996) for freight trailers, truck bodies and portable storage containers. It consists of two skins (80,000 psi-yield galvanized steel) that sandwich a high density polyethylene core. Coatings on the steel insure longevity and corrosion protection. It doesn’t absorb moisture and beats out the previous method of using plywood or fiberglass reinforced panels that rip and splinter. Since this creation has come about, other applications include military, building, storage, and industrial products.
With an array of research and testing, we found that an Onsrud, ESG coated, 4 flute bit is the tool for the job. The bits are produced with cutting steel in mind. The ESG coating makes them durable and long lasting. No other cnc bit, that we tested, offered near as well of a finish.
Routing the duraplate at 114 IPM / 14,000 RPM with MXQ2650009 (BUY HERE) worked perfectly once we found out that climb cut was the proper direction. Our plunge rate was 70 IPM and we used an alcohol based, X-Edge, misting fluid (BUY HERE). It left behind a healthy chip size and a clean cut. We started with a 4’ X 4’ square and cut smaller and smaller squares until we only had 6” by 6” left. The bit we used could have cut much more before finally getting dull, so we can assume that the tool life is long when running it properly.
We also tried cutting at different feeds and speeds without any luck. Cutting faster caused the spoil board to burn, decreased cut quality, and a loud screeching sound from the tool hitting the material. I would expect the tool to wear out very fast if run faster than recommended as well as being a fire hazard. Cutting slower than recommended didn’t leave as nice of cut quality and could possibly lead to tools breaking and wearing fast.
Quick Details / Recommendations:
- Material: 6mm steel composite material (Duraplate)
- CNC Bit: Onsrud # MXQ2650009 (BUY HERE)
- Feed Rate: 114 IPM
- Plunge Rate: 70 IPM
- Spindle Speed: 14,000 RPM
- Number of Passes: 1
- Misting: Yes. Alcohol-based X-Edge Misting Fluid (BUY HERE)
This is the first of many articles to come related to CNC routing on this website. We will also be sharing videos and updates on our social media pages. Stay up-to-date with Multicam Great Lakes by following us on LinkedIn, Facebook, or YouTube.
If you need any help cutting specific materials on your CNC Router or Knife Cutter, please call me at (616) 502-7277. I (Greg Smolka) manage the tooling department, where we are a distributor for CNC tooling. I work with some of the best tooling suppliers in the world, such as Onsrud, X-Edge, Techniks, Whiteside, Belin, Amana and more. Feel free to check out our online webstore to see some of what we offer. Thanks for stopping by.
CNC Tooling Manager at Multicam Great Lakes
Here to help with tooling recommendations (bits, knives, collets, tool holders, cleaners and kits, torque stations, etc.) and cutting recommendations (speeds/feeds, direction, passes, etc.).