Cutting aluminum on a CNC router is very common. The two questions I always ask a customer when they ask for cutting recommendations is “what grade aluminum is it?” and “are you using misting fluid?” Sometimes it is referred to as lubricant. Regardless, misting fluid/lubricant is essential when CNC routing any grade of aluminum.
When cutting aluminum, the CNC bit and the aluminum itself generate heat. Misting fluid comes in either an alcohol- or vegetable-based liquid that keeps the bit and material cool. It is especially crucial when longer or heavier cutting operations take place. This will allow for improved cut quality, an increase in bit life, and put less pressure on a CNC machines’ spindle. If you know anything about CNC routing, these factors are the name of the game. Better cut quality equates to generating and retaining customers. Increased tool life not only saves time but also cuts costs. Less pressure on a machine’s spindle will allow the spindle to operate properly for a longer period of time. This is why misting fluid is essential.
Alcohol-Based Misting Fluid
An alcohol-based lubricant is the most popular because it excessively cools down the material and tooling more than alternatives. It also evaporates, leaving less fluid on the cut-out material, creating less after-processing. Alcohol-based misting fluid is know as the max performance fluid and is recommended in most cases.
Vegetable-Based Misting Fluid
A vegetable-based lubricant, though is not as popular, has its place in the industry. My customers who currently use this product have either wanted a more “green” approach to their process or have little-to-no fume evacuation in their workshop. Most workshops have dust evacuation systems and air flowing in and out of their facility. For those who don’t, this may be a great alternative.
Since we are on the topic of cutting aluminum, let’s briefly review the DLC coated aluminum-cutting bits. The additional coating will help decrease heat being generated while cutting aluminum and allow for longer tool life. For very light aluminum cutting, these have even been capable of being used without misting fluid. I personally still recommend using lubricant, but this is a way of doing a one- or two-off project without it. The customer who makes the switch to the DLC Viper Bit typically does not go back to a non-coated bit due to the increase in tool life and cut quality.
This is one 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, and 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) 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 LMT Onsrud, X-Edge, Techniks, Whiteside, LMT Belin, Amana Tool, Emuge, and more. Feel free to check out our online webstore to see some of what we offer. Thanks for stopping by.
CNC Tooling & Applications 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 (feeds/speeds, tips/tricks, # of passes, etc.).