Posted on May 14, 2024

The Best Metals for CNC Machining Services

CNC machine being used on a sheet of stainless steel

The good news: We get to talk about CNC machining services this month. The bad news: There is none because we get to talk about CNC machining services this month! We’ve got the CNC chops to produce large quantities and large format jobs for a variety of industries, and we’re sharing a bit of our expertise into what goes into selecting the right metal for each CNC job.

Why are we so excited about this? Because autonomous machines are pretty cool and we love being able to work with them. So what is CNC machining? It uses computerized controls to operate machine tools based on input from human users (us). Not only is seeing these machines in action a sight to behold, but the level of precision and efficiency they provide makes them an invaluable part of what we do.

The machines themselves aren’t the only determining factor in the end product, of course. When you choose us for your large-scale CNC machining projects, it’s still up to you to decide which metals to use in the process (with help from us if needed, of course). Making this selection does require a little bit of understanding, so let’s get into it.

Material Properties

The strength and hardness of a metal are factors in its ability to survive force and resist deformation. If you turned Metallica and Pantera from metal bands to actual metal, they’d be different types; both great, but with different characteristics. It’s the same with materials used in machining!

But strength isn’t the only determining factor. Ductility allows a material to be formed without fracturing, which helps in the manufacturing process. Meanwhile, corrosion resistance, thermal conductivity, and electrical conductivity are all things you need to keep in mind when selecting your metals. While it would be great if there was a metal that somehow had the best of every attribute, there are usually tradeoffs, that make the decision difficult. It’s like choosing between an album with great vocals but bad guitar solos and one with the opposite.

Types of Metals Used in CNC Machining

Speaking of different metals and their properties, we’ve compiled a list of metals used in CNC machining services along with their pros and cons!

  • Aluminum: Lightweight but strong, aluminum boasts excellent corrosion resistance and machinability.
  • Stainless Steel: There’s a reason Superman is called the Man of Steel and not the Man of Aluminum. Stainless steel is quite strong and resistant to corrosion. Also, like Clark Kent himself, many consider it to be easy on the eyes.
  • Brass: The golden color brass makes it a popular choice for aesthetic products, and it’s pretty machinable! Add in low friction and high corrosion resistance, and this is a great choice.
  • Titanium: This is the best option for applications that require little weight and lots of strength. It’s often used in aerospace applications and medical environments.
  • Copper: This one is the heavy hitter if you’re looking for high electrical and thermal conductivity. That’s why you see it used so widely in electrical wiring and other components.
  • Carbon Steel: This one is another strong, tough metal, but its added benefit is affordability. It’s readily available in most places and can be used in various applications across industries. This is an important thing to consider in large projects that will require a lot of materials.

Application Consideration

Before we make a decision on which metal is best for our jobs, we try to imagine it in the conditions it will be used within. Is it appropriate for the situation, or is it like blasting Iron Maiden in a retirement home?

Choosing metals with the right mechanical properties (strength, hardness, ductility, and toughness) is vital to meet project requirements. If your product will be applied in harsh weather conditions, corrosion resistance and durability are a must. And while you’re at it, consider the surface finish requirements of the final product.

One important thing to remember is that regulatory and compliance considerations should be made in all situations. Industry standards need to be followed!

Time to Get Machining

Choosing the right metal for your CNC machining services is a lengthy process involving several factors, but it’s worth every step to ensure perfection. With enough diligence, your end solution can last years thanks to high quality and cost-effectiveness.

When you’re doing that quick Google search for “CNC machining near me,” you might find plenty of options. But like choosing the right metals, you have to know which company will provide great service. At EDCO Fabrication, we’re used to handling monster orders that require thousands of components to be produced. If you need help navigating the large web of options and considerations in metals and CNC machining, we’re happy to help you and give you the final product you deserve!