Aluminum Machined and Anodized Prototype
  • Aluminum Machined and Anodized Prototype
  • 1. Project Overview:

    Prototyping Process: CNC Machining and Boring
    Prototyping Material: Aluminum 6061-T6
    Part Dimension: 390.00 × 213.00 × 130.00 mm
    Surface Finishing: Sanding, Tapping 1-1/2" BSPT and M12×1.5, Anodizing Blue
    Prototype Tolerance: ± 0.10 mm
    Lead Time: 7 Days

    Manufacturing tolerance is the key point for this aluminum prototype manufacturing considering the part overall dimensions and its multi-sided machining need by 3 axis CNC milling. Accurate workpiece relocation when changing side machining is the vital step to ensure the CNC prototyping tolerance. In addition, one deep hole is CNC bored instead of machined, tapping 1-1/2" BSPT is for sealing function.

2. Prototyping Step By Step:

Step 1: CNC machining the first side. To achieve a high quality CNC machined part or prototype, it needed several basic factors including CNC machines with strong cutting capability, CNC programming with reasonable tool path, CNC machinist with solid experience. As an subtractive manufacturing process, CNC machining always started from coarse machining with big diameter cutting tool to fine machining with small diameter cutting tool to get maximum productivity and detailed features.

CNC aluminum machining

CNC aluminum milling
Step 2: CNC machining the second side. For 3 axis CNC machining the part or prototype with multi-sided machining need, it must be very careful to accurately relocate the workpiece when manually changing side machining to ensure the machined part tolerance and shape stability, sometimes fixture assistance applied when necessary, especially for milling the material with weak stiffness, such as Polypropylene (PP), since this kind of material was easy to deform during its CNC machining, in this case usually the fixtures were fabricated to tightly hold the workpiece to prevent its deformation during milling.

Aluminum CNC Machining
Aluminum CNC milling

Step 3: CNC machining the third side. The primary shape of this aluminum prototype was created when finished the third side CNC machining.
Step 4: CNC machining the fourth side. One deep hole on this side had to be CNC Bored instead of Machined as it was out of the CNC machining capability.

CNC aluminum milled prototype
aluminum anodizing

Step 5: All sides CNC machining finished aluminum part without CNC boring the deep hole and tapping 1-1/2" BSPT and M12×1.5. Before aluminum hard blue anodizing, all the machined burr and cutting lines were removed and sanded off. The purposes of aluminum anodizing: Colors decoration; Improving abrasion and corrosion resistance; Stronger surface adhesion to other coatings.
Step 6: Aluminum dark blue anodizing. The clamped points of holding the aluminum part by the clamp for anodizing in the liquid chemical vat could not be anodized well, which resulted in grey blemishes on the clamped points of the anodizing part. Normally, appearance surface would not be clamped to avoid the visual blemishes.

Aluminum milled and anodized prototype
Step 7: Finished aluminum prototype for delivery. Customer from Australia tested the liquid pressure of the arrived prototype and was satisfied with the testing result as well as the surface finishing quality and the customer service we offered, then gone ahead for the low volume manufacturing of 10 units.

3. Conclusion:

The quality of aluminum milled and anodized prototype was decided by the factors:

• The material application. The aluminum material composition tremendously affected the anodizing effect, good material resulted in excellent anodizing quality.
• The CNC milling capability. Strong CNC milling capability ensured not only the tight tolerance and good productivity, also the quality milled part surface.
• The anodizing finish. Good aluminum anodizing finish provided not only attractive colors decoration and also the stronger abrasion and corrosion resistance.

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