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

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

    The customer was a western Australia company offering professional service and engineered solutions for fluid systems around the world. This aluminum prototype was made to test its liquid pressure before low volume manufacture. Considering the big overall dimensions and multi-sided machining need, shape stability and tolerance were the key points for this aluminum prototype manufacturing. In addition, one deep hole was CNC bored as it was out of the milling capability, and a customized tapper was made for tapping 1-1/2" BSPT.

CNC aluminum machining
Prototyping Step By Step:

Step 1: CNC Machining the First Side. The part was in coarse machining by a big cutting tool. As an subtractive manufacturing process, CNC machining cut away the unwanted material from a block of square material to form the desired part, and the material block's dimensions were normally around (L×W×H) 30×30×5 mm bigger than the part's overall dimensions. To get a high machining efficiency, normally using big milling cutters to fast remove the unwanted material at first, then using the small cutters to mill the fine and detailed features till the final part came out gradually.

Step 2: CNC Machining the Second Side. For the multi-sided machined part or prototype made by 3 axis CNC machining, the workpiece had to be rotated manually each time when changing to mill the another side of the part, so the CNC machinist must carefully and accurately relocate the workpiece to ensure the milled tolerance and shape stability. Total 5 sides of this aluminum prototype needed to be milled, and an ABS fixture was made to help prevent the workpiece deformation when machining the other sides of this prototype showed as the right photo.
CNC aluminum milling

Aluminum CNC Machining
Aluminum CNC milling

Step3: CNC Machining the Third Side. The general shape of this prototype came out when finished milling the first and second sides that took the majority milling time, the third side's work was milling the holes as well as the fourth side.
Step 4: CNC Machining the Fifth Side. One of the two deep holes on this side had to be CNC bored instead of milled as it was out of the milling capability since the part geometry, so just a small hole was milled to guide boring this deep hole.

cnc aluminum milled prototype
aluminum anodizing

Step 5: Finished Milling this Aluminum Prototype. After tapping 1-1/2" BSPT by a customized tapper and M12×1.5, boring the deep hole, all milling lines and burrs on the surface were removed by hand sanding before the next anodizing finish.
Step 6: Final Aluminum Anodizing Blue Finish. The anodizing finish provided not only aesthetic feeling but also corrosion and abrasion resistance for the part anodized, different color and gloss could be reached by the anodizing finish.

Aluminum milled and anodized prototype
Step 7: Finished Final Prototype for Shipping. The customer from Australia did the prototype's liquid pressure testing and it worked fine for their system, also was pleased with the surface finish quality as well as the impressive customer service we provided, then gone ahead the 10 pcs of low volume manufacture shortly.

How to Make a Good Aluminum Anodized Prototype:

• Quality material used. The anodizing effect was tremendously affected by the aluminum material composition, good material got quality anodizing finish.
• Reasonable CNC milling. The milling process not only influenced the tolerance and shape stability, also the surface finishing time and quality.
• Professional anodizing process. Different anodizing color and gloss could be achieved well by a professional anodizing process.

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