If you’ve finished designing your part but aren’t sure which material to select, you’ve come to the right place. Several overarching types of materials can be used in CNC machining: metals, plastics, ceramics, composites, and wood.
Each material has unique characteristics and challenges that influence the final product properties and the overall manufacturing process. This article will explore the types of materials that can be machined and help you choose the appropriate material for your product.
5 Types of Materials Used in CNC Machining
The main categories of materials used in CNC machining are metals, plastics, ceramics, composites, and wood. Within these categories, there are tons of unique materials, each with specific properties. The following guidelines represent a general approach to materials selection for precision manufacturing, so you should consult with an expert when looking for particular properties.
Metals are the most common CNC machining materials. CNC machined metals are regularly used in aerospace, automotive, electronic, and even medical applications. Steel, aluminum, brass, copper, and titanium are all machinable metals.
(Related Post: Aluminum Prototype Manufacturing: How do You Determine the Best Method?)
Plastics are another common CNC machining material manufacturers can use for refrigeration components, electronics, toys, sports, and other industries. Commonly machined plastics include acrylic, polycarbonate, PVC, and even nylon.
(Related Post: CNC Machining Plastic Prototypes: Is it the Best Choice?)
While the CNC machining of ceramics is complex, it does see use in some advanced applications. Space shuttle engine components, tank armor, and superconductors are some examples of machined ceramics. Due to their brittle nature, advanced machining operations are required to produce a durable and reliable ceramic part.
Composites are another material that can be incredibly challenging for CNC machining. Indeed, they often require diamond tooling and 5-axis CNC machines to complete. Machined composites are extremely useful for automotive, aerospace, and power generation industry applications.
Finally, there is the wood category. The CNC machining of wood is generally limited to more artistic applications like furniture and decoration. However, it can also be used in some structural applications.
As we have noted, some classes of materials are more difficult to machine than others. You may be wondering about what properties determine machinability and whether or not a particular material would be a good choice for your project. To help you choose which CNC material is best for your project, we will give you a closer look at the properties you may have to consider.
Essential Factors to Consider When Choosing a Material