A CNC Router is primarily known for cutting plastic and wood.
As a result, people often raise the question, can I used a CNC router for cutting aluminum?
The answer to this question is definitely yes. No matter what CNC Router you may use, you can use it to cut aluminum – provided that you do it in the right way.
If you know all the necessary tips and tricks to successfully cut aluminum using a CNC Router, you will find it to be both productive as well as easy-to-do.
But, before selecting any one of the below, I want to tell you that it is not an easy task to select a CNC machine. As you are looking for the one for aluminum there are some things which are a must have in your CNC router.
Although every router can cut aluminum. However, there are some router specially designed for cutting aluminum. We have enlisted those routers below.
Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit
Best For Beginners
Online and offline controlled.
SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router Machine 3018-PROVer
Best For Multi Purpose Uses
Professional mach3 software.
MYSWEETY DIY CNC Router Kits 1610
Aluminum cutting plate.
Gowe 1013 Inch CNC Router
Heavy-Duty For Experts
VEVOR CNC Router 3020 4 Axis
For Wide Range Working Area
Best aluminum engraving.
Cut settings of a CNC router for Aluminum:
Generally, almost all of the CNC routers are capable of cutting aluminum. You have to set up the machine perfectly for that.
The most important fact is that the machine as well has to have all the required capacities to perform excellently.
Feature for aluminum cutting:
Let's make it clear first,
Instead of talking about how to cut aluminum, I want to talk about the settings you are going to need in order to operate the machine for working with aluminum.
First thing first,
You have to at least have a basic idea of the operating parts of the CNC router before making a purchase. If you do not have so, then do some research on the spindle motors, feeds and speed, bits and flutes etc.
At the end of this article,
You will have a clear picture of what and how of the cut setting which is required for aluminum.
Why is this important?
If your machine is imbalanced and you start working without knowing about the proper settings, you might end up breaking machine parts or your aluminum work-piece. This might result in costly for you.
If you are a beginner in the CNC machine world or want to design or do art works it is a must that you know everything before making a purchase.
I do not want to extend the talkings more. Let's begin with the important fact.
While working with aluminum we generally work with the 6061 alloy ones. Aluminum is a sticky metal and it always wants to stick to the tools. As a result there appears the need of lubrication and chip cleaning.
For the cutters, there are special cutters of aluminum as well. You have to be sure if the cutters can be used in your CNC machine before making a purchase.
Feeds and speeds:
Optimization of feeds and speeds is a must if you are looking for a better result while working with your aluminum.
When you are milling or drilling with your CNC machine the feed rate must be determined. The speed depends on the hardness of the metal.
The appropriate feeds and speed are the keys which are the keys to getting better tool life, the fastest machining time, and a good surface finish.
The milling speed (Using HSS end mills) for
Aluminum 7075 is 300 SFM (Surface feet per minute)
Aluminum 6061 is 280 SFM
Aluminum 2024 is 200 SFM and
Aluminum cast 134 SFM
If you are using a HSS drill, the drilling speed for aluminum is 250 SFM.
The tool feed in case of end mills for aluminum should be 0.005-0.010
Spindle speed is the rotational speed of your bit. It is measured in RPM. The rate of it in a CNC machine depends on the size of the bit that you are using.
You have to calculate the spindle speed depending on the aluminum type you are using. There are many online calculators available online. Calculate perfectly for the best result in case of your aluminum type.
Along with the other parameters of tooling aluminum, chip load is equally important. If you want to acquire the desired finish and accuracy you have to be careful about the chip load.
The chip load varies as per the feed rate and the speed of the CNC router you are using. Achieving the proper chip load is also necessary in case of working with aluminum as well.
Look at the table below.
.003” - .004”
.005” - .007”
.006” - .008”
1/2” & up
.008” - .010”
Well, this is a wrap, this is the requirements or calculations which you have to keep in mind while using a CNC machine.
If you are working on aluminum and your CNC machine is not capable of giving you the accurate cut setting then you have invested in the wrong machine.
So before making a purchase of CNC machines do check and double check if the machines fulfill your demands. If they do not, you might end up being disappointed.
If you are using a HSS drill, the drilling speed for aluminum is 250 SFM.
The tool feed in case of end mills for aluminum should be 0.005-0.010.
Well, here is the main part which you have been waiting for. You want the best CNC aluminum router for you, right? I have listed below the best CNC routers for aluminum.
Let’s dive right in...
7 Best CNC Routers for Aluminum Cutting
1. Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit - For Beginners
The Genmitsu CNC router is specially designed for the beginners. If you are a student and love to make curved words or fancy designs on aluminum or wood, this can be the top pick for you.
It is functioned to help you engrave your coded designs on that aluminum sheet. Your DIY projects might find the best result if you are using this.
Attractive Key Features:
The CNC router is capable of routing all sorts of soft materials. It can cut or design on all types of plastics, woods, acrylics, PVCs and PCBs. It is also the best cutter of the sticky soft aluminum which has a risk of damaging.
The machine is also capable of engraving metals. You need to make the surface flat before working on it.
If you are using the appropriate bits, the machine is capable of carving on the surface of aluminum as well.
The machine supports OS. It can be run using windows XP, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
The coolest feature of the CNC router is that it has a SainSmart offline controller.
Yes, It means you can use it without connecting to any computer. You can adjust the X,Y,Z axis manually.
You do not have to seek any help from the computer and download any file. It easily fits in your workshop or garage as well.
Well built and reasonably priced:
The machine is well built and sturdy. You will be happy to see the parts after opening the box.
The parts are really well built keeping in mind the user experience. And for the price!
You will get better than what you paid for.
I have mentioned at the very beginning that the router is for the hobbyist.
It is a great CNC machine for the new learners. Do not expect too much professional or industrial performance from the machine.
From the above detailed description I hope there is no doubt in mind that this amazing CNC router has been made keeping the hobbyist in mind.
The router easily fits in your garage and your home. The operation is kept easy so that a learner can easily use and get the best out of it.
2. SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router Machine 3018-PROVer - For Multi Purpose Uses
Are you looking for a CNC router which is at the same time affordable and meets your professional needs?
Are you willing to climb the curve of the CNC world or eager to start your own business?
Then SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-MX3 is the best choice for you. The machine is the first one to be controlled by the amazing Mach3 software.
The machine is capable of drilling, milling, engraving, etc. It also makes it easier for you to work with Aluminium of all kinds.
Attractive Key Features:
The frame of this outstanding machine is built with aluminum. The Engraving working area is 260 x 144 x 35 mm. This will become a little bit reduced after the installation of the limit switch.
The RPM rate of the spindle motor is 10,000 which is enough for any sort of aluminum works.
The SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router is supported by Mach3 software. This professional software allows you to be an expert controller of the machine. The software is customizable and supports Windows and Mac OS.
The two 5mm baffles, attached on both sides of the machine ensures your safety If you want to closely monitor the engraving process.
To limit the engraving faults, the manufacturer has equipped the axis with a switch that limits the spindle from leaving the engraving area.
In case you are working with aluminum, this feature limits the risk of ruining the metals.
You can closely monitor what you are doing and stop/start in case of emergencies.
The machine is a perfect suit for all types of users. It is the best suit from hobbyists and industrial designers to the educators, engineers, etc.
You can convert your ideas into that real aluminum sheet you are working with.
It does not only work for Soft aluminum like metals, it also works with materials like wood, plastic etc.
Easy to assemble:
The machine does not come pre-assembled. Do not worry about it. You can easily assemble it by simply watching a youtube video.
Do you know what makes this machine different from the other conventional woodworking machines?
CNC 3018-MX3 has laser engraving features. You just have to replace the spindle with the laser module and you can engrave your aluminum working sheet with laser cut finish.
The laser module is not included in the machine purchase, you have to contact the manufacturer or your seller for the module and make a purchase for it.
At the end of the review of the product I want to mention that the well manufacturing and the versatility of the products make it hard to find any cons of it.
A perfect CNC machine for aluminum and the best suit for all types of CNC workers. What more do you expect from a CNC router machine than that?
3. MYSWEETY DIY CNC Router Kits 1610 - Budget-Friendly
My sweety 1610 is a budget-friendly light cutting CNC machine. This is a completely industrial cutting machine whose components contain mostly aluminum and plastic.
The amazing machine is easy to operate and comes with the latest operating systems.
Attractive key Features:
Best for cutting aluminum:
The GRBL operating software makes it one of the best tools to operate and cut through aluminum.
The best feature for the beginners is that you will be able to create the toolpaths by using the other installed softwares in it.
The motor is able to run at a speed of 7000 rpm, and this allows you to cut through your aluminum projects with ease.
Other working areas:
This CNC router is undoubtedly a good choice for cutting through aluminum. Apart from that, it is also capable of cutting through acrylic, wood, PVC, copper, and plastic effectively.
Sturdy and Stable:
The cutting plate of the router is built with aluminum. This gives it a sturdiness and stability.
You can operate the router completely by your computer. It is compatible with Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 and Linux.
Best choice for DIY:
This machine is completely designed for DIY projects. Keeping in mind the beginning of aluminum cutting the manufacturers have installed the GRBL control software.
Once you get used to it and know how to use it by doing a little bit of research, the portable experience will be satisfactory.
The router does not come assembled and it requires assembling. This is perfect for beginners but requires some knowledge for assembling.
Small cutting area:
The disappointing fact about Mysweety 1610 is that it has a small cutting area which makes the working area limited. As some of its components are made of plastic it can handle light tasks.
As I have mentioned earlier, this is a machine which is destined to meet the beginners choice. This is a cool CNC router which has all it needs to make the operation easy.
If you are new in this field, all you are going to need is the basic knowledge to assemble the machine. Being budget-friendly is another factor which makes it a better choice than the others.
4. Gowe 1013 Inch CNC Router - Heavy-Duty For Experts
Gowe 1013 is another aluminum cutting CNC router which comes with outstanding features.
It does not matter if you are looking to use it for industrial purposes. It is also suitable for technology research, student projects, or any sort of Arts creation.
Attractive Key Features:
Suitable for aluminum:
The CNC machine from Gowe is completely automatic and is capable of carving and drilling. The cutting ability of the machine cuts smoothly through the aluminum you are working with.
If you are doing any artwork on aluminum carving and drilling, you will feel like cutting through butter.
The machine not only makes working with aluminum easy, It also can work with wood, PVC, acrylic, plywood, or other soft metals.
Steady and strong:
The machine is well manufactured and equipped with an aluminum alloy frame.
The machine is simple to operate and after the installation, you will be surprised at how strong and steady it is.
Controlled by software:
The machine can be easily controlled by using the Mach3 software. Through the DB25 port of your computer, it communicates with the control box.
The software is very simple and intelligent. There is also an easy stop button in case you need while working.
Do not use a laptop:
It will be better if you do not use a laptop in operating the machine.
It requires a high voltage to operate and the voltages are not as high as a desktop.
You might also find slower signals to the motors if you are using a laptop.
From the features, you already know that you will need to have a minimum of technological knowledge in order to operate the machine.
From the above description, I am sure you have already got an idea of what this machine is capable of doing. It is one of the aluminum CNC routers which will match your both industrial or hobbyist needs.
Avoid using a laptop and in case of using a desktop be sure that it has a DB25 port installed.
Do not worry if you do not have any software operating experience or knowledge.
The machine comes with a guideline on how to operate the software. The software is simple to operate and doing a little bit of research makes it easier.
5. VEVOR CNC Router 3020 4 Axis - For Wide Range Working Area
Vevor CNC router is a router which is multi- functional. If you work on various types of material substances, then investing on this CNC router might be a great decision for you.
The multi functional router is capable of Engraving through soft metals like aluminum. It can also dig through other materials such as plastic, wood, PBC etc.
Attractive Key Features:
The cnc router is equipped with aluminum parts. The aluminum built parts make it a unit which you would love to have in your garage.
The aluminum backing plate and dust-proof plate allows you to clean without any toil.
Being aluminum made this product turns out to be heavy duty and durable.
The cnc router has a work table which covers 300 mm x 200 mm x 50 mm. Being equipped with 4 rotating axes the bits can easily move around and cut deep holes up to 50 mm depth.
Having such a set up can be really helpful if you are working with soft materials like aluminum. You will be able to craft through easily and make your designs you have fed into your computer.
The manufacturers have added USB ports along with the traditional disc operating. This gives the CNC router the adaptability to work with more operating systems.
As I mentioned earlier that the machine is equipped with 4 axes. The rotating axis helps one to engrave with high precision.
You will find it less noisy while working. All of this makes it an efficient CNC router to work with.
The CNC machine can be operated with windows xp, win 7- 32/64 bits.
Perfect for aluminum:
The machine's spindle speed is 0-8000rpm/min. Which is perfect for engraving or designing on aluminum. You have to adjust the rpm as per your needs.
Generally (0.8-24000) rpm is required to engrave through softer aluminum or aluminum alloyed materials. The carving speed of the machine is 0-1000 mm/min.
Though carving is not a simple thing and it has so many things to consider. Pick up the best speed you require for your job.
You might sometimes find it difficult for the machine to operate. The fact can be that finding no connection with the computer. You can contact your seller for the cause and find a solution to it.
I am pretty much sure you have already found out what makes it the best selling product among its types. It has all the functions included to engrave aluminum. You might not regret it after making that purchase.
6. Benbox DIY Mini 1310 Metal Engraving Milling Machine - Best For Softer Metals
This is a metal engraving machine which comes with the comfort of portability. The machine is well built. The size of it does not hamper its performance at all.
Rather it is able to engrave through as good as the other available routers in the market. Thinking about cutting or designing aluminum?
It performs on it as if it is a piece of cake.
Attractive Key Features:
The machine is a great cutter of softer materials. This can easily cut through copper, silver, aluminum and other soft metals. It is also applicable for other metals, plastic, wood, acrylic, etc.
Great software support:
The machine runs using the GRBL controller supporting system. The software can be run in Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 8.
If the software crashes somehow or you are facing issues using the machine you can download it from the link provided by the company or contact them.
The provided guideline of the machine makes it really easy to use. Though it is very small in size, it is comparatively rigid.
The machine has the motor on a separate power supply to avoid the over drowning of the GRBL shield.
The excellent and heavy duty motor in the machine makes it a best performer on aluminum.
The machine is solid built and is rigid and durable. It is long lasting as well.
The manufacturer tried their best to make it the best. The product is affordable and you will definitely get what you will pay for.
The machine does not come pre-assembled. You have to assemble it yourself. Follow the instructions to reduce the time consumption.
Not for beginners:
If you have just started with milling then this might not be the best product for you. You have to be aware while using it on your aluminum projects because it might end up ruining the machine.
To sum up, This is the best machine which is best for your aluminum projects. This machine will provide you a great service as well as satisfactory performance. You might not be disappointed seeing the finishing you will get.
7. JFT 6040 CNC Router 3 Axis Metal Engraving Machine - Premium For Industrial Uses
If you are looking for engraving, making signs, making nameplates, construction models, etc on soft materials like aluminum, then CNC6040 is suitable for the purpose.
It is a versatile machine for all sorts of industrial purposes, art designs, teaching, etc as well. The product is easy to operate and comes with a 1-year free warranty of the machine parts.
Attractive Key Features:
Steady and durable:
The frame of the machine is equipped with aluminum alloy frame materials. As a result, the machine turns out to be really steady while working and the durability makes it a good choice.
Limited operation trouble:
The machine comes with a travel limit switch which limits The XYZ axis. This limits the trouble while operating the machine.
You will be avoiding mistakes while working by dint of this feature. If you are working with aluminum, this limit switch might prove to be a god saver.
Best for aluminum:
The machine weighs 72Kg which is the best thing to keep your machine steady while milling your aluminum sheet. The working area is 840×480×20mm which is a large space to work on.
The X, Y, Z, axis traveling range is 400x600x100mm. This allows the machine to move more space which is necessary for working on large space projects.
The max feeding speed is 4500 mm/min which is more than enough to work on aluminum.
The CNC machine is also built with a two-phase stepping motor and a water-cooled spindle. The maximum speed is 24000 RPM which will cut through aluminum like butter.
While working with the machine be aware and always be careful about the cooling. Metals like aluminum get stuck to machine parts and might damage your work if the spindle is not let to cool down.
You do not have to brush the spindle, It comes with a high quality water cooling. But if you are using a blow air cooling machine then you might need to brush.
Well, After reading all this, you might admit it is one of the best CNC machines for aluminum. This has all the features which are required for industrial machining.
In the case of aluminum, you might not find a better option than this.
The difference between wood or plastic and aluminum cutting
To begin with, cutting aluminum using a CNC Router has its complexities as compared to cutting plastic or wood with it.
Firstly, aluminum is a weak and sticky metal which tends to stick on to the cutting tool, leaving gummy metal deposits on the cutting edges.
As a result, aluminum tends to weld itself to the tool and it can be quite challenging to remove the chips.
Secondly, aluminum has a much narrower range of acceptable feeds and speeds than plastic or wood.
If you go outside the range of acceptable feeds and speeds, cutters tend to begin to break and they wear out much quicker.
Consequently, the surface finishing will be poor. In a nutshell, in spite of these complexities, you can productively cut aluminum using any CNC Router.
How to cut Aluminum with CNC Router?
Use CNC Router Bits:
A CNC Router uses various specialized cutters that do not need to be used for cutting aluminum, such as Compression Cutters and Downcut Spirals.
Therefore, you need cutters particularly made for cutting aluminum. Majority of CNC Routers use two or three flute carbide endmills for cutting aluminum.
This aids in bumping up the suggested rpm to ensure that your cutters are good with the high rpm CNC Router Spindles to work at.
“Surface Speed” is the measurement that determines this. You can favor Carbide cutters instead of HSS cutters as they can work much faster.
Use Bits with three or fewer flutes:
When cutting aluminum, you produce large chips. Therefore, fewer flutes provide more space among the cutting edges, and hence, providing more area for large chips to go through.
On the contrary, if there are too many flutes, the chips would jam up the flutes and you will end up with a broken cutter.
Use cutters with smaller diameter:
Using smaller diameter cutters is another way of bumping up the rpm. You can reduce to a quarter-inch maximum and usually less.
When using smaller diameter, you need more rigid cutters in order to avoid the problem of tool deflection. Carbide cutters are an example of rigid cutters.
Using a Feeds and Speeds Calculator:
Whether a person is cutting plastic or wood or aluminum, anyone that uses a CNC Router can benefit from using a Feeds and Speeds Calculator.
However, cutting aluminum using a CNC Router is not a walk in the park.
So, you need to know the right way to do it. When cutting aluminum, unlike cutting plastic or wood, you would have a much narrower window for your feeds and speeds.
Therefore, in this case, you need to be particularly precise when calculating the feeds and speeds.
Whichever Feeds and Speeds Calculator you may use, make sure that it has the correct features for a CNC Router.
Here are some of the significant features for a CNC Router that you need to look for in a Feeds and Speeds Calculator:
1) CNC Router Cutter Types: Some of the important features that come of use to CNC Router users are down-cut bits, compression bits, and V-Bits.
2) Deflection: Tool deflection is a crucial feature that explains a lot of damaged tools.
Make sure that the Feeds and Speeds Calculator you have can determine the deflection and it can aid in looking for solutions that abstain from too much deflection.
3) Minimum rpm setting: Make sure that the Feeds and Speeds Calculator does not keep informing you to go slower than possible.
4) Chip Thinning: In order to abstain from prematurely wearing out the tools, the Feeds and Speeds Calculator needs to compensate when you take light cuts.
To elaborate, when you take light cuts that have a breadth less than half the diameter of the cutter, you end up with chip thinning.
5) Rubbing Warning: When you reduce the feed rates too much, the cutter stops cutting the chips in a nice and clean way, rather it starts cutting along on the surfaces.
This is known as rubbing and it can potentially shorten tool life as it generates heat.
Therefore, having a Feeds and Speeds Calculator that provides you with rubbing warning would help you prevent this.
Do not rush
Even though you can cut aluminum just fine using a CNC Router, it is not a suitable tool to cut out large aerospace parts such as wing spars.
Therefore, in order to succeed in effectively cutting aluminum using a CNC Router, it is crucial to take things slow.
By “taking things slow” we do not literally mean slowing down the feeds and speeds.
What we mean is that your total Material Removal Rates will be less than what you can get using a purpose-built CNC mill.
In other words, you need to slow down your removal of material because rushing things could potentially lead to errors and imperfections in your work.
Therefore, load up the CNC Router, press the green button, then just sit back and let the machine do its thing.
At The End Of The Day...
I am sure that you have all the ideas about the CNC routers that are capable of cutting, milling, drilling into aluminum. Now, go ahead and choose the perfect one meeting your needs.
I have listed the ones for beginners, the top pick, the best seller, the DIY CNC routers, the industrial ones and the best pick.
The fact that might now have an impact on you is the price. Look for the affordable ones with most available features meeting your requirements.
Best of luck !