Posted on: Aug 1, 2018, | By Candy, WayKen Marketing Manager
What is Aluminum Rapid Prototyping?
The modern design factors and marketing realities push the engineers and companies to come up with their finished products by spending the least possible time and budget during the design phase. In order to achieve this feat, rapid prototyping is used to fulfill these market demands. Aluminum rapid prototyping comprises two distinctive techniques. The additive prototyping and subtractive prototyping. Additive aluminum prototyping, especially CNC aluminum is the process under which the virtual 3D designs are used to build up the prototype via depositing aluminum layers. The prototypes are built from bottom up. Laser-sintering and 3D printing are best-known examples of additive rapid prototyping.
Subtractive aluminum prototyping is the process via which prototypes are built through repetitive cutting of the material from a solid block of aluminum. Under this process, prototypes are made from top to bottom. Subtractive prototyping is done via CNC machining which includes milling, turning, milling and other standard machining processes.
Subtractive rapid prototyping is said to be faster, economical and better as compared to its counterparts. And why not your company goes for it as compared to laser-sintering, 3D printing and other available techniques in the market.
A brief about aluminum and its alloys
Aluminum is said to exhibit low density but higher strength, the strength that surpasses that of high-quality steel. It also has excellent plasticity, high resistance to corrosion as well as exceptional electroplating and welding characteristics. Aluminum being relatively cheap and abundant in nature reduces the overhead cost due to faulty production or prototypes wasted due to bad design. It can also be easily recycled which further aids in cheaper manufacturing. This material also has high toughness and less deformation after manufacturing, making it an ideal material to be used by many companies for prototyping purposes.
How is Aluminum Rapid Prototyping Carried Out?
As discussed earlier, there are a number of traditional and modern ways to have your prototype come into existence. Here we will be discussing the CNC manufacturing technique for Aluminum rapid prototyping.
Depending on what sort of machine you are using for the CNC of prototype, determines what process you have to carry out for effective aluminum prototyping. Generally, you have to feed in the system with a CAD product design and have it converted to vectors so that the machine can read off the coordinates. Once the file is uploaded and the vectors are traced, the tool and the tool path are selected to cut the block into shape. It can be a .75-inch core box bit or .25-inch v-bit. Along with the cutting depth for the aluminum prototyping, the speed of cutting can also be altered.
Once the tool, its speed and the depth are selected, the toolpath is then fed to the CNC machine. You can either cut outside the vectors, inside the vectors or trace the vectors. The method of cutting varies drastically and is based upon the machinist, the machine and the design complexity. The vectors are then converted to G-code and the centre of the block is determined. The CNC router is jogged right at the centre of the block and touches the face of it. This point is set and termed as absolute zero. The CNC machine then reads off the G-code and starts the prototyping process.
When machining aluminum, one of the biggest failure modes that exist is its flakes adhering to the cutting edge of the tool. This degrades the cutting ability which adversely affects the prototyping output. The cutting tool and material coating on the tool, both are carefully selected in order to reduce the chances of aluminum build up on the cutting tool.
Aluminum rapid prototyping at WayKen
At WayKen, we have three main concerns when prototyping aluminum. They are to ensure that there is a good chip evacuation from the cutting edge, there is minimal adhesion of aluminum to the cutting tool during machining and that the core strength of the tool is maintained and sufficient to counter and withstand the cutting forces without failing. The tools employed for the prototyping ranges from straight grade (K) of cemented carbides, high-speed steels to diamond-based tools. Enhanced industry grade 5-axis machines are also used effectively used in order to produce the aluminum prototype of the utmost quality.
Industries and development of aluminum rapid prototyping
Aluminum rapid prototyping is used in many industries as a prime method of prototype manufacturing. Industries such as aircraft, high-tech and automotive all incorporate heavy use of aluminum rapid prototyping. Big shots such as Boeing, Icon, and Tesla all make use of rapid prototyping for the manufacturing of their aluminum parts. Aluminum rapid prototyping is able to handle complex designs with ease along with short turnarounds makes it favorite to be used by almost any industry looking to outperform their competitors in the market.
With the rise in technology and new manufacturing techniques coming through, aluminum rapid prototyping has improved drastically over the years. Despite the modern advancement in this field such as the 3D printing, CNC still stands as one of the most effective and practiced technique for aluminum prototyping. It is considered both cost and time effective as well as easy to be carried out.
WayKen has vast experience in the market with Aluminum rapid prototyping. Our prototyping operators are well-trained and use their expertise and skills to manufacture high-grade aluminum prototypes. From prototyping to batch production, WayKen is there to cater to all your demands. We invite you to give us a chance to show you what we can do for you and your company and take you over your competitors in the market.