The Key Aspects of Aluminum Rapid Prototyping
What is Aluminum Rapid Prototyping?
Modern marketing realities and design factors are pushing designers and engineers to the limit. We have to come up with finished products in the least amount of time. Additionally, we have to budget during the design. We use aluminum rapid prototyping to achieve this feat. It comprises of two unique techniques.
- Additive aluminum prototyping
- Subtractive aluminum prototyping
Additive aluminum prototyping
It entails the use of virtual 3D designs to build up a prototype via the deposition of aluminum layers. We develop prototypes from the bottom up. The best examples of additive rapid prototyping are laser sintering and 3D printing.
Subtractive Aluminum Prototyping
This involves the repetitive cutting of material from a solid aluminum block. In this case, we make the prototype from top to bottom. We perform it using CNC machining processes. Examples are CNC milling, CNC turning, and other standard machining processes. It happens to be a faster and more economical process than its alternative.
A Brief about the Features Aluminum and Its Alloys
Aluminum exhibits low density while still providing excellent strength. Surprisingly, its strength surpasses that of steel. Additionally, it offers amazing plasticity and high resistance to corrosion. It is also relatively cheap since it is abundant in nature. This lowers the overhead cost arising from faulty production or bad design. Moreover, we can easily recycle it, which further helps in cheaper manufacturing. It offers high toughness hence less deformation after manufacturing. This makes it an ideal material for prototyping purposes.
How Do We Carry Out Aluminum Rapid Prototyping?
There are a number of traditional and modern techniques of producing prototypes. Here we will be specifically delving into CNC manufacturing processes. The process varies depending on the type of machine we utilize for the CNC of the prototype. It determines the process we can effectively carry out for aluminum prototyping.
Essentially, it involves a CAD product design into the system. It then converts it to vectors, which we read as coordinates. We then proceed to upload the file and trace the vectors. Afterward, we can select the tool and tool path that cuts the block into the desired shape. It can be a .25-inch v-bit or a .75-inch core box bit. We can vary the cutting depth and cutting speed to our liking.
Upon selection of the tool, its speed, and depth, we can then feed the tool path to the CNC machine. You then have the option of cutting outside the vectors, inside it, or tracing it. The cutting method varies depending on the machinist, machine, and design complexity. After converting the vectors to G-code, we can then determine the block’s center. We jog the CNC to the center of the block where it touches the face of it. We refer to this point as the absolute zero. The CNC machine proceeds to read off the G-code and commences the prototyping process.
There is one major flaw when it comes to machining aluminum. Its flakes normally adhere to the tool’s cutting edge. This decreases its cutting capability hence affecting the prototyping output. Luckily, we have a way of minimizing the chances of aluminum accumulation on the cutting tool. This is by carefully selecting the cutting tool and its material coating.
Aluminum Rapid Prototyping at Creatingway
At Creatingway, we have four major concerns when it comes to aluminum prototyping. These are:
- To ensure there is excellent chip evacuation from the cutting edge
- Make sure that there is minimal adhesion of the aluminum to the cutting edge during machining
- To maintain the core strength of the tool so that it is sufficient enough to counter the cutting forces without failure.
There are different tools that we use during rapid prototyping. They vary from the straight grade (K) of cemented carbides, diamond-based tools to high-speed tools. We can also effectively use enhanced industry-grade 5-axis machines. This machine produces top-notch aluminum prototypes.
Industries and the Development of Aluminum Rapid Prototyping
Many industries utilize aluminum rapid prototyping as a prime prototype manufacturing method. Industries like aerospace, aircraft, automotive, and electronic industries incorporate its use. This is since it can easily handle complex designs with short turnarounds. This makes it an ideal option by any industry seeking to outperform its competitors in the market.
Aluminum rapid prototyping has been drastically improving over the years. This is owing to the rise in technology and emerging manufacturing techniques. Additionally, CNC stands out as the most effective technique of developing aluminum prototypes. We can easily carry it out and it is cost and time effective.
At Creatingway, we have extensive experience in the market with aluminum rapid prototyping. Our well-trained prototyping operators utilize their expertise to manufacture high-grade prototypes. For any further inquiries, simply contact us.
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