Looking for help routing aluminum 6061 t6 - Router Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 06-03-2011, 06:29 PM Thread Starter
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Default Looking for help routing aluminum 6061 t6

We have been routing aluminum bar stock for quote some time and have only recently come into some problems. I am routing some holes and a groove in a square and then cutting the bar to make a 6x6 plate. The problem is we keep breaking bits and burning up the aluminum. We have a cool tool blowing directly on the bits but we cannot use coolant. Anyone know of any suggestions to help the process work better?
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 06-03-2011, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Danbya View Post
We have been routing aluminum bar stock for quote some time and have only recently come into some problems. I am routing some holes and a groove in a square and then cutting the bar to make a 6x6 plate. The problem is we keep breaking bits and burning up the aluminum. We have a cool tool blowing directly on the bits but we cannot use coolant. Anyone know of any suggestions to help the process work better?
Hi Danbya:

You say you've been doing this before with success. My first question would be what have you changed?? New router?? New bits from a different vendor?? dull bits? different operator who's pushing it too fast/not fast enough? Is your aluminum stock coming from a reputable supplier and have you had the formulation independently tested?? Have you changed the depth of cut?? All of the above are good starting points. Can you go back and test against old material, tools and bits?

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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 06-03-2011, 07:59 PM Thread Starter
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We have been doing this before but with round cut outs and did not have a problem. we have since switched to a square cut out and have had problems ever since. when we notch the aluminum with a round "track" then it seems to work fine. It only gives us a problem when we try routing a square track. We did recently switch suppliers of our bits so that could be part of the problem but those bits didn't seem to give us a problem every time. We use a single flute spiral upcut bit and i'm also thinking maybe a 2 flute would be better for the aluminum.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 06-03-2011, 10:53 PM
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May speed have any thing to with it. I am not a pro when it come to routing Alum. though i have done some and found the more flutes, slowest speed, slower and steady feed worked best for me (just my little experience) Have you tried using an End mill instead of a router bit.

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 06-05-2011, 07:05 AM
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Use a 2 flute carbide router bit and slow the router bit speed down. I have had many problems using single flute router bits and only seem to get acceptable cuts on laminate with them. A 2 flute carbide spiral up cut bit running at about 14,000 rpm will likely get you the best results. Metal machining isn't the best thing to do with woodworking tools, but even I sometimes do it if the task is light and the metal is soft.

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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 06-05-2011, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Danbya View Post
We have been doing this before but with round cut outs and did not have a problem. we have since switched to a square cut out and have had problems ever since. when we notch the aluminum with a round "track" then it seems to work fine. It only gives us a problem when we try routing a square track. We did recently switch suppliers of our bits so that could be part of the problem but those bits didn't seem to give us a problem every time. We use a single flute spiral upcut bit and i'm also thinking maybe a 2 flute would be better for the aluminum.
Ok, several things here.

First, Charley's comments make sense.

Ok, when you're using a round nose bit, the friction of the cutting action is spread across the entire face of the carbide and thus the heat generated is spread around. When you're using a bit with a point on the edge all of the focus of the cutting is on that point. Much more heat is generated and in this case that heat is melting the aluminum, not cutting it.

Try Charley's comments and report back on the results. We're all learning from this so hopefully your comments will encourage others to speak up.

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 06-05-2011, 07:35 AM
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If you have a 1/2" Colet get an end mill as used in a mill. For some reason or other they hold up better than a router bit and they are usually cheaper. When working with aluminum keep your speed slow and with steel fast. That also goes for drilling the two metals. Aluminum can be worked without a coolant if you take your time. Liquids have a tendency to gum up aluminum chips so keep some air handy if you feel the need to use a liquid.

When something is advertised as being foolproof there is always a better class of fool that comes along to prove them wrong.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 06-05-2011, 10:21 AM
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So the excavation is square cornered and flat bottomed, no radii except in the 4 four corners = to the radius of the cutter? And that is your design demand?
Is there a spec. on the corner radius?
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 06-06-2011, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
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So the excavation is square cornered and flat bottomed, no radii except in the 4 four corners = to the radius of the cutter? And that is your design demand?
Is there a spec. on the corner radius?
Yes the plates are specific for a material we use. There are 6" x 6" square and the "track" laying in the plate is 3/8" thick and 5" square, about 3/16" deep. The plates are only 3/8" thick. There are 5 oles plunged into them as well. There are 4 holes 3/8" and 1 center hole 1/2" diameter. All of these holes, tracks, and cuts are made right now with a 3/8" single "o" flute up cut bit. I was already looking into a 2 flute bit but the thing I am worried about with that is the plunging of the holes. Would it maybe be better to use the single flute bit for the holes and then switch bits to the 2 flute for routing the square track and cutting the plate?

Also with the milling bit, would that be able to cut through the material?

Also I will be getting a picture to post on here to show you what I am talking about.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 06-06-2011, 09:56 PM
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Have no trouble outside-wasting thick stock.
The dynamics on inside cutting are indeed different.
One thing for sure I would not plunge holes; that is a drill press operation.
If you're drilling with a router bit in Al. you're killing the bit before it has a chance to do your excavational work.

See if a new cutter will waste the inside.
I would definitely use spiral ground solid carbide; in your case (unless CNC) something short and with a 1/2" cutting diameter. A slow spiral up or down.

You may need a consultant you're right on the edge of needing it.
Why? Because this stuff is dangerous. The utmost in router control and rigid fixturing is essential. Moreover, with an excavation as large as yours, in my view, should be done on a mill. Not only for the sake of safety but it will be faster and easier. Routing aluminum is very tricky stuff.

Mill through with a milling tool? Possible if it has bottom cutting capability but, again, in my view, holes should bored on the drill press, not routed.
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