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How to cut aluminum

How to cut aluminum sheet? Many ways. Is there any best way to cut aluminum sheet? In fact, no matter aluminum block, plate, or sheet metal, it depends on what kinds of aluminum: aluminum or its alloy, the size and thickness, the cutting quality & cutting speed required, etc.

#1 Best Way to Cut Aluminum Sheet of Small Piece and Thin: Saw or Shear, Snip

How to cut aluminum of small piece and thick, there are some handle or electric tools for your reference:

Tool Name Description
Handle Electric Shears / Handle Metal Shears / Aviation Snips / Scissors for Metal Metal cutting at thin (1-2 mm), straight and curves;
Band Saw The ideal tool working well for really thick plates;
Circular Saw / Table Saw / Miter Saw It is great for straight line cuts. Not so much for curves;
Recip Saw / Jig Saw A solution for cutting curves;
Sharp Utility Knife + Straight Edge The solution for no other opstions for thin metal;

#2 Best Way to Cut Aluminum Sheet of Large Piece or Thick: CNC Cutting Machine

Here, we mainly talk about the best way to cut thick aluminum sheet, it is also helpful for other kind aluminum.

This article, we will briefly talk about the shear machine, CNC laser cutting machine, CNC plasma cutter machine, CNC router machine, CNC milling machine, and waterjet machine;

Hydraulic Shear or Trim Machines

There are professional hydraulic shear or trim machines for metal sheet, but this kind of cutting machine is mainly for a thick and straight-line cutting;

CNC Laser Cutting Machine for Aluminum Sheet Cutting:

A metal laser cutter always takes a fiber laser source, it can cut an aluminum sheet in different thicknesses. But there are some notations we should know before the end decision:

Aluminum is sensitive to high temperature, it needs nitrogen protection against oxidation, keed the original color of the aluminum sheet;

Laser cutting aluminum is fast, but fast cutting brings small burr. And slow cutting may bring deformation or crack, so it takes time to get the right cutting setting parameters;

Fiber laser cutting aluminum is mainly for sheet less than 25mm: 2000W for laser aluminum cutting 6-8mm, 4000W for laser aluminum cutting 12mm, 6000W for laser aluminum cutting 16mm;

CNC Plasma Cutter Machine for Aluminum Sheet Cutting:

Plasma cutter is a considerable way to cut aluminum sheet, the plasma heat brings some a little physical or chemical change to the cutting edge, and the cutting makes dust pollution, we should take measures for dust control and collection.

Plasma is able to cut aluminum at a thickness of 100mm.

CNC Router Machine for Aluminum Sheet Cutting:

Router cutting is a process of milling, it is a best way to engraving in aluminum, but not a best way to cut aluminum sheet.

But the best point of the CNC router is that it can change its tool bits to be a saw. This may be a way for thin aluminum cutting. And for the CNC router, we can cool the workpiece by water moist.

CNC Milling Machine for Aluminum Sheet Cutting:

CNC milling cutting is similar to CNC router, in some places, they are the same concept. Generally speaking, the milling machine has higher power, mainly for metal milling.

CNC milling machine is not for quick and a large amount of cutting production, it is for precious cutting or engraving, the best way to make a high quality cutting of aluminum block for spare part.

Waterjet for Aluminum Sheet Cutting:

Waterjet is a high press cutting, it is not a convenient way to cut aluminum sheet.

#3 Conclusion:

Usually, we recommend a saw or a shear for a small piece, and a CNC plasma cutting machine or a laser cutting machine for big size and thick aluminum sheet cutting.

There are also other ways not mentioned above: such as wire cutting, stamping cutting, etc., they are mainly for cutting of special purpose.

The Best Way to Cut Aluminum Sheet depends on many factors, please choose a machine based on your fact and come to our sales manager for advice.

Introduction: A Simple Method to Cut Aluminum Extrusion

How to cut aluminum

How to cut aluminum

How to cut aluminum

This instructable describes how to use a miter saw to cut aluminum extrusion.

This is not meant to be a exhaustive survey of methods for cutting aluminum extrusion, it is simply a description of the method we use.

Cutting metal with power tools is dangerous and should be attempted only if you know what you are doing. So proceed at your own peril.

There is a lot of information available on the internet and you should try and read it all to help you decide if this method is right for you.

Lastly, wear safety equipment. Ok, let me say it again, WEAR SAFTY EQUIPMENT. At a minimum, a good pair of safety glasses, some ear protection and a face mask. A full face shield is not a bad idea either. There is going to be a lot of little chips of aluminum flying around and they WILL NOT go where you expect them too. They will go everywhere. The “standard” dust collection systems are not well suited to this type of material.

Supplies

An electric miter saw.

A saw blade for Aluminum and Non Ferrous Metals

Step 1: Setting Up the Saw

Install the non Ferris cutting blade on the saw. Make sure you true the blade. (We have a cheep miter saw dedicated to cutting aluminum so as to not have to do this step every time we do a cut.)

Set the saw up in a clean, open, area with enough open space to move freely around the saw. For large pieces you may want to set the saw up on the floor. Connect the saw to a shop vac or other dust collection system. Do not plug the saw in.

Step 2: Improvising a Dust (chip?) Collecter.

If you like to sweep, use a shop vacuum and have a large collection of different size brooms you feel the need to exercise, you can ignore this step. For the rest of us, pay attention. Cutting aluminum is messy. If you have a vacuum attached to your miter saw exhaust port, it will not do much. The chips will go everywhere. They are sharp and they conduct electricity. The picture above is from a single cut of an 8020 series 10 extrusion. This is what was left inside the beam. the rest was scattered around the floor.

Improvising a dust collector will make your life easier. It can be improvised with anything. For large projects, we hang up tarps a couple of feet from the saw. For smaller projects we build a temporary box around the saw with cardboard angled to push the chips down to the floor at the base of the saw. Yes, we do like to use our shop vacuum and even with improvised dust collection, it gets a workout. That big, ugly shop broom is a great tool to have around too.

Step 3: Mark Your Cut Line

Measure from the end of the piece to where you want the cut to be, and make a mark. With a speed square or a machinist square, make a cut line on the extrusion at the mark. Measure your line again. You can mark your cut line with your favorite marking tool. We use a sharp pencil.

Step 4: Clamping the Work Piece

This is the most important step in the process. The teeth in the blade are offset. You need to find the longest tooth on the side of the blade that faces the part you don’t want cut. ( The saw is still unplugged, right? ) Line that tooth up with the side of the cut line where material is to be removed. Clamp the workpiece into place. Check it against the tooth again. Move the blade and insure that you used to align the blade was the longest tooth. Check it again. Check the measurement to the line again.

Look at the workpiece and ensure that it is square to the blade. Any material left on the stage can skew the workpiece.

Step 5: Making the Cut.

The cutting process is straight forward.

With your hand OFF the trigger, bring the blade down to the extrusion and check that nothing shifted when the work was clamped.

If you are happy, plug the saw in. Now with your hand on the trigger, make your cut. The cut should be slow, letting the blade do the work. Don’t force the blade down, a gentle pressure is all that is needed.

Unplug the saw. Unclamp the work and measure it.

If your are going to do another cut, clean up the chips that are on working surfaces of the saw. This is good practice between every cut as a single aluminum chip can throw off the alignment of the cut.

Step 6: Cleaning Up the Mess

Ok you’re done with the cutting. Clean up everything. Give the broom a good workout. Vacuum off the miter saw. Vacuum off every nook and cranny on the miter saw. Turn the saw over and vacuum it again. Clean up the floor around the saw and whatever you were using as a saw support. Remember, sharp and conductive.

Now its time to move on to drilling and tapping, but that is another instructiable.

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5 Comments

How to cut aluminum

We cut a LOT of aluminum for our high school Robotics team, and for safety, it may be worth investing in a horizontal band saw, or for more finesse, a vertical band saw. We cut 8020, square tube, C-channel, L-channel, non-symmetrical elements, etc.. But swapping blades is great for the user for intermittent user.

How to cut aluminum

I have the same chop saw! Interesting Instructabe, how’s the nonferrous blade holding up so far?

How to cut aluminum

Reply 10 months ago

The blade has held up nicely for what we use it for, cutting aluminum and aluminum profiles. The current blade was purchased in January of 2014. It is only used to do a couple hundred cuts a year so it really does not have a lot of time on it.

How to cut aluminum

I’ve been using a porter cable chop saw. It’s “meh” and leaves a lot to be desired. I might switch out my blade after reading this.
Thanks