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Precision Saw Cutting for Aluminum Plates

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Any craftsperson knows how it important it is to have the right tool for a job. That extends to working with aluminum alloys, regardless of what industry you’re in. Of course, when it comes to precision saw cutting of aluminum plate, not only is it critical that you have a properly maintained and calibrated saw that fits your application, but it also extremely helpful if the metal plate you’re cutting was shipped to you at the right size and tolerance.

It may seem like a lot to keep track of, but by making sure that you have the correct material, at the exact specifications, in the hands of an expert machinist who is working with the proper saw, you will give yourself the best chance of producing high-quality premium products that your customers will love.

What You Need To Know About Precision Aluminum Saws

It is not uncommon for manufacturers to outsource their sawing jobs to specialist shops. This makes sense for a number of reasons, especially for smaller producers, as it will lower your investment and leave the sometimes-delicate sawing operations to the experts. But even when you aren’t doing the sawing yourself, it’s still imperative that you understand the different aspects of sawing so that you can clearly explain your requirements and you’ll get back exactly what you need.

One kind of saw commonly used with an aluminum plate is the vertical saw. These are band saws with a vertical orientation that allows machinists to push the plate or block while the blade remains stationary. With more advanced models, you have features such as an automated feed control that allows for a great deal of precision and a high degree of reproducibility.

Furthermore, these saws come in a wide variety of sizes, the largest of which have blades that are several inches in width and can handle plates or blocks that are as thick as 60 inches or more. Such saws might be so large that they actually come with a platform the machinist will stand on. At the other end of the spectrum, the smallest vertical plate saws are portable and handheld, allowing for extreme precision cuts and offering the mobility to cut aluminum nearly anywhere.

Of course, many people have experience using wood saws to cut aluminum. This is something that’s possible because of aluminum’s particular properties that you likely wouldn’t want to do with steel or other metals. With the proper blade and plenty of lubricant, aluminum can definitely be cut with a wood saw. But, it’s extremely important to note that this is only possible with an aluminum sheet or other parts that are thinner than a quarter of an inch. This is not a procedure that should be applied to an aluminum plate. 

What You Need To Know About Flatness And Tolerance

Whether you are cutting the material yourself, or handing it off to an outside machinist, having an aluminum plate of the proper dimensions can help the job go much more smoothly, so to speak. This is because you can save a lot of time when you receive your metal already cut to the correct tolerance. This will free up a great deal of machine time and reduce your product cycle.

When working with a plate, flatness can obviously be an important property that has a significant effect on the overall application quality, in particular when dealing with precision parts and assemblies that will require pieces to be connected across a surface area in an airtight manner. In manufacturing, flatness can be defined in terms of statistical flatness or overall flatness, which is the distance between the two closest parallel planes within.

Since no surface is ever truly flat, we must work with tolerances, which define the allowable deviation within a certain area. The flatness control defines exactly how much a surface may vary from the ideal flat plane. A feature control frame is what is used to apply the desired tolerance to a surface. The frame can either point to the surface itself or rest on the extension line extending from the surface. The frame is placed in such a way that the surface can be viewed as a line. The surface must lie between two parallel planes that are of a certain distance apart. The further the distance, the flatter the surface.

 
Tolerances
Positioning Tolerance (in)
+/- 0.003
Straightness of Cut (in. per foot)
+/- 0.003
Vertical Squareness (in. per in. of thickness)
+/- 0.0005
Horizontal Squareness (in. per ft. from corner)
+/- 0.002
Parallelism Over Entire Length (in.)
+/- 0.003

What Alloys Work Best With Precision Plate Saws?

Knowing what your requirements are is a necessity when deciding what alloy of aluminum plate you want for your application. Clinton Aluminum carries a wide range of alloys and grades, of varying thicknesses, for nearly any conceivable job.

One of the most popular grades of aluminum plate is 7075, which is extremely strong and is well-known for its toughness, making it very popular in the aerospace and aviation industries. Its excellent weight-to-strength ratio means it is ideal for highly stressed parts. It also has excellent low-temperature properties, while its electrical conductivity is 36 percent that of copper.

6061 aluminum plate is readily machinable, weldable, and formable. Among the heat-treated aluminums, it has the best corrosion resistance, one reason for its ubiquity in so many applications. In can be found in both heavy-duty structures and marine environments. The electrical conductivity of 6061 is 40 percent that of copper.

Another one of our popular products is M-5 aluminum plate. M-5 offers an affordable alternative to the most common wrought and forged large aluminum blocks. Meanwhile, Duramold 5 aluminum plate is frequently used in prototype and low volume production applications. It is produced in a state-of-the-art casting facility in California, and offers mold makers the largest available size of any mold plate alloy.

Your Technical Resources Partner

Clinton Aluminum strives to do more than just supply aluminum plate products. We can ensure that your material is cut to the proper dimensions before it ships, or work with you to make correct purchasing decisions and equip your shop with the high-quality tools and machines you need to preserve the quality and cost-effectiveness you require.

We have a wide variety of sheet and plate in stock, and possess the ability to process nearly any piece of metal. Best of all, our experienced and dedicated team of professionals will guide our customers through every step of the production process. Get in touch today to learn more about our aluminum plate offerings.

Clinton Aluminum processes Aluminum and Stainless Steel using several different methods.  Each method having its unique advantage.

  • Shearing is a very quick and inexpensive method of cutting sheet or thin gauge plate of an array of alloys.
  • Precision Saws can cut Aluminum Plate or Aluminum Extrusions up to 8” in thickness to tolerances as tight as +/-.005”.
  • Band Saws give us the ability to cut material up to 42” in height.  This is often used to cut large blocks of plate to near net shape saving our customers machine time and an opportunity to recover stock that would otherwise be chips.
  • Water Jetting material allows for more complex shapes and closer to net shape on Plate up to 5” thick.
  • Plasma cutting allows cutting of Stainless Steel Alloys to Patterns like a Water Jet but at a slightly lower cost and shorter turnaround time.
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