Leading CNC Machining & Fabrication.

Nordon Pty Ltd

CNC Machining Specialists


29 Furness Ave. Edwardstown, 5039, South Australia.

Opening hours

Mon – Fri: 9AM – 5PM

CNC Machining Adelaide

CNC Machining Design Considerations

Designing aluminium components for CNC machining involves a unique set of considerations and challenges. Aluminium, known for its excellent strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance, and machinability, is a popular choice for a wide range of applications from aerospace to consumer electronics.

However, to fully leverage these advantages in CNC machining, designers must understand both the capabilities of the material and the process. Below are the key principles and strategies for designing aluminium components optimized for CNC machining.

Post-Processing Considerations

1. Finishing Operations

Consider the need for post-machining operations such as anodizing or painting, which can cover minor surface imperfections and enhance corrosion resistance.

2. Stress Relieving

Aluminium components may require stress-relieving treatments, like artificial aging or annealing, to reduce residual stresses from the machining process.

CAD and CAM Integration

In the design phase, utilizing computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software can predict potential issues before machining begins. Simulation tools can help visualize the tool paths and ensure that the chosen strategies are efficient and feasible for the desired design.

Practical Testing

Finally, nothing replaces the value of real-world testing. Prototyping is an essential step in design refinement. Initial runs can reveal unforeseen problems with the design or machining process and allow for adjustments before full-scale production.

In conclusion, designing aluminium components for CNC machining is a balance of material understanding, practical design considerations, and appropriate machining strategies. By keeping these factors in mind, engineers and designers can create aluminium parts that fully utilize the capabilities of both the material and the machining process to achieve cost-effective, high-quality components.

Machining Strategies

A critical aspect of CNC machining projects is to ensure the processes are productive and efficient. Nordon has been delivering CNC machined projects for many years, and so are very experienced with strategies to deliver CNC projects on time and within budget.

Here are just some of the strategies we employ to ensure our CNC machining services deliver on quality, precision and budget:   

1. Minimising Complexity

Complex designs require more tool changes, specialized tools, and increased machining time, driving up costs. Simplify designs by using standard geometries and avoiding unnecessary features.

2. Tool Accessibility

Ensure that the design allows tools to access all areas to be machined easily. Tight internal corners, for example, are challenging to machine and often require special tools like lollipop cutters, which can increase costs.

3. Wall Thickness

Maintain uniform wall thickness where possible, as varying thicknesses can cause issues with material removal and lead to warping or distortion due to the heat generated during machining.

4. Tolerances

While aluminium is relatively stable during machining, be realistic about tolerances. Tighter tolerances can significantly increase the cost and time required for machining.

5. Internal Corners

Design internal corners with a radius rather than sharp angles. Sharp internal corners can cause stress concentrations and are difficult to machine, leading to longer production times and higher costs.

1. Tool Selection

Use the correct type and size of cutting tools to optimize the cutting conditions. For aluminium, sharp tools with high rake angles and polished surfaces are preferable.

2. Optimizing Feed and Speed

Aluminium allows for higher feed rates and cutting speeds compared to many other metals. Optimizing these parameters minimizes machining time and tool wear.

3. Lubrication and Cooling

Appropriate lubrication and cooling can prevent sticking and tool clogging, especially important in aluminium due to its softness and tendency to adhere to the cutting tool.

4. Chip Management

Design components in a way that facilitates efficient chip removal. Accumulated chips can interfere with the machining process and lead to surface finish defects.

5. Holding the Workpiece

Design the component with fixtures in mind. The workpiece must be securely held, but excessive clamping force can deform aluminium. Consider incorporating features like dovetails or tabs into the design for efficient workholding.

CNC Machining Trends

The latest trends in CNC machining, particularly in 2024, reflect a dynamic shift towards integrating advanced technologies and sustainable practices. Here’s an overview of these trends:

Integration of Additive Manufacturing

The convergence of 3D printing and CNC machining is revolutionizing the industry, leading to optimized processes, reduced waste, and sustainable manufacturing solutions.

Adaptive Manufacturing

Driven by Industry 4.0, this approach allows CNC machines to adjust in real-time to changing production demands, enhancing operational flexibility and efficiency.

Key components include advanced sensors, data analytics, sophisticated control systems, and IoT connectivity, contributing to increased efficiency, cost savings, and improved product quality.

AI in CNC Machining

AI is playing a significant role in the industry, aiding in predictive maintenance, supply chain management, workplace safety, and decision-making.

AI technologies like Siemens Solid Edge 2024 are enhancing machining operations optimization, AI-assisted assembly design, and facilitating seamless collaboration within the manufacturing sector.

Rise of Robotics and Automation

Robotic process automation, including the use of cobots (collaborative robots), is becoming increasingly important in CNC machining for tasks like assembly, material handling, and load/unload operations.

This trend is improving efficiency, safety, and sustainability in manufacturing.

High-Mix, Low-Volume Manufacturing

There’s a growing demand for manufacturing processes that can handle a wide variety of products in small quantities, requiring advanced technology for profitability and efficiency.

"Done-in-One" Machining

This trend focuses on multi-purpose CNC machines that can complete multiple machining processes in one setup, reducing clamping and lead times.

Sustainable Practices and Digital Twin Technology

Emphasis on sustainability is leading to the adoption of practices like using digital twins for simulation and analysis, which improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact.

Reshoring of Manufacturing

Global supply chain disruptions are encouraging the trend of reshoring, where manufacturing is brought back from overseas to local sites.

Frequently Asked Questions about CNC Machining

Here is a collection of FAQs that relate to CNC Machining.

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What is CNC Machining?

CNC machining is a manufacturing process where pre-programmed computer software dictates the movement of factory tools and machinery. It can be used to control a range of complex machinery from grinders and lathes to mills and routers.

What Materials Can Be Used in CNC Machining?

CNC machines can process a wide range of materials, including metals like aluminium and steel, plastics like ABS and polycarbonate, and even certain types of wood. Nordon are experts in using aluminium in their CNC machining processes. 

How Accurate is CNC Machining?

CNC machining is known for its high precision. It can achieve tolerances within +/- 0.005 inches (0.127 mm) or better, depending on the machine and material.

What's the Difference Between CNC Milling and CNC Turning?

CNC milling involves rotating a cutting tool to remove material. In CNC turning, the workpiece rotates while a stationary tool cuts. Milling can produce more complex geometries, whereas turning is typically used for cylindrical parts.

Can CNC Machines Produce Large Parts?

Yes, CNC machines vary in size and can produce both small and large parts. The capability to produce larger parts depends on the size of the CNC machine and its working envelope.

What is the Cost of CNC Machining?

The cost of CNC machining varies based on factors like material type, complexity of the design, volume of parts, and the type of CNC process used. Custom or complex designs tend to be more expensive.

How Long Does CNC Machining Take?

The time required for CNC machining depends on the complexity of the part, the type of material, and the precision required. Simple parts may take only a few hours, while more complex designs may require days or even weeks.

Is CNC Machining Suitable for Prototyping?

Yes, CNC machining is excellent for both prototyping and production. It provides high accuracy and a good surface finish, which are essential for prototypes.

Can CNC Machining Be Used for Both Metal and Plastic Components?

Yes, CNC machining is versatile and can be used to fabricate both metal and plastic components. The choice of material depends on the application and desired properties of the final product. Nordon specialises in CNC machining using aircraft grade Aluminium for CNC.

What is the Difference Between 3-axis and 5-axis CNC Machining?

The main difference lies in the number of directions in which the cutting tool can move. In 3-axis CNC machining, the tool moves in three directions (X, Y, and Z axes). 5-axis CNC machines offer two additional rotational axes, allowing for more complex geometries and reduced setup times.

How Does CNC Machining Compare to 3D Printing?

CNC machining is a subtractive process that removes material from a solid block, whereas 3D printing is an additive process that builds a part layer by layer.

CNC machining is typically faster for producing metal parts and offers a better surface finish and higher precision.

3D printing is more cost-effective for complex geometries and smaller production runs.

Is CNC Machining Environmentally Friendly?

CNC machining can be environmentally friendly depending on the materials used and the efficiency of the process. Advances in technology have improved energy efficiency, and the use of recyclable materials can reduce environmental impact.

Can CNC Machining Handle Complex Geometries?

Yes, one of the strengths of CNC machining is its ability to produce parts with complex geometries. Advanced CNC machines, especially those with 5-axis capabilities, can handle intricate designs that would be difficult or impossible to make with traditional manufacturing methods.

What Is the Role of CAD/CAM Software in CNC Machining?

CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software is used to design the parts, while CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) software is used to convert CAD models into CNC machine instructions. This software is essential for precision and efficiency in CNC machining.

When considering CNC machining services, Nordon stands out as a top choice, particularly for service providers in Adelaide.

We specialize in producing precision-engineered components, blending efficiency, accuracy and innovation in our CNC machining processes.

Nordon is renowned for its expertise in handling various materials, especially aluminium. We also offer a range of in-house engineered products.

Our focus on practical design considerations, effective machining strategies, and CAD and CAM software integration positions us as a reliable partner for your CNC machining needs.

Contact Stuart to discuss your CNC machining project. 

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