Introduction to Casted Materials in CNC Machining(cantilever snap joint Toby)

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Computer numerical control (CNC) machining is a manufacturing process that uses pre-programmed computer software to control the movement of factory tools and machinery. This process can create custom parts and products out of various materials, including casted metals and plastics. Casted materials are especially common in CNC work due to their versatility and wide range of applications across many industries.
What is a Casted Material?
A casted material refers to any object that has been formed by pouring molten metal, plastic, or other material into a mold and allowing it to solidify. The casting process allows for the mass production of intricate, detailed parts with high dimensional accuracy and repeatability. Metals such as aluminum, iron, steel, and alloys are commonly casted, along with plastics and epoxies.
The most popular casting methods include:
- Sand casting - molten metal is poured into a sand mold
- Die casting - forced into a mold under high pressure
- Investment casting - wax model filled with ceramic slurry then heated
- Resin casting - liquid resin poured into rubber mold
Advantages of Casted Materials in CNC
There are several key advantages to using casted parts in CNC machining:
- Complex shapes and geometries - casting can produce highly complex designs unachievable by other methods
- Tight tolerances - modern casting can hold incredibly tight dimensional accuracies down to +/- 0.005 inches
- Low part costs - casting allows high volume production which spreads cost over more parts
- Variety of materials - CNC machining can be used on casted parts from metals, plastics, epoxies, etc.
- Reduced machining - pre-shaped casted parts require less CNC milling, drilling, etc.
- Combined casting and CNC - many parts are both casted and CNC machined for an optimal process
Common Casted Materials used in CNC
There are many casted material options available for CNC work:
- Aluminum - lightweight, corrosion resistant, high strength, and easy to machine
- Steel - versatile, strong, and durable alloy used for tooling and molds
- Iron - affordable material with high impact strength
- Stainless steel - maintains strength and corrosion resistance at high temperatures
- Zinc - casted for low cost and good machinability/threadability
- Magnesium - very lightweight structures suiting aerospace and automotive
- Titanium - extremely strong and low density perfect for medical implants
- Nickel alloys - retain properties in extreme environments like jet engines
- Plastics - acrylic, nylon, PVC, ABS, and more casted for electrical housings, fixtures
- Epoxies - heat/chemical/corrosion resistant parts
CNC Machining Processes for Casted Materials
CNC machining is commonly used as a secondary process on casted parts to achieve tighter tolerances, better surface finishes, and features not possible in initial casting. Typical CNC processes include:
- Milling - uses rotating end mills to cut away material
- Turning - a cutting tool removes material as part turns
- Drilling - holes created by drill bits
- Boring - enlarging existing holes to precise diameter
- Tapping - cutting threads for bolts/fasteners
- Knurling - textured pattern added for grip
- Engraving - decorative shapes carved into surface
Proper feeds, speeds, toolpaths, and cut depths must be programmed for each specific casted material based on its unique properties. CNC operators must correctly identify and machine each type of casted material to avoid tool wear or breakage.
Benefits of CNC Machining Casted Parts
Secondary CNC machining of casted parts offers many benefits:
- Smoother surface finishes unlikely from casting alone
- Much tighter dimensional tolerances and accuracy
- Can add precision holes, slots, and special features
- Allows parts to be custom tailored from casts
- Eliminates need for further post-processing after CNC
- Automated mass production of casted parts
- Flexible manufacturing from same casted part design
With CNC machining, casted parts can be made to order in different sizes, materials, and specifications without the high costs of additional casting tooling. This makes low volume production or custom one-off production viable. The combination of casting and CNC creates higher quality finished products.
Casted materials like metals and plastics are ideal choices for CNC machining. They can produce highly complex part geometries impossible through other processes. When paired with CNC milling, turning, drilling and other precision machining, casted parts can be made incredibly accurate with superior finishes. This flexible manufacturing process will continue expanding with technology advancements in both casting and computer numerical control programming. CNC Milling CNC Machining