Aluminum is the most widely used non-ferrous metal. In 2005, the global production of Aluminum is 31.9 million tons which exceeded that of any other metal except iron. Aluminum is almost always alloyed, which markedly improves its mechanical properties, especially when tempered. For example, the common aluminum foils and beverage cans are alloys of 92% to 99% aluminum. Likewise, Aluminum Alloy is adopted as one of the popular material for prototype manufacturing. The Aluminum Alloy metal is hard and light, and can be shaped into variety of sized products or parts and be applied to different industries. For example, aluminum Alloy can be the material of transportation mechanisms which include automobiles, aircraft, marine vessels, bicycles, etc. In packing and decoration industry, Aluminum Alloy can be used to make cans, foils, frames or windows, doors, siding and so on. However, prototyping industry contains all of this.
Aluminum Alloy prototyping work flow:
1. CNC Milling: Milling is the machining process of using rotary cutters to remove material from a work piece advancing in a direction at an angle with the axis of the tool. It covers a wide variety of different operations and machines, on scales from small individual parts to large, heavy-duty gang milling operations. It is one of the most commonly used processes in industry and machine shops today for machining parts, especially metal parts, to precise sizes and shapes. All of the processing operations will be programmed on the computer and then input into the CNC machine.
2. Hand Deburring: Hand deburring is necessary for metal parts we finished at CNC machining, from critical medical components that need to be delicately debarred under a microscope to larger parts that need to have material removed with sanders or grinders.
3. Laser Etching: which is a subset of laser marking，it means using laser beam to remove the paint on the surface of objects in order to leave the mark of text or graphic patterns.
4. Anodizing: an electrolytic passivation process used to increase the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the surface of metal parts. Anodizing increases resistance to corrosion and wear, and provides better adhesion for paint primers and glues than bare metal. Anodic films can also be used for a number of cosmetic effects, either with thick porous coatings that can absorb dyes or with thin transparent coatings that add interference effects to reflected light.
5. Wire Drawing: a metalworking process used to reduce the cross-section of a wire by pulling the wire through a single, or series of, drawing die(s). The finished metal surface always has the good feeling of visual effects and touching.