Almost every material with sufficient hardness can be CNC machined. The most common examples include metals,such as aluminum and steel alloys, brass, or plastics (such as ABS,Delrin, Nylon etc).
According to the research in 2019,below chart is the Top 10 most requested materials.
Aluminum 6061 is an aerospace grade material but also the most affordable material for CNC machining as is it easy-to-machine.
Stainless Steel 304 is at #2.
The introduction of Mild Steel 1018 (at #4 with 5.0 percent) further impacted the popularity of SS 304, as it is a more economical option with similar mechanical properties.
Looking at plastic, Delrin - also known as POM or Acetal - was the most popular option (at #3 with 5.0 percent of market share). Delrin is the easiest-to-machine plastic and has high stiffness with good frictional characteristics, making it more attractive than the alternatives of ABS (at #8 with 3.2 percent) and Polycarbonate (at #10 with 2.0 percent).
The Most Requested Surface Finishes
Surface finishes are applied after machining and can affect the function or aesthetics of a machined part. Selecting the right surface finish is sometimes as important as choosing the right material, since it affects a part’s appearance, surface roughness, hardness and chemical resistance of the produced parts.
The As-machined surface finish was by far the most requested as it provides the tightest dimensional tolerances and comes at no extra cost.
Bead blasting at #2 is still a long way off though at #2 with 7.5 percent, but it is still popular as it provides visually pleasing matte or satin finish at a relatively low cost.
Anodizing at its various forms (colored, clear or hardcoat) was requested approximately in 9.3 percent of all orders, which is not a surprise as aluminum is by far the most used material and anodizing is a common finish for it. Colored anodizing was much more popular than clear (probably due to aesthetic reasons) and that hardcoat anodizing as the latter is a high wear resistance coating for top-end engineering applications.
More materials also bring requests of more varied and less traditional finishing techniques. An example of this would be chromate conversion coating used heavily by the aerospace industry.
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