Aluminium is found in combined forms in abundance in the earth’s crust. There are several methods for cutting aluminium (saw blade, shearing process, extrusion, plasma arc, CNC machine). The method to be used for cutting aluminium would depend on the efficiency required, the economic viability and the intended use after it is cut.
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Aluminium is commonly cut using a saw blade. There are different types of saw blades (cold saw, jigsaw). For aluminium cutting, the tip of the saw blade is made of carbide. Cold saw is primarily used for cutting heavier sections of aluminium. It is a heavily built circular saw with large diameter high-speed steel. Cold saws have a flood coolant, power feed, heavy duty vice and automatic stock advance.
Jigsaw is primarily used to cut random patterns on the aluminium sheet. The jigsaws available today are driven by a motor and have a reciprocating saw blade. A jigsaw can also come up with a bevel gear which would enable it to cut mitre joints (i.e., a usually perpendicular joint made by fastening together parts with the ends cut at an angle).
Shearing process can be used to cut a sheet of aluminium. This is a process in which the material is cut by applying a shearing force by the use of two tools--one above and one below the metal. The tools used can be a punch and die or an upper and lower blade. Shearing process can also be used as the first step for preparing stock for the stamping process. A stamping process involves different sheet-metal processes such as bending, blanking, and coining.
Extrusion is a metallurgical process for cutting, as well as shaping, malleable and ductile light metals such as aluminium. This process involves forcing the metal to flow through an opening in a die. The metal which emerges out of the die would be an elongated piece which acquires the same shape as the die. The key factor to consider during the extrusion process is the temperature, because the hardness and strength of aluminium is dependent on the temperature.
Plasma Arc Cutting Process
Plasma arc cutting process is the most economical and effective way of cutting aluminium. It involves a high-temperature, high-speed gas jet to cut the metal which is electrically charged. The temperature can be up to 50,000° Fahrenheit. Hence, plasma arc cutting process requires a set of electric apparatus such as a cutting torch, control system, coolant system, DC power supply and a cutting gas supply. Plasma cutting process generally uses nitrogen to cut aluminium.
CNC machine is also an effective method for cutting aluminium alloy. It uses a hard alloy saw blade which has an outer diameter of 20". This ensures that the processing speed and its precision remain high. The blades are also capable of swinging at any angle between 22.5 degrees and 135 degrees. The stability of the machines is also generally high, so it can be used for cutting aluminium doors, windows and curtain wall material.
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