Anyone have experience milling Aluminum / Copper with their SS?

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woodhead52
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Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:10 pm
Location: Virginia Beach, VA

Re: Anyone have experience milling Aluminum / Copper with their SS?

Post by woodhead52 »

Roy,
Very sorry for this very tardy reply. Somehow I missed the notice. Wow, that was a lot of detailed info.

So, for anyone that's interested, here's what I've done so far and how it's going. I came up with the idea of creating a crosscut sled for the Bandsaw. I checked Youtube and found a very helpful and simple video.

I made the sled and whizzed through cutting up to copper busbars. I have not cut the aluminum yet, but expect no problems. I used the sanding disc with fine grit to smooth ends which were straight and square but a bit grainy form the half inch bandsaw blade. I used the bandsaw for a couple reasons, but the main one was the narrow blade kerf.
Here's my attempt at a video:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMsFA-UXNG4[/youtube]

I decided that I really didn't want to try and mill with the Shopsmith as I came to understand the difference between a vertical mill and a drill press. Definitely two very different machines. I found a local place called 757Makerspace it's a membership kind of place with all kinds of grownup toys. Woodworking equipment, CNC machines, laser cutters, milling equipment, and so on. I joined for the month of August to use the milling equipment and see what else I might like about the place. Unfortunately the equipment is proving to be poor quality and it has not been kept up. At least this is true of the milling equipment. I've glanced at the woodworking equipment and it appears old and also in varying conditions. I will say though, that it seems to ready made for some of the younger adults here as they are using it to start fledgling businesses.

I'm cutting slots in my busbars, it's a slow process with not great results. Not being terribly experienced with milling it's hard to explain the problems, but lets just say that the machine I'm using doesn't exactly hold alignment very well. It's the Little Machine Shop 3960 HiTorque Mini Mill. None of the electronic motor controls work so I do it manually. Lots of cranking. The machine is not bolted down so there's vibration and movement. C'est la vie, I'm getting the job done. It will be acceptable for what I need it for, but obviously I'm less than thrilled. Oh, I forgot to mention it's not well light back where I am so I brought my own lights. That at least helped me see what I'm doing. Tomorrow or Thursday I'll take a fan with me, because there is no AC either and it's hot as blazes in there.
I'll post a few more pictures in a few days or so.
roy_okc
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Re: Anyone have experience milling Aluminum / Copper with their SS?

Post by roy_okc »

Pete,

That's a nice little sled, looks like it does the job well.

With the setup at the maker space, I'm not sure if you're ahead of trying to mill on the Shopsmith or not, LOL. I understand that some copper, depending on the alloy, can be a bit difficult to mill, but I don't know in what ways.
Roy

Mark V/510, Mark V/500 with parts for 510 upgrade, bandsaw, jointer, belt sander, DC3300 w/1 micron bag
Sawstop 3HP 36" PCS w/router table insert
Home designed and built CNC router, another CNC router :D desktop size
CNCed G0704 milling machine
Laser engraver
Way too much other stuff and not enough space :rolleyes:
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woodhead52
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Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:10 pm
Location: Virginia Beach, VA

Re: Anyone have experience milling Aluminum / Copper with their SS?

Post by woodhead52 »

roy_okc wrote: Wed Aug 10, 2022 6:33 pm Pete,

That's a nice little sled, looks like it does the job well.

With the setup at the maker space, I'm not sure if you're ahead of trying to mill on the Shopsmith or not, LOL. I understand that some copper, depending on the alloy, can be a bit difficult to mill, but I don't know in what ways.
Thanks Roy, I'm pretty happy with how well it works. As for the mini mill I'm using, you're probably right! As for copper I've been communicating with some guys on s milling forum. Although it's a soft metal it's what they call sticky. It kind of grabs milling bits and requires lighter cuts, etc. I'm sure over forgotten other important stuff. I'm making busbars so these don't need to be crown jewel perfection and believe me they are not! As I mentioned I'm adjusting the y axis by hand and then slowly rotating the crank at the end of the x axis to cut the slot after I slowly plunge cut through the busbar. If I get even slightly carried away it let's me know quick with very unpleasant shudders. All of that said, I also take some responsibility that I'm using a 1/4" end mill to cut a 1/4" wide slot, so there's a lot of surface contact and this grabbing. Even though I'm doing conventional cuts, is also climbing on the opposite side. Thank goodness I'm only doing it in 1/8" thick copper. So yeah, gotta admit my part in all of this. Haha.
Here's a couple shots of the mini mill. The first one is before I cleaned it up a bit and worked on aligning it with a dial indicator. The second is with an end mill bit chucked up and a busbar in the vice. And a couple decent LED lights I brought from my workshop at home. 😆
PXL_20220806_193851903_copy_1008x756.jpg
PXL_20220806_193851903_copy_1008x756.jpg (236.68 KiB) Viewed 216 times
PXL_20220809_195048964_copy_1008x756.jpg
PXL_20220809_195048964_copy_1008x756.jpg (243.88 KiB) Viewed 216 times
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