We received a website enquiry and RFQ from a business having problems with their current supplier. In this case, the supplier was having trouble machining a complex aluminium part.

Of course, at Axis PEC Ltd. aluminium machining complex parts is a straight forward, everyday task. However, there are a number of pitfalls a less experienced engineering company could have trouble with.

This post highlights three ways your current supplier could be struggling and a quick way to decide what you should do about it! Read on to find out.

#1 Selecting the wrong aluminium supplier

Precision engineering complex parts requires the correct grade metal for each particular part. A simple way to mess this up is by choosing cheap suppliers. There’s always a cost to cutting corners… 

Poor quality materials could be a mix of say, 3 different grades, which would lead to problems later on in the manufacturing process. For example, using poor quality aluminium could result in pitting or inclusions during the anodising process and there’s always a greater risk of back-end defects.

Sourcing the correct grade materials for the project is critical and an important factor when considering using a new supplier – see here too.

Aluminium is an inherently soft material, a feature that can cause issues with your machine tools. Here’s two ways tool trouble can occur.


#2 Choosing the wrong tool 

Machining aluminium at high speeds can cause excessive adhesion to the tool of chips from the material being machined. The subsequent built-up edge dulls the tool so it struggles to cut through the billet.

Selecting a tool made from the wrong material can accentuate this build up.

#3 Sub-optimal tool geometry

Obviously, the optimal tool geometry is specific to the part being machined. In general, high helix angle is used when machining aluminium. This allows the chip to move away from the part quickly.

That’s great, but increased friction at very high speeds may cause the chips to weld to the tool, thereby reducing tool life and ultimately causing delays.


A CNC machine is only as good as the tools it uses to machine the materials bought. An inexperienced machinist can easily choose the wrong tool and find it won’t work with the quality of aluminium billet.

A workshop with the the right mixture of experienced engineers, cutting edge 5 axis machines and software will have no trouble machining aluminium. If your current supplier is struggling, maybe it’s time to move on?