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What type of aluminium is used for faceplates?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY  
Author What type of aluminium is used for faceplates?
akrylik
Hi DIYers, especially eurorack DIYers. I'm thinking of getting my own desktop CNC router for routing my own faceplates amongst other things. What kind of aluminium is typically used in eurorack modules? I can tell the thickness is usually 1.6mm or thereabouts. What about the grade or alloy? 6061?
daverj
Since they aren't typically heat treated or welded, almost any aluminum alloy will work.

Many Euro panels come from the same source, which uses 1100-H. It's a bit soft, but works fine. 3xxx, 5xxx, and 6xxx alloys are harder and all pretty easy to get and to work with.
jarvis
when I make my panels I generally use 6061 at .09" for 4U or .08" for 3U
wsy
jarvis wrote:
when I make my panels I generally use 6061 at .09" for 4U or .08" for 3U


My opinion is that 6061-T3 (middle temper anneal) is probably the best aluminium
alloy for this sort of use.

It's eminently workable; you can bend it, punch it, drill it, and it holds together
really well (unlike something like MIC-6 or jig plate, which is downright brittle,
or 1xxx which is downright gummy and clogs your tools)

Besides, 6061-T3 or -T6 is easy to come by, relatively inexpensive, and relatively
good all-around properties.

As usual, McMaster-Carr is your friend. Check out what they have to
say here:

http://www.mcmaster.com/#standard-aluminum-sheets/=n1f7kl

- Bill
akrylik
Thank you daverj, jarvis and wsy!


I think I will go with wsy's suggestion and start with 6061-T3 because I hear routing the soft stuff with a CNC router is a PITA unless you use lubrication.
seanpark
I use 3000 series .060" because its what my local metal supply stocks. the cuts from the metal store arent great, so have them cut a hair small or get big pieces for someone else to shear.
akrylik
Its weird. I can't find any local (Japan) sources for 6061 in small quantities but there is plenty of places to buy 5052. Anyone ever routed 5052? Any problems?
6.4 Billion
Front panel express uses 5005... not sure how similar 5052 is, but 5005 mills very clean.

Definitely don't get 6063, I'm working with it now and every cut requires a finish cut due to how gummy it is.
akrylik
On a related note, I just got information from a metalphoto vendor that metalphoto uses 1100 aluminum. That's kind of a bummer if indeed the soft stuff is hard to route and gums up your tools.
daverj
Most MetalPhoto panels are punched.
wsy
6.4 Billion wrote:
Front panel express uses 5005... not sure how similar 5052 is, but 5005 mills very clean.

Definitely don't get 6063, I'm working with it now and every cut requires a finish cut due to how gummy it is.


That's exactly the opposite of my personal (and workplace) experience; 6061
(bought from McMaster-Carr; known good source) cuts wonderfully on our
CNCs, manual mills, drill presses, and hand tools.

Are you *sure* you got 6063? Oh - wait. 6061 versus 6063... lemme look those up.

No, they're pretty similar alloys - 6063 is a little harder and stronger, but otherwise
shows up about the same in machinability and in formability (better machining, OK
but not great forming).

Where did you source the 6063? Do you remember the temper (T1 through T6?)
Was it a "dependable source"?

- Bill
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