CNC machining bronze

Copper Bronze in CNC Machining

Bronze is a metal that is used in a wide variety of industries and applications. It is made of copper, tin, and other alloys to provide strength, durability, and resistance to corrosion. Due to its versatility, it is widely used in CNC machining applications, particularly in manufacturing high-accuracy parts such as bearings, gears, and other complex parts.

Bronze’s Machinability and Applications

Bronze has good machinability that allows it to be easily cut, drilled, and shaped using computerized machines such as CNC, thus making it vital in industries that require high accuracy, such as aerospace, automobile, and manufacturing of medical equipment.

Enhancing Bronze’s Properties

It is for this reason that by changing the composition and treatments of bronze, its mechanical and performance characteristics can be enhanced. For instance, phosphorus improves wear resistance while aluminum increases strength and hardness to suit a given application.

CNC machining bronze: The Process Steps

Bronze CNC machining involves the use of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines. The process begins with a CAD model, and CAM software creates toolpaths. The bronze material is then conditioned and positioned on the work table of the CNC machine for milling, turning, drilling, and other detailed work like engraving or etching.

Bronze machining

Quality Control and Polishing

Subsequent to machining, inspection is done using accurate measuring tools to check for compliance with the set tolerances and quality. Some of the last operations, such as polishing or sanding, may be done to give the required surface finish before proper packing for transport or for subsequent operations.

Expertise and Optimization

CNC operators are very important in the process of using CNC machines to machine bronze since they help in achieving the best results as far as accuracy, performance, and durability of the machined components are concerned.

Benefits of CNC Bronze Machining

Bronze CNC machining has many advantages that make it widely used in various industries. The first advantage is that its coefficient of friction is low, and hence, there is no need to apply lubricant frequently during cutting, as is the case with other metals that are denser. This feature not only increases the effectiveness of the production process but also affects the costs in a positive way. Also, bronze has high wear resistance and is applied to the parts that have to be more durable than other elements of a machine.

In the case of machining, the following benefits can be attributed to the use of bronze in a number of ways. It has high machinability and hence can be easily worked into the required form and shape. It can also be formed into intricate forms without dulling the cutting tools. This not only saves time but also the cutting tools which in turn helps in reducing the cost in the long run.

It also has a very high corrosion resistance as another property of this metal as mentioned above. This makes it a preferred material for parts that are in contact with the environment or corrosive agents.

Moreover, bronze is quite resistant and, at the same time, quite malleable, which makes it quite versatile. It is not the hardest of all metals, but its satisfactory strength, coupled with its flexibility, makes it suitable for structural parts and ornaments.

In the field of thermal conductivity, it is an advantage of bronze that it has high thermal conductivity. It also assists in cooling during the process of bronze machining so that the workpiece does not get hot and reduces the possibility of it shrinking or expanding in size. This is important in a bid to ensure that there is accuracy in the manufacturing processes and to avoid cases of wastage of materials and tools.

Components such as bearings, gears, and sliding elements are particularly suitable for use in bronze because of their low coefficient of friction through which the parts glide smoothly and for longer periods.

Disadvantages of CNC Machining Bronze

In fact, Bronze CNC machining has its advantages, but it also has its disadvantages that should be considered. The problem with bronze is that it is relatively costly to obtain the right materials to work with in the first place. Bronze is a combination of copper and tin, and as such it is relatively costly than other materials that can be used in bronze CNC machining hence making the overall cost of projects that require the use of bronze high.

Another disadvantage is the problem of when the tools become dull and need sharpening. Bronze is relatively softer, and as a result, it causes faster wear and tear of the machining tools hence frequent replacement. This raises the cost of production and requires the monitoring of the tools from time to time.

When it comes to machining bronze vs brass, CNC machining bronze is also relatively easier to get fine details and shapes than other metals. It is because of its softness. The material is not as hard as metal and, as such, may not hold finer details as well; this may be a disadvantage, especially for detailed projects.

The last disadvantage of using bronze in CNC machining is that it will take a longer time to machine the material. The other disadvantage of bronze is that the time that is taken in performing machining operations on it is relatively longer than that of steel hence increasing the time taken in production. This may impact the project time line and may require some changes in the planning and programming of the project.

Also, machining bronze bushings generates more heat than machining other hard metals like aluminum and steel. This heat can be very destructive to the tools and the quality of the cut, and as such, it may need to be monitored frequently and slow down the rate of machining to ensure that heat-related issues are well controlled. These challenges indicate a need to factor in and strategize when one is to perform bronze CNC machining on projects.

machining bronze

Common Alloys of Bronze for CNC Machining

Here are some widely used bronze alloys employed for CNC machining: Some popular include;

  1. Copper 932 (SAE 660):
  • This bearing bronze alloy comprises a high percentage of copper, tin, and zinc.
  • It is extensively applied in manufacturing bushings, bearings, and other precise components that require high strength and wear resistance.
  • It creates a thin layer on its surface that helps to minimize the contact between the surfaces and thus minimize wear and tear to increase the product’s performance.
  • Flexible, it can be easily shaped and sized to the required form and dimension using computer-operated machines.
  1. PB1 Grade (Phosphor Bronze):
  • Available in grades that conform to the BS1400 standard and is well known for its fatigue properties.
  • Has phosphor to enhance the wear resistance and stiffness of the material.
  • It is suitable for bearings, gears, valve bodies, and bushes due to its formability and better spring properties.
  • The tin content increases mechanical properties and corrosion resistance, making it ideal for aerospace, marine, and chemical applications.
  1. Silicon Bronze:
  • It is a copper silicon and zinc-based alloy in which silicon varies between 0% and 6% on average.
  • It has high strength, is easy to pour, and has good corrosion resistance.
  • Due to the high surface polish, it is widely used in pump and valve parts.
  1. Aluminum Bronze:
  • It comprises copper, aluminum (6-12%), and other elements such as iron, nickel, manganese, and silicon.
  • Austenitic, strong, corrosion resistant, and employed in naval hardware, pumps, and petrochemical industry.
  • It is anti-corrosive in seawater and is used in the oil, petrochemical, and water supply industries.
  1. Bearing Bronze:
  • It has a 6-8% lead for low friction, making it good for use where there is a lot of friction.
  • Due to its low friction property, it is extensively used in bearings and bushings.
  1. Bismuth Bronze:
  • It has 1-6% bismuth which gives it flexibility, thermal conductivity, and corrosion resistance.
  • It is used in bearings, light reflectors, mirrors, and cookery.
  1. Manganese Bronze:
  • May contain up to 3% manganese and has good shock and saltwater corrosion resistance.
  • Used in boat propellers, valve parts, gears, and rapid tooling due to its non-corrosive characteristic.
  1. Copper-Nickel Bronze (Cupronickel):
  • Has more nickel (2-30%), is strong, and is corrosion-resistant.
  • It is used in electronics, marine, ships, pumps, valves, and many other industries.

Surface Finishes for Bronze CNC Machining

Bronze has good mechanical properties; it is easy to machine and has good corrosion resistance hence suitable for CNC machining. Different surface finishes can enhance its performance and appearance: It is also possible to improve its performance and appearance by varying the surface treatment:

1. As-machined Surface Finish:

  • The final process following CNC machining; is typically a surface finish that can be shiny with a non-reflective surface.
  • It is inexpensive and does not require other processes to be performed.
  • May have minor tool marks or burrs that may be removed by post-machining operations.

2. Bead Blasting Finish:

  • This process involves the use of fine glass beads to polish the surface and make it as smooth as possible without any roughness.
  • Enhances the appearance and erases minor imperfections that may be on the surface of the material.
  • Extends the time taken to produce the material and the cost, but the surface finish of the material is improved.

3. Chemical Coatings Finish:

  • Chemicals are applied on the surface to get specific properties like anti-corrosive or aesthetic properties.
  • Provides a long-term and individualized substrate.
  • It is more complex and requires additional steps but offers certain characteristics of the surface.

machining bronze bushings

Each surface finish type has pros and cons, and the choice depends on the application, functionality, and price of the CNC machining of bronze parts.

Cost Optimization & Design Tips for Bronze CNC Machining

Bronze CNC machining has several cost-saving design strategies. First of all, there are additional processes that may be required after the machining process to achieve the desired surface finish or to improve the performance of the component, and these should be incorporated in the design stage to minimize additional costs and time.

Moreover, the thickness of the walls of the bronze parts should also be improved. It is also important not to make the parts too thin as this may cause distortion when being machined, while on the other extreme, it may be challenging to machine thick parts, and this may lead to wastage of material.

Choosing the Right Bronze Type

Another important factor is the selection of the right bronze type. The specific requirements of the application can be matched with the right bronze alloy, which will enhance efficiency and durability while reducing expenses. In addition, avoiding undercuts in design can also be useful in reducing the difficulty and cost of machining complex shapes.

Design Considerations for Bronze CNC Machining

It is also necessary to avoid sharp corners and edges. Bronze, being a softer material, is vulnerable to stress concentrations at sharp points and may crack or fail structurally. Designing the corners of the part or fillets distributes the stress evenly, thus making the part stronger and more durable.

Where The CNC Bronze Machining Parts Are Employed?

CNC-machined bronze parts are very popular in many industries due to the excellent properties of the bronze material.  In agriculture, they are employed in the manufacturing of components like bushings and bearings that are employed in loads and harsh environment applications.  Automotive industries employ bronze in threads, gears, and electrical terminals, which are used in almost all systems in automobiles.

Similarly, in heavy machinery sectors, the bronze parts like screws and bushing are incorporated as crucial parts which assist in the smooth running of the machinery and reduce the rate of degradation.  Bronze is a very useful material when it comes to machining parts that are required to be strong, wear-resistant, and highly reliable in certain conditions because of the elasticity of the material.

Summing Up

CNC-machined bronze parts are crucial in the agricultural, automobile, and heavy-duty machinery industries due to the material’s hardness, strength, and flexibility. These parts are important to ensure that the operation is efficient, reliable, and long-lasting in harsh environments, which are parts of modern production processes.

CNM TECH is one of top 10 aluminum die casting manufacturers in China, that specializes in the production of bronze parts through CNC machining, die casting parts, and we ensure that our products are of high quality and precision. Since we are a specialist in bronze CNC machining, we offer solutions that conform to the needs of a particular industry, promoting advancement within that particular sector. Select CNM Tech as your CNC-machined bronze parts supplier to obtain better performance and outcomes in your field.