CNC Machining for Stainless Steel


Working with stainless steel presents unique challenges when it comes to machining parts in the shop. Stainless steel has a reputation for being hard and brittle, but that’s not always the case.

With the right knowledge about how to machine stainless steel, you can make your cutting tools last longer, increase material removal rates, and ensure that your surface finish quality stays consistently high throughout your project.

This article will help you understand more about working with stainless steel on the CNC machining center and give you some tips that will help you get the job done right and keep your machine running smoothly so you can stay productive all day long!

Why use stainless steel instead of Aluminum?

Stainless steel is easier to work with than aluminum. You can cut stainless steel using simple tools like a hacksaw and reciprocating saw, or you can use a CNC machining process. The latter is more expensive, but it’s worth it if your work involves intricate designs. This precision approach also reduces waste material, which helps keep down costs. It might also be cheaper in some situations to buy stainless instead of aluminum because some CNC machines are already calibrated for it.

These days, it’s not uncommon for an individual machinist to have several different types of metalworking equipment at their disposal. One disadvantage to stainless steel is that its stiffness makes machining more difficult compared to aluminum.

Because each machine tool has its own capabilities, there’s no universal answer as to whether one material will always be easier on any given machine. The main difference between them lies in corrosion resistance: Aluminum rusts easily when exposed to air or water while stainless doesn’t rust at all! If aesthetics aren’t important and functionality is all you care about then go with whatever material will get your job done most effectively without adding extra steps or taking longer because that’s time consuming as well and adds cost onto a project.


What machine is needed?

To machine stainless steel, a CNC mill or lathe is needed to cut metal. The machine that is used depends on whether you are machining parts with cylindrical features (mills) or parts with simple straight and flat surfaces (lathes). Either way, you can get stainless-steel inserts made to attach directly to your cutting tool in order to prevent metal-to-metal contact and prolong tool life.

How to set it up correctly?

When making metal parts using CNC machining, it is necessary to set up a number of variables so that all operations will take place properly and as intended. One of these settings that we’ll focus on in detail here is how to determine thermal correctives. The goal of thermal correctives is to make sure that your machine’s tooling (ie: end mills) are kept cool during use; if not, damage may occur due to overheating and possible loss of precision.

Safety First!

If you’re in search of stainless steel machining services, it’s important to take a number of factors into account. First and foremost is safety; while stainless is strong, it can still conduct electricity, meaning you should never work around energized machines when dealing with these materials.

Material selection: HSM works best on this material.

  • 7075-T6
  • 304
  • 316L
  • Alloy 20
  • Inconel 625
  • Titanium 6AL
  • Hastelloy C276
  • Zirconium
  • Tantalum
  • Tungsten Carbide
  • Boron Nitride


Is machining stainless steel safe?

CNC machining stainless steel is generally considered to be safer than machining carbon steels. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that stainless steels are very low in alloy content, and therefore do not release as much metal-fume or dust into our local environment. Secondly, because of their low metal content and lower melting temperature, stainless-steel chips stay solid rather than liquefying during cutting.

Machine setup tips.

The most important part of machining a part from stainless steel is setting up your machine. Your machine needs to be set up to deal with high-speed steels and hardened tooling, which will dull much quicker than usual. For example, if you’re using high-speed steel tools that are ideal for high loads and hard metals, you’ll want to use carbide inserts instead. Also, make sure your fixturing can handle heavy loads as well—many manufacturers recommend 1 inch of radial play for each 1⁄4 inch of cut.

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