Posted on 2 Comments

CNC Routing – Steel Composite Material

CNC Routing Steel Composite Material

At CNC Tooling Shop, we are often asked if it’s possible to cut steel composite materials, such as Duraplate or Maxmetal Element, on our CNC Routers. I’ve heard conflicting statements, so I thought I’d do some testing and share the findings. The goal was to not only cut the material but to also find out how the tools fare and find the optimal feeds and speeds to achieve the best quality. A customer sent us some Duraplate and we were off to the races.

Duraplate composite panels were invented by Wabash National in Lafayette, Indiana (1996) for freight trailers, truck bodies and portable storage containers. It consists of two skins (80,000 psi-yield galvanized steel) that sandwich a high density polyethylene core. Coatings on the steel insure longevity and corrosion protection. It doesn’t absorb moisture and beats out the previous method of using plywood or fiberglass reinforced panels that rip and splinter. Since this creation has come about, other applications include military, building, storage, and industrial products.

With an array of research and testing, we found that the Saber Series four flute coated bit from X-Edge Tools worked the best. The bits were created to cut Steel Composite Material. The coating makes them durable and long lasting. No other CNC bit, that we tested, offered anywhere near as well of a finish.

XS2052 (Saber Series) 1/4″ Diameter

Results explained:

Routing the Duraplate at 114-200 IPM / 14,000 RPM with XS2052 (BUY HERE) worked perfectly once we found out that climb cut was the proper direction. Our plunge rate was 70 IPM and we used an alcohol-based misting fluid called Liquid-X (BUY HERE). It left behind a healthy chip size and a clean cut. We started with a 4’ X 4’ square and cut smaller and smaller squares until we only had 6” by 6” left. The bit we used could have cut much more before finally getting dull, so we can assume that the tool life is acceptable when cutting at proper feeds/speeds.

Duraplate Cutting Chips

We also tried cutting at different feeds and speeds, without luck. Cutting faster resulted in the spoil board burning, decreased cut quality, and a loud screeching sound from the tool hitting the material. I would expect the tool to wear out very fast if used faster than recommended as well as being a fire hazard. Cutting slower than recommended didn’t leave as nice of cut quality and could possibly lead to tools breaking and wearing fast.

Cutting Duraplate Too Fast

Quick Details / Recommendations:

  • Material: 6mm steel composite material (Duraplate)
  • CNC Bit: X-Edge Tools # XS2052 (BUY HERE)
  • Feed Rate: 114-200 IPM
  • Plunge Rate: 70 IPM
  • Spindle Speed: 14,000 RPM
  • Number of Passes: 1
  • Misting: Alcohol-based Misting Fluid (BUY HERE)

Stay tuned for many more articles to come related to CNC routing from CNC Tooling Shop. We will also be sharing videos and updates on our (and Specialty Machinery Inc.’s) social media pages. Stay up-to-date by following us on LinkedInFacebook, or YouTube.

If you need any help with cutting specific materials on your CNC machine, please call me at (616) 502-7277. I manage the tooling department, where we distribute CNC tooling for an array for CNC machinists and companies. We are known for but not limited to working with brands such as X-Edge Tools, LMT Onsrud, Techniks, Whiteside, LMT Belin, Amana, Monster Tool Company, and more. Thanks for stopping by.

Greg Smolka (Author)

CNC Tooling & Application Manager

Here to help with tooling recommendations (bits, knives, collets, tool holders, maintenance kits, torque stations, etc.) and cutting recommendations (feeds/speeds, tips/tricks, # of passes, etc.).


2 thoughts on “CNC Routing – Steel Composite Material

  1. It’s good to know you’ve had success with this. We have a sheet of galvanized composite material (similar to ACM) and I didn’t think we could do anything with it. At least I know I have an option now!

    1. Absolutely. If you plan to test anything out, feel free to give us a call for any further information. You can also send us a sample the material to test here. We are more than happy to help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *