"Dust" Collection when machining Aluminum?

I usually work with wood, but I’m going to try aluminum. I don’t want to mess with a blower until I decide if I like aluminum. I have a suckit dust boot that is amazing at collecting wood dust/chips. Can I use it for aluminum? Is this crazy? Is there a fire risk if aluminum chips end up in the same bin with wood dust, or does it cool down enough on the journey through the hose? Any other pros and cons to consider?

I’ve used the Sweepy dust boot for aluminum and it worked great. Had the same concerns about fire risk, though I think it’s unlikely, so I cleaned the dust collection system really well before cutting. The only con I had was not being able to see the cutting clearly because it’s just so cool to watch :slight_smile:

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Those that mill alum regularly can chime in but I don’t want alum in my DC. I think a cleanup with a shop vac after job is finished. You should use a bag and in your shop vac if available. Alum is conductive and you don’t want metal fillings in your vac system.

I’ve got a Thien dust collector in-line before my vac that probably gets 99% of all material out. Just check the dust bag on the vac and it’s got maybe 20% of capacity used after 6 months of hard use. Didn’t see any sparkly chips is in, but I didn’t dump the bag either. Also checked the hose for the system and there are a few shiny pieces, but really, it’s minimal.

The Thien cyclone was one of my first Shapeoko projects, guess I really should post the files to the gallery for those so inclined. So much time and so little to do, sigh.

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How long is the cut? You could use a toothbrush to move the chips out of the way if it’s a short one. Also random spurts of wd-40 helped when I didn’t have air blast.

Velocity based chip clearing here, vacuum after. As long as the chips dont start getting packed you’ll be ok. I never used a vacuum head but for heavy 3d work the longer bristles would start interfering with the endmill.

I’m sure plate work would be awesome with a normal dust boot.

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Cutting aluminum is always a challenge for me, I need to see what’s happening. Cause every job is new, never done before.

Blow first, suck later.

I suppose if you have a repetitive job, shallow depths you could use dust collection.

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and most important of all, if you do use dust collection, then you can’t have fun making silly chip mountains when the cut is finished!

image

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I wonder if these can be recycled?

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At the realtively low price of aluminum I doubt it would be relevant, but I may be wrong.
But just now you gave my an idea, it could be fun to try and use aluminium chips suspended in clear epoxy.

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And call it epoxyminum :slight_smile:

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The British would then call it, “EL-U-POXY-MIN-E-UM”! :smiley:

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Yes, if the chips are clean they can (and should be) be recycled (if not reused).

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@Julien - OK, now you’re talking about cutting plastic and aluminum together, can’t wait to see the feeds and speeds chart developed from that endeavor!

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Julien,

You do know that the aliens are not going to be landing at Devil’s tower?

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I’m thinking of using as Cake decoration for my wife’s birthday cake :slight_smile:

Julien - Best reason I’ve seen for no dust collection!

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