The Ultimate Guide to Selecting The Best Materials for CNC Turning

The Best Materials for CNC Turning- Yonglihao Machinery

Choosing the right material for CNC turning is a critical step in ensuring the success of your manufacturing program. Yonglihao Machinery understands that the material chosen will not only affect the accuracy and quality of the finished product but also the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the machining process. This guide will look deeply at the top materials for CNC turning. It will describe their properties, uses, and benefits. If you have any questions, we also offer a comprehensive CNC turning service to help you select the right turning material.

Table of Contents

What is CNC Turning?

Yonglihao Machinery specializes in offering top-notch CNC turning services. CNC turning is a precision manufacturing process. It creates cylindrical parts with precise dimensions by cutting material from a rotating workpiece with a cutting tool. CNC turning is controlled by state-of-the-art computer numerical control (CNC) systems. They ensure high accuracy, repeatability, and efficiency in making parts. This process is critical in many industries. These include automotive, aerospace, medical, and consumer electronics. They all need high-quality, precise parts. With our comprehensive CNC turning services, you can optimize your projects with materials tailored to meet your specific performance requirements and precise specifications, guaranteeing superior results and an efficient production process.

Automated CNC turning unit for small metal parts

Importance of Material Selection in CNC Turning

Choosing the right material for CNC turning is key. It determines the needed mechanical properties, surface finish, and dimensional accuracy of the final product. The material selected will have a direct impact on the functionality and performance of the part produced. Here are a few reasons why it is important to select the right material:

Mechanical properties

Strength and durability: Different materials have different tensile strengths, hardnesses, and wear resistance. For example, stainless steel is strong and corrosion-resistant. It is ideal for medical equipment and marine use.

Weight: The aerospace and automotive industries favor lightweight materials like aluminum. They have an excellent strength-to-weight ratio.

Surface Finish

Machinability: Aluminum and brass are easier to machine to a smooth surface. This is critical for pretty and functional parts.

Surface Characteristics: The material choice affects the final surface texture. This texture is critical for parts needing high precision and smooth surfaces.

State-of-the-art CNC lathe with cooling system for high-precision metal machining

Dimensional accuracy

Tolerance requirements: Some materials have tighter tolerance requirements than others. Metals such as aluminum and stainless steel can achieve a high degree of accuracy, which is critical for complex parts and assemblies.

Thermal Stability: Stable materials, such as some high-performance plastics and metals, keep their dimensions better at different temperatures. This ensures consistent performance.

Cost and Machinability

Material Cost: The cost of raw materials can have a significant impact on the overall project budget. Aluminum and brass are often cheaper. But, high-performance materials like titanium and PEEK can cost more. Yet, they provide great performance for specific uses.

Ease of machining: Easy-to-machine materials reduce production time and tool wear. This cuts manufacturing costs. Aluminum is a good example. It is known for being easy to machine. This makes it a cheap choice for many uses.

CNC turning center for precision manufacturing of complex components

Top Materials for CNC Turning

Choosing the right material for your CNC turning project is key. It ensures top performance and low cost. It also helps you meet your project’s needs. Yonglihao Machinery has listed some common materials below, and we also provide a comprehensive CNC machining materials table.


Aluminum: Aluminum is widely used for CNC turning. This is due to its excellent strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance, and ease of machining. Common aluminum grades include 6061. It is known for its versatility and good mechanical properties. It is ideal for many applications such as aerospace and automotive parts. Another grade is 7075. It has higher strength and is commonly used in aerospace where weight reduction is critical. The third grade is 5083. It is known for its excellent seawater resistance and is suitable for marine use. Yonglihao Machinery has compared 6061 and 7075 aluminum. This will help you pick the right material.

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel offers high strength, corrosion resistance, and durability for demanding applications. Commonly used stainless steel grades include 304, the most common type. It has good machinability and corrosion resistance for use in medical devices and food processing equipment. There’s also 316, known for its great corrosion resistance, especially in saltwater. This makes it ideal for marine use. And there’s 17-4 PH, which has great mechanical properties. It can be precipitation-hardened for high-performance aerospace components. Applications. Check out 304 vs 316 Stainless Steel today to choose the right stainless steel grade.

Brass: Brass is favored for its excellent workability and corrosion resistance. People often use brass for plumbing fittings. It’s also used in musical instruments for its acoustic properties. And it’s used in decorative items for its durability, corrosion resistance, and looks.

Titanium: Titanium is known for its high strength, low weight, and excellent corrosion resistance. Titanium is used in key aerospace parts. This is because it is strong and light. It is used in medical implants because it is biocompatible. And, it is used in car parts to cut weight without losing strength.


ABS: ABS is known for its impact resistance and ease of processing. It is widely used for automotive parts because they are durable and light. It is also used for consumer electronics because they are rugged and easy to make.

Nylon: Nylon is strong and resists wear. It is used in gears for its strength and wear resistance. It is used in bushings and fasteners for its mechanical properties and ease of machining.

Polycarbonate (PC): PC is known for its high impact resistance and transparency. It is used in safety equipment like protective gear and shields, as well as optical lenses. This is due to its clarity and durability.

PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene): PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) has great chemical resistance and low friction. It is used in seals and gaskets because it’s chemically inert and can handle high temperatures. It’s also used in non-stick cookware because it doesn’t react and has low friction.

CNC turning on a brass component

How to Choose the Best Material for Your CNC Turning Project?

To pick the best material for your CNC turning project, evaluate project needs, material compatibility, and cost. This ensures the best performance, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

Project Requirements

Accuracy and Tolerance: The material selected for a CNC turning project must be able to meet the required accuracy and tolerances. Materials such as aluminum and stainless steel are capable of meeting tight tolerances. Aluminum is especially sought after for its ease of machining, which allows for high precision and detailed machining. Stainless steel is strong and resists bending. It is good for applications needing high precision.

Surface Finish: In many applications, the surface finish of the final product is critical, affecting both function and aesthetics. Metals such as aluminum and brass are easier to machine to a smooth surface than harder materials such as stainless steel. Brass is known for its excellent machinability. It can achieve a high-quality surface finish. This makes it ideal for decorative items and precision components.

Material Compatibility

Tool Compatibility: It is important to ensure that the selected material is compatible with existing cutting tools and machines. Some materials may require specific types of cutting tools or tool coatings for optimal processing. For example, titanium and some stainless steel are harder. They may need special cutting tools. These tools prevent too much wear and ensure accurate machining.

Machine Compatibility: Different materials may also require specific machine settings or even specialized CNC machines. For example, machining plastics like PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) or polycarbonate may need lower cutting speeds. They also need different types of coolant than metals. Picking material that CNC machines can efficiently cut is key. It keeps productivity and quality high.

Tool setting in a CNC lathe

Budget Considerations

Cost vs. Performance: Balancing the cost of the material with the performance requirements of the end product is an important consideration. High-performance materials, like titanium and PEEK, offer excellent performance. But, they are much more expensive than common materials, like aluminum and ABS. It is important to see if the added performance justifies the added cost. This is based on the specific needs of the application.

Processing Costs: The ease with which a material can be processed has a direct impact on production costs. Aluminum and brass are easier to machine. They cut machining time and tool wear. This saves on costs. In contrast, harder-to-machine materials, like some stainless steels or high-performance plastics, may slow production. They can also increase tool wear, impacting the budget. Considering these factors can help select cost-effective materials that meet project performance needs.

Various CNC turning tools for machining different materials CNC turning on a brass component


Picking the right material for CNC turning is critical. It determines the desired properties, like finish and accuracy. Commonly used materials include aluminum, stainless steel, brass, and titanium. Consider project requirements, material compatibility, and budgetary constraints when selecting materials. Contact Yonglihao Machinery for precision CNC turning services. We have the expertise to make sure your project works well and is efficient. Contact us today to get started on your next CNC turning project.


Aluminum is the most used material. This is because it is easy to machine. It also has a great strength-to-weight ratio and resists corrosion. alloys such as 6061 and 7075 are particularly popular in the aerospace and automotive industries.

Yes, plastics like ABS, nylon, and PTFE are often used for CNC turning in many applications. ABS is known for impact resistance, nylon for tensile strength, and PTFE for chemical resistance.

For high-temperature uses, choose a high-performance plastic like PTFE (Teflon). You can also use 316 stainless steel or PEEK. These materials maintain their integrity and performance at high temperatures.

6061 aluminum is versatile and easy to work with, making it ideal for general-purpose applications. 7075 aluminum is stronger. It can be used in aerospace. Weight and performance are critical there.

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