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Machining Copper-Nickel Alloys: Tips, Techniques, and Best Practices for Superior Results

Copper-nickel alloys, also known as Cu-Ni alloys, are widely used in various industries due to their excellent properties such as high corrosion resistance, good thermal conductivity, and exceptional mechanical properties. These alloys are commonly used in marine applications, heat exchangers, and electrical components. Machining copper-nickel alloys can be challenging, but with the right techniques and best practices, it is possible to achieve superior results. In this blog post, we will explore the tips and techniques for machining copper-nickel alloys and discuss the best practices to ensure high-quality results.

Understanding Copper-Nickel Alloys

Before diving into the machining process, it is essential to understand the properties and composition of copper-nickel alloys. These alloys are primarily composed of copper and nickel, with small amounts of other elements such as iron, manganese, and zinc. The most common copper-nickel alloys are 90/10 (90% copper and 10% nickel) and 70/30 (70% copper and 30% nickel). The addition of nickel enhances the alloy's strength, corrosion resistance, and ductility, making it suitable for various applications.

Machining Challenges

Machining copper-nickel alloys can be challenging due to their high ductility, low thermal conductivity, and tendency to work-harden. These properties can lead to excessive tool wear, poor surface finish, and dimensional inaccuracies. To overcome these challenges, it is crucial to select the right machining techniques, cutting tools, and cutting parameters.

Tool Selection

Choosing the right cutting tools is critical for successful machining of copper-nickel alloys. Carbide tools are generally recommended due to their high wear resistance and ability to withstand high cutting temperatures. High-speed steel (HSS) tools can also be used, but they may wear out quickly and require frequent sharpening. For milling operations, coated carbide tools with sharp cutting edges and positive rake angles are recommended to reduce cutting forces and minimize the risk of work hardening.

Cutting Parameters

Selecting the appropriate cutting parameters is essential for efficient machining and minimizing tool wear. The following guidelines can be useful when machining copper-nickel alloys:

Cutting speed: A moderate cutting speed is recommended to minimize tool wear and avoid work hardening. For carbide tools, cutting speeds of 150-200 meters per minute (m/min) are typical, while HSS tools may require lower speeds of 20-60 m/min.

Feed rate: A high feed rate is essential to prevent work hardening and ensure efficient chip evacuation. The feed rate should be adjusted based on the tool diameter, depth of cut, and material properties.

Depth of cut: A shallow depth of cut is recommended to minimize cutting forces and reduce the risk of work hardening. For roughing operations, a depth of cut of 1-2 mm is typical, while finishing operations may require a depth of cut of 0.1-0.5 mm.

Lubrication and Cooling

Proper lubrication and cooling are crucial for successful machining of copper-nickel alloys. These alloys have low thermal conductivity, which means that heat generated during the machining process can quickly accumulate in the cutting zone and cause tool wear or work hardening. A high-pressure coolant system is recommended to provide effective cooling and lubrication, as well as to flush away chips and prevent chip re-cutting.

Work Hardening Prevention

As mentioned earlier, copper-nickel alloys have a tendency to work-harden during machining, which can lead to poor surface finish and tool wear. To prevent work hardening, it is essential to maintain a high feed rate and avoid excessive cutting forces. Additionally, sharp cutting tools and positive rake angles can help reduce the risk of work hardening by minimizing cutting forces and ensuring efficient chip evacuation.

Surface Finish and Dimensional Accuracy

Achieving a high-quality surface finish and dimensional accuracy is critical for many applications of copper-nickel alloys. To ensure a smooth surface finish, it is essential to use sharp cutting tools, maintain appropriate cutting parameters, and use a high-pressure coolant system. For dimensional accuracy, it is crucial to minimize tool deflection and ensure proper workpiece clamping and tool alignment.

In conclusion, machining copper-nickel alloys can be challenging due to their unique properties, but with the right techniques and best practices, it is possible to achieve superior results. By selecting the appropriate cutting tools, maintaining proper cutting parameters, and using effective lubrication and cooling systems, you can ensure efficient machining and high-quality results for your copper-nickel alloy projects.

CNC Copper Machining

CNC Machining Copper Material is good electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, it is soft and good for machining as it has high plasticity, it is easily and rapidly to carry out desired shape as machining cutter can run faster than other steel materials, and also reach high precision.

Copper has a shiny reddish-orange finish, which varies slightly based on the surface finish method. Copper can be media-blasted and polished to achieve many different cosmetic surface finishes.

CNC Machining Copper Parts are widely used in the manufacture of electrical wires, cables, electric brushes, electric spark, and other electrical devices and products.

CNC Copper Machining

Benefits of CNC Copper Machining

1/ CNC Machining Copper Parts are excellent in electricity conductivity, supporting very good electric function

2/ CNC Machining Copper Parts are soft, easy to design into different shape, also suitable for many processes

3/ Copper is easy for cutting and machining, its production efficiency is much higher than steel series

4/ Good propriety for bending and shaping

5/ Heat transferring function very good, high resistance, temperature stability, long durable using

6/ Stable surface, non-surface treatment is durable, electroplating is also used on copper parts

CNC Copper Machining

Composition And Property of CNC Machining Copper

Copper Property Alloy Type Content Melting Point Hardness Tensile Strength Density
Cu-based Zn, Sn, Si, Al, Ni 1083°C HB35-45 Low 8.9 g/cm3

Common Materials Code of CNC Machining Copper

Copper Alloy Workable Processes Surface Finishing for Copper Parts Materials Code
CNC Turning, CNC Milling, CNC Drilling, Molding, Forging, Fabrication, Welding, etc. Passivation, Anodizing, Plating, Chemical Polishing, etc. Copper 110
Copper 101
Copper 145
other more Copper Alloy

Asianstar: Professional CNC Machining Supplier

From year of 2005, Asianstar Company establish the CNC Machining Factory in Guangdong Province, China.
We mostly provide CNC Turning, Milling, Drilling, Grinding, and Multi Machining processes service on various materials.
With the Belief of becoming a key supplier in the supply-chain of Precision Components, we strictly control our product quality, keep high precision on our components production, buildup the whole-process QC System and submit the satisfaction for every order.
By long term development, we have buildup partnership with world-wide clients, supporting our partners in Designing, Optimizing, Producing and Testing on each type of components.


Advantages of Asianstar CNC Copper Machining

Strong Facilities

Asianstar many CNC and stamp machines allow us to produce various copper parts, different sizes, and structures are all well done by suitable solution

Long-term Skills

Asianstar professional engineers team has experience from year 2005, producing copper parts for world wide electric products

Stable Quality

Asianstar QC system and QC tools guarantee our products are perfect result. We have procedures to control copper parts quality during production

Competitive Price

Asianstar aim to buildup partnership with clients, always choose best suitable facilities to carry out the components in competitive prices


CNC Brass Machining


CNC Machining Brass material is used for wide range components, we support clients to produce a variety of parts such as gears, locks, electronics, pipe fittings, etc.

CNC Copper Machining


CNC Machining Copper material is soft and easy to machining on different shape of components. We mostly produce copper components for electric devices by machining and stamping

CNC Aluminum Machining


CNC Machining Aluminum materials is one of our most used materials. We support clients to turning, drilling or milling on aluminum material from size 0.5mm to 470mm

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Stainless Steel

CNC Machining Stainless Steel are common material for wide range components, we produce Stainless Steel turning parts, milling parts, high smoothness components, etc.

CNC Titanium Machining


CNC Machining Titanium material brings components superb features, we use titanium to produce high precision work-piece for clients from aircraft, aerospace, medical devices

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Our CNC Machining Plastic materials includes ABS, HDPE, LDPE, Nylon, POM, Peek, Polycarbonate, etc. We produce them in high precision and high smoothness.


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