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Thread: Cutting Aluminum Sheets

  1. #11
    Eric Woodbury
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    Re: Cutting Aluminum Sheets

    I use a tablesaw with carbide blade to cut up to 3/16" (so far) aluminum plates. Make sure your safety gear is in place. If your plate is too flimsy, put it between masonite or equivalent for the cut.

  2. #12
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Cutting Aluminum Sheets

    Thanks everyone, I really appreciate all the suggestions.
    But I really wanted to know if the Rotatrim cutter, linked above, will handle aluminum of this thickness? Does anyone know? Has anyone tried?
    I reached out to the company here, but no answer.

  3. #13

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    Re: Cutting Aluminum Sheets

    The Rotatrim description you linked says it's rated for up to 3mm flexible materials. Maybe aluminum or brass shim stock, but I don't think it would cut 0.024" (0.6mm) aluminum well.

    I use a small shear at work to cut thin aluminum plate, FR4, and similar stuff. It works great. But I do have to apply some force to the lever even for aluminum that is only 1mm thick.

  4. #14
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Cutting Aluminum Sheets

    I have a Rota-trim 24"

    No way
    sin eater

  5. #15

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    Re: Cutting Aluminum Sheets

    Go to a metal workshop that can laser or water cut them. Any shearing on metal that thin will deform it. If you aren't in a hurry and they can add it to an other job you'll have perfect plates for little money, better than any other means.
    Expert in non-working solutions.

  6. #16
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Cutting Aluminum Sheets

    A pro grade dual-rail Rototrim should work. The rotary blades basically self-sharpen against the steel guide. The bigger problem will be maintaining squareness of the cut. You'll need to improvise some kind of mounted right- angle jig and hold-down device. But a Rototrim might cost you even more than a basic sheet metal brake.

  7. #17
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Cutting Aluminum Sheets

    Thanks reddesert, Randy, Havoc and Drew. Some conflicting opinions, and I'm inclined to think it won't be ideal for cutting thin aluminum.
    I found a second-hand Rotatrim Pro 24, it'll ship at the end of August. It's the dual-rail model.
    I'll try the aluminum on it and make a jig if it cuts well enough.
    If it won't cut aluminum, it's still a great tool to have, and will come in handy for many other things.

  8. #18
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Cutting Aluminum Sheets

    I actually have all kinds of fabrication equipment that can precisely work various thicknesses of aluminum stock, but you probably wouldn't be interested in that kind of investment. For just one of the saws, the specialized blade alone would probably run around $600 at current pricing, but I'm guessing, since the quality was so exceptional that it only needed re-sharpening only once in 40 years of hard use. It's the kind of thing used industrially. So I'm not claiming a Rototrim is ideal; but I have sometimes used one for clean-edged shim stock. With any kind of saw you have to sandwich thin metal between something else. And people do get hurt if they don't understand proper technique. Another problem is that not all aluminum is the same with respect to hardness. But a Rototrim is an excellent device to have around anyway. I have an especially big one all tricked out on a customized table that will square off even 40 inch wide printing paper rolls in the dark, and still have all my fingers too!

  9. #19
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Cutting Aluminum Sheets

    Drew, I plan on cutting plates for a long time, so some investment is needed to make it repeatable, accurate and relatively straightforward.
    If I have to curse and dread each time I need to cut some plates, it will be money wasted.
    So not a hefty investment, no need for an industrial machine, but a decent, reliable cutter is all that's needed.
    Thanks

  10. #20
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Cutting Aluminum Sheets

    I use rail saws a lot. The only one worth buying is Festool, and excellent nonferrous blades are available. But I was a major dealer for them, so got some nice equipment free as personal samples. If you do go that route, ask specific questions first, or you'll get confused. As a clue to the appropriateness of this advice, that is now the routine way sign agencies cut honeycomb aluminum panel, which is far trickier than ordinary sheet stock. And I know artists working with very intricate sheet aluminum fabrication that way, making seven figure metal sculptures. It's also dustless. But you'd be dropping at least $2000 to start. The reward is that you could precisely cut plexiglass, plywood, phenolics, make your own slot print washers, cabinets, storage cases, all kinds of things if you are inclined that way. And they're relatively safe, far safer than a table saw, and pack up neatly out of the way when not needed. But they take a little practice to learn if one grew up in an inbred caveman culture where everyone has six fingers per hand and can't figure out the metric system. I remember that dilemma well in high school... "How millimeters in a centimeter? How many pennies in a dime? Just count yer fingers, knucklehead", said the teacher. Sooo,"1,2,3... ", sure enough, "Twelve", responded the shop dunce sitting in the back row. ... I try to stay away from sheet metal machines due to sharp edges, even though I sold various shears and nibblers too, even ones that would handle steel half an inch thick, a monster tool I once sold to the Navy. Anything that needed a brake was taken to the sheet metal shop down the street.

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