Poor Aluminum quality
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  1. #1
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    Default Poor Aluminum quality

    Hey all, I know that back in 2015 there was a thread about the same thing here Poor Quality Aluminum Sources but I feel like it’s time for a little update, 2022/COVID/supply chain edition.

    Our shop was waiting on getting aluminum for months and when it finally came in, it was time to make some parts. Cut a whole bar of 6061 T6 and tried to run some parts. We have a 9/16-20 tap and 10-32 tap in our program and for the first time in 4-5 years we’ve been having issues with tapping. The tap gets stuck or breaks off. The 9/16 tap took hefty tap wrenches to get out and the part was scrapped every time. Some parts made it out with no issues on tapping, but 95% of the time it was destroyed.

    That night I started looking on these forums to try and diagnose these tapping issues and I came across that thread I linked earlier and everything started to come together. The next morning I come into work and sure enough, The 6061 came from Service Center, everyone’s worst enemy when it came to crappy aluminum. I’ve had to modify the program to give time to oil up the hole and the tap manually (something I should have done much sooner I admit) and now it runs like a dream. But regardless, this should have never been a problem in the first place. Out of an entire bar, more than half turned into scrap.

    We have other bars here too, 7075 T6 from Taiwan Ye Fong, and a smaller 6061 T6 bar from SA ASTM. Does anybody have any experience with these places?

    Our distributor, coast aluminum normally sends us Kaiser stuff and we’ve never had a problem with them. Honestly considering all of the manufacturing/supply chain issues in the world, I have a hard time being upset at coast; I can only imagine that they got us what was available. 5 years and no issue with metal, and this one time it changes it’s all garbage material

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    I've run plenty of 7/8 dia 2024 T351 Ye Fong in the past. Was very good material. Just as good as Kaiser or Alcoa.

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    Just tell Coast you don't want any material from Service Center. I've had issues with Service Center material in the past, but nothing as bad as you describe. Sometimes Service Center is the only choice for thick-section flat bar.

    Regards.

    Mike

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    If you saved any of the SC 6061, send a sample to your supplier and ask them to check it for hardness. At least in my experience one reason for 6061 behaving "gummy" and locking on taps is poor heat treat and resultant lower than spec hardness.

    Obviously if you have a tester there do your own check and compare it to a "known good" piece of 6061.

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    Is the issue only with cut taps? I haven't had any issues with SCM specifically, but we try to form tap anywhere possible in softer materials.

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    I mainly run rounds ranging from 1" to 6"........................Kaiser 6061 has been garbage for the last few years.............stringy, gummy, can't break a decent chip...............it used to be my go to..................now I went back to Hydro...............seemed OK until just this last month. I don't think I have ever went through so many small ID groove inserts....................few thousand parts with O ring and seal grooves outa some 1.875"Ø............inserts would bind up in grooves and randomly snap off...................tried everything. Different groove cycles to break chips, re-ran the drill to clear chips, upped coolant concentration, ground in chip breakers, etc, etc, etc............ Normally I can get one insert to last 3-4000 parts..............in on 1500 pcs job I prolly used 6-7 inserts and 3-4 solid carbide ID groove tools.........................Few weeks prior I rand around 3000 parts in 2.250"Ø Hydro..................ran fine. One ID groove insert..........................and SCM................I really don't like it, but I'll run it in simple turn/bored parts...................

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    A fee years back, I was making a lot of aluminum pistons for hydraulic cylinders.
    My customer was supplying the material.
    It came from a local place that I never would buy material from.
    Almost half of the material had hard spots & 'inclusions' in it.
    I would be drilling for boring amd find a hard chunk.. Sometimes is looked like gravel or staged, and sometimes a piece of glass.
    The supplier would replace material only.
    After I kept charging them extra labor, they started letting me get the material.
    Is seems like I was buying from Jorgenson and Lokey Metals.
    They always sent Kaiser or Alcoa.
    That local place said theirs was an Asian brand ( Chinese I guess).

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    I don't use enough aluminum to comment on quality.

    What I do know for sure is, maybe 15 years ago, the quality of 1018 and 12L14 completely went to hell. That's when Nucor material became the only thing available.

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    That's not true at all.

    Republic pours 12L, and you can buy it direct from Republic, or I think that Corey uses some Republic HR as well.
    Republic's stock link shows that they have .5" through 3" CDR 12L14 in stock at their Massilon, Ohio facility.
    (there are a few holes in there with empty shelves waiting for the next pour, but ...)

    Corey also uses some HR from the UK that is good stuff.
    I ass_u_me that it is the same HR supplier that Barren Drawn Steel use'ta use back in the day, and theirs was WAY better than common 12L.
    On a hex job, I found that my Barren material - on a form tool lasted 2wiced as long, and a form tap lasted up to 4 times as long.

    I think that Niagara Lassale also pours 12L, but would have to dbl check that to be sure.
    Yes, I just checked their line card, and it lists 12L for sure.



    ----------------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox

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    I was talking with a head guy at a metal supplier about this issue as I have had problems bending 5052 as well sometimes. Always with grain, not against.

    Don't quote me on this, but I'm looking to see how true this is.

    I was told that due to supply issues currently happening for the last 1.5 years, companies have been pulling "old" (few years old as "national stock") and the alum can be age or work hardening just sitting there. So your getting material with heavier oxides and such on newly purchased material.

    I was told something like Vietnam or taiwan or something like that has like 20 million pounds that were already years old that are being sold as new stock.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

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    Sorry to hear about Service Center, the last batch I got from them a couple hundred pounds of 1.5" diameter machined pretty well. I was hoping their quality had improved, I guess not. Be aware also sometimes long trusted tool brands will have a drop in quality, but we are talking tapping aluminum here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ox View Post
    That's not true at all.

    Republic pours 12L, and you can buy it direct from Republic, or I think that Corey uses some Republic HR as well.
    Republic's stock link shows that they have .5" through 3" CDR 12L14 in stock at their Massilon, Ohio facility.
    (there are a few holes in there with empty shelves waiting for the next pour, but ...)

    Corey also uses some HR from the UK that is good stuff.
    I ass_u_me that it is the same HR supplier that Barren Drawn Steel use'ta use back in the day, and theirs was WAY better than common 12L.
    On a hex job, I found that my Barren material - on a form tool lasted 2wiced as long, and a form tap lasted up to 4 times as long.

    I think that Niagara Lassale also pours 12L, but would have to dbl check that to be sure.
    Yes, I just checked their line card, and it lists 12L for sure.



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    Ox
    My complaint about 12L is related to what was easily available in the NW through local suppliers, in maybe 500 hundred pound lots. Even Jorgenson only had Nucor crap. They did not offer any alternate sources. The Nucor material has a micro pitted surface, does not seem to respond to de-magnetizing and does not machine well.

    At one point I did get Eagle Bar from Canada, but my local guys didn't want to get it any longer.

    On the west coast what we had been getting for years was Martin Bright from Australia. Beautiful material with an almost mirror finish. When I contacted them about where to get it their reply was they no longer exported to North America, but would be glad to sell to me in boat load quantities. They did not give me any explanation as to why they no longer sold to NA.

    Granted my needs for 12L were relatively small since most of our big money work was engineering prototypes. I talked with several large screw machine shops in Oregon and SoCal who were as frustrated as we were in the NW. They likewise were having trouble with Nucor material as their only readily available stock.

    As to the 1018 CR quality, the problem seemed to be related to it being remelt so you might find a hard spot or a lug nut from your uncle's Buick in a bar. My supplier's response to complaints was 1018 is not considered a machinable grade of steel.

    I should also mention premium grades of stainless (like Carpenter's) have become harder to buy. We had an Esco warehouse in Seattle that stocked their versions of premium material in common round sizes, but they closed. Carpenter has apparently decided to not sell in small quantities any longer.

    The Great Recession took its revenge on metal supplies in general. We used to get drawing quality sheet locally, now the closest source is SoCal.

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    Just how much steel available today doo you think is virgin?

    Alum would have a MUCH better likelyhood of being virgin that steel.
    But that would likely be limited to material coming in from Russia and there abouts - via Iceland.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bondo View Post
    I was talking with a head guy at a metal supplier about this issue as I have had problems bending 5052 as well sometimes. Always with grain, not against.

    Don't quote me on this, but I'm looking to see how true this is.

    I was told that due to supply issues currently happening for the last 1.5 years, companies have been pulling "old" (few years old as "national stock") and the alum can be age or work hardening just sitting there. So your getting material with heavier oxides and such on newly purchased material.

    I was told something like Vietnam or taiwan or something like that has like 20 million pounds that were already years old that are being sold as new stock.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    Would "old" stock be an issue just for bending purposes? As I've got lots of old 6xxx and 7xxx material here for machining and never noticed any degradation due to age (well, just in me...).

    Anyway, 5052 isn't an age-hardening material, so what could the issue be?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ox View Post
    Just how much steel available today doo you think is virgin?

    Alum would have a MUCH better likelyhood of being virgin that steel.
    But that would likely be limited to material coming in from Russia and there abouts - via Iceland.


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    Service Center aluminum is recycled last I checked, but they are USA based. Who knows what they are recycling and how well they are analyzing the finished product.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milland View Post
    Would "old" stock be an issue just for bending purposes? As I've got lots of old 6xxx and 7xxx material here for machining and never noticed any degradation due to age (well, just in me...).

    Anyway, 5052 isn't an age-hardening material, so what could the issue be?
    Bending issue generally are only from wrong hardening temps and conditions. Like trying to bend t2 or t6 vs a good t3.

    I was thinking maybe this is a reason why the OP was chewing threw cutters.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ox View Post
    Just how much steel available today doo you think is virgin?

    Alum would have a MUCH better likelyhood of being virgin that steel.
    But that would likely be limited to material coming in from Russia and there abouts - via Iceland.


    ----------------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox
    No idea how much steel is virgin.

    I don't know enough about the steel making process to know if Nucor can do better than they are doing. Can scrap due to be remelted be segregated a bit better to come closer to a virgin product?

    The current steel situation makes be wonder how different the course of my business start up would have been if in 1985 we had crap Nucor steel. A customer wanted me to make weld pads, weldable mild steel, 5/8" diameter, length varied usually 1" long, tapped 3/8-16 5/8" deep. Dirt simple, but the catch was quick turnaround, like 200 pieces tomorrow morning. The customer dealt with pipe hanging systems for commercial ships and the saying was shipfitters don't plan beyond the next corner. So they needed product right away to weld to bulkheads to mount pipe hangers. I ran those on a Logan hand turret with a Lipe bar feeder, a buck each which was good money in 1985-86. 9 months of that customer, I had enough cash to buy a small CNC lathe to pursue the work I wanted. That mild steel work jump started my business.

    A few years before my retirement same customer needed a short run of weld pads. He supplied material with Nucor test reports saying 1018 mild steel, I could barely spot drill, much less tap.

    BTW, Nucor reads this forum, back when I started noticing their crap I ranted about it on here. Got an email saying they'd like to call to discuss my issues with their products.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug View Post
    BTW, Nucor reads this forum, back when I started noticing their crap I ranted about it on here. Got an email saying they'd like to call to discuss my issues with their products.

    Did they call? Did they say anything useful?

    If they call again, ask them WTF?...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milland View Post
    Did they call? Did they say anything useful?

    If they call again, ask them WTF?...
    Yes Nucor did call, or I should say they messaged me a number and I called them. Waste of time, the guy involved knew nothing about 12L, etc. His advice to me was to call Nucor's tech staff for advice in machining their materials. He said ranting about Nucor on a public forum was not the right thing to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug View Post
    He said ranting about Nucor on a public forum was not the right thing to do.
    Well, sure. Not if you enjoy use of your limbs...


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