Aerogel Technologies, LLC | Machining Guidelines
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Machining Guidelines

Machining Guidelines for Airloy® Ultramaterials

Following is a set of suggestions for machining Airloy aerogel products. These guidelines work especially well with Airloy X103, X116, and X134. Specialty products like translucent Airloy X56 materials may require different machining approaches. Contact us for guidance with machining specialty materials.

Overview

Airloy aerogels machine somewhat like a plastic or rigid engineering foam. Note that for some products such as Airloy X103 a thin film/machine marks may develop on the outside of the part from the heat of machining. If desired, this film can be hand-sanded off. Electric sanding is not recommended as it can tend to overheat the material’s surface. The material can also be cut using a band saw or other conventional methods.

H Density Materials

Below are ranges of machining parameters that have been shown to give good results for machining H density Airloy materials:

  • Endmill size: 1/4″-1/2″ (can go smaller as well)
  • Feed: 2-4 inch/min
  • RPM: 3000-5000
  • Depth of cut: up to 0.25″

M and L density materials

The best way to machine M and L density Airloys and achieve a quality surface finish is to use an abrasive Dremel tip. This method requires a high-speed spindle/CNC attachment. Good results have been obtained using:

  • Abrasive tool size: 0.16”
  • Feed rate: 20-40 inches/min
  • RPM: 25,000
  • Depth of cut: up to 0.030″

If this method is not available, the material can be cut using a standard endmill. Best results have been obtained using a larger endmill at high speeds to maximize the effective cutting speed:

  • Endmill size: 5/8″
  • Feed rate: 2 inches/min
  • RPM: 5000
  • Depth of cut: up to 0.2″

With an endmill, the Airloy part surface finish may be fairly rough, as endmills tend to pull out chunks of material (similar to machining Styrofoam). Using a lower depth of cut will give a slightly better surface finish.