Aluminum

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Aluminum has been "the" basic material for front panels for decades. The main reasons for this include its strength at low weight, its good machinability and the possibility of achieving different color variations as a result of surface treatment (anodization).

General characteristics of aluminum

Aluminum is by far the most preferred front panel material, which has several reasons:

For a metal it has a comparatively low weight
It can be endlessly produced on "coils" while retaining the same quality (which is for example important for the dyeing process of a number of large panels)
There are many ways for refining its surface, for example:

Corrosiveness, abrasiveness and hardness (adjustable in the anodizing process)

Color (adjustable in the anodizing process)

Conductivity (adjustable through chromating)

Simple and quick processing
Comparatively low price

About 90% of all front panels at Schaeffer AG are manufactured from anodized aluminum sheets with thicknesses between 1.5 and 4.0 mm in different color versions. Of these, a proportion of about 10% has a conductive chromated reverse side.

Specifications and declarations of conformity

The specifications of the aluminum source material is available on the website of Schaeffer AG.

If required, compliance with EU Directive 2002/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 January 2003 on the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (short title: RoHS) can be provided for the coated aluminum panels.

Aluminum panels: anodized (standard)

The following table lists the available designs of aluminum panels with finished surfaces based on the panel thicknesses available in stock, which are also available for selection in "Frontplatten Designer".

Aluminum color sample

Finish / color

Available panel thicknesses [mm]

1

1.5

2

2.5

3

4

5

6

8

10

Tolerance ± [mm]

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.25

0.30

0.40

0.40

Anodized / natural

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anodized / natural, reverse side chromated, thus electrically conductive (reverse side displayed)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anodized / black

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anodized / blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anodized / gold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anodized / mid-bronze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anodized / green

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anodized / red

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In stock, front side (viewing side) is free from defects

Available from stock, front side (viewing side) may show irregularities (e.g. small scratches or impact marks)

Cut surfaces which are created in the aluminum source material by the milling process are generally not subsequently finished, so they appear "bright". Please note the points "Subsequent anodizing" and "Grinding outer edges" on this page.

The strength and rigidity of the panel material along with the available processing areas of our machines limit the maximum dimensions for machinable main plate surfaces. The requirements of the clamping jigs etc. limit the minimum dimensions for machinable main plate surfaces:

Thickness

[mm]

Short side [mm]

Long side [mm]

minimum

maximum

minimum

maximum

1.0

10

100

10

250

1.5

130

350

2.0

285

1100

2.5

500

3.0

800

4.0

5.0

6.0

8.0

10.0

Minimum and maximum processing areas of finished aluminum panels

Aluminum panels: cast

For projects with the following requirements, we recommend the use of cast aluminum panels, which are characterized by the high precision of the panel thickness or plane-parallelism of the front and reverse sides, and a largely stress-free body:

Panels should largely retain their shape even with large cutouts. (Note: The aluminum offered as standard is rolled into "coils". This causes tensions within the material, which can lead to the panel bending, if larger cavities are generated on one side.)
Panels should have a precisely maintained thickness. (Note: If subsequent anodizing is necessary, a thickness tolerance may need to be specified, as losses and also gains in thickness may occur during the anodizing process, which would need to be suitably controlled.)

Please contact us if you would like to anodize the machined panels.

Color sample

Type of finish

Available panel thicknesses [mm]

5.0

6.0

6.35

7.94

8.0

9.52

10.0

Tolerance ± [mm]

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

-

raw (unfinished)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In stock, front and reverse sides are largely free of scratches, however have pattern-like tool marks from surface milling.

Cut surfaces which are created in the aluminum source material by the milling process are generally not subsequently finished, so they appear "bright". Please note the points "Subsequent anodizing" and "Grinding outer edges" on this page.

The strength and rigidity of the panel material along with the available processing areas of our machines limit the maximum dimensions for machinable main plate surfaces. The requirements of the clamping jigs etc. limit the minimum dimensions for machinable main plate surfaces:

Thickness

[mm]

Short side [mm]

Long side [mm]

minimum

maximum

minimum

maximum

5.00

10

800

10

1100

6.00

6.35

7.94

8.00

9.52

10.0

Minimum and maximum processing areas of cast aluminum panels

Aluminum panels: unfinished ("raw")

Color sample

Type of finish

Available in the following panel thicknesses [mm]

1

1.5

2

2.5

3

4

5

6

8

10

Tolerance ± [mm]

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.25

0.30

0.40

0.40

raw (unfinished)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In stock, no scratch-free guarantee even for the front side (viewing side)

The maximum and minimum dimensions for machinable main plate surfaces correspond to the values for finished aluminum panels (see above).

Subsequent anodizing

The surfaces additionally created by machining - such as the cylindrical surface of a drilled hole – on the front panels we manufacture are "bright", i.e. the anodization existing on the front and reverse sides (where applicable) is missing.

For the cases in which subsequent anodizing of the bright surfaces is required, we offer an appropriate service. Please ask for details of the additional costs, amended delivery times and possible limitations to the finishing quality for your specific project.

Note: Subsequent anodizing of colorless or black panels generally produces satisfactory results. For other colors, losses in quality may result, which we can explain to you further when discussing your project.

It is possible to anodize cast aluminum panels. Please contact us to discuss the possible designs, the related surcharges and the effects on the delivery time.

Grinding outer edges

You have the option of having the outer edges of your front panel ground, whereby a) the finish is matt (similar to natural anodized) and b) all tool marks are removed.

The prices for this additional feature depend upon size and are available upon request .

To commission this additional feature, please use the input field "Remarks for production" in the properties dialog box for the main plate (File > Front panel properties… or Ctrl + f).

Powder coating

Powder coating is a process in which an electrically conductive material is coated with powder. This not only creates an additional corrosive protection layer and a "smoother" surface, but a broad range of colors can also be used.

Please contact us to compare your ideas with our technical capabilities.

We only recommend this procedure for anodized panels without color ("natural"), as the milling and engraving surface is best on anodized panels and this can also guarantee the necessary adhesiveness of the coating.

Mechanical constraints

Aluminum boards – anodized, anodized/chromated, raw and cast – with thicknesses in part up to 10.0 mm can be machined, however there are some limitations:

Not every thread can be tapped at every depth.
Not every drilled hole or every cutout is possible in every thickness.

For example it is not possible to mill a corner radius of 0.5 mm with the 1 mm milling cutter on panels with a thickness of more than 4 mm.

If your design is accompanied by requirements which fall outside the normal scope of manufacturing, we will inform you about the associated special price with the order confirmation.