Aluminum Composite Panels are considered the most modern materials for buildings cladding, and they are the most recommended type of product, which bring extreme benefits. They are many methods and procedures for fabricating and installing these materials. One of the most common and valuable fabrication systems is cutting these panels for residential and commercial purposes. The cutting procedure is not always as easy as it seems, and it often becomes a challenge for homeowners or builders when the exterior renovation is required. This process is considered the initial stage of the installation and metal fabrication procedure. ACM panel cutting requires specific tools and equipment. Circular milling cutters and saws are hand-held equipment used for cutting purposes. Other industrial tools have vast usabilities, such as CNC routers, laser-cut, shears, and cold chisels. These tools make fabricating thin and thick longboards possible, and cutting aluminum composite panels will be done precisely. Before knowing how to cut aluminum composite panels, you should know what these products are and what are their primary applications.
What is Aluminum Composite Panel?
Aluminum Composite Panel which is also referred to as ACM panels or ACP material, is a modern metal product that is widely used in various industrial applications. These durable materials are produced from the continuous attachment of two aluminum plates to a fire retardant core material. The primary application of aluminum composite panels is building cladding systems. A building cladding is considered the skin of a facility which protects it from exterior elements such as snow, rainwater, etc. Thus, ACP companies and manufacturers produce these metal cladding systems with extreme durability, high versatility, and an aesthetically pleasing appearance. ACM panels provide numerous advantages over traditional metal cladding systems which are:
- Aluminum Composite Panels are Durable and Long Lasting
- ACM Panels are Ligthweitgh Cladding Materials
- It is Easy to Cut Aluminum Composite Panel
- Fabricating and Installing Aluminum Cladding Materials is Easy
- Aluminum Composite Panels are Both Fire-Resistant and Waterproof
- ACM Panels Require Low Maintenance
- It is Easy to Clean Aluminum Composite Material
Laser Cut Aluminum Composite Panels
Cutting reflective materials like aluminum can be done with a fiber laser cutting system. High-powered lasers can penetrate aluminum easily without creating any tooling wear. When it comes to marking ACP, CO2 lasers can also do a perfect job. A laser marking spray leaves a dark, durable mark on the material’s surface after it is applied. This technology is unique because it does not leave any shadings on the product after processing. The laser beam has a small diameter compared to another tooling such as router bits and die cutters. In addition, these machines can do complex cutting work and allow for more freedom than the casual CNC router. Aluminum composite panels having high yield points can be cut into pieces quickly when utilizing laser cutting systems, resulting in optimal sheet usage and reduction of material waste.
Shearing Aluminum Composite Panel
Shearing is one of the oldest machinery methods for cutting metals. Cutting aluminum composite panels with this machine is like using scissors for cutting the cardboard. For fracturing the material in desired blank sizes, the machine’s blades come together at a minimum offset, which is described as “blade gap.” The more challenging or thicker the panel, the wider the gap between the blades must decrease the amount of cargo requiring fracturing the material, up to the machine’s rating. The shear components are included with the mainframe, bed, square arm, hold-downs, blades, gaging, and control. There are two types of shear available in the industry: guillotine and swing bear that are hydraulic or mechanical.
Using CNC Router to Cut Aluminum Composite Panel
CNC router is one of the most used machines in the industry for cutting many materials. This machine is also applicable for cutting and fabricating ACPs. While cutting aluminum with the router, it is essential to remember to remove materials precisely, which is a tricky procedure due to the product’s stickiness. This effect can be reduced by using lubricants. Using a feed rate calculator is highly recommended in this method. This is because of the tighter windows for the feed and speed when cutting aluminum composite panels. It is good to vacuum the machine regularly to clean the remaining chips, which can be annoying while working.
Cutting ACP Using Circular Saw
A circular saw is commonly used for making straight-line cuts on ACM panels and modern aluminum siding cladding systems. The procedure can be learned quickly by anyone willing to do it at their home. However, due to its dangers, noticing the safety protocols is essential. The tools and equipment must be evaluated before the beginning of the process. A circular saw must never be turned on when the blade faces the material, which must be cut. Wearing safety glasses is highly recommended for protecting eyes from dust or flying debris during the procedure.
Before cutting aluminum composite panels, a fine-toothed blade must be selected, and the board must not be cut with a wall thickness of more than ¼ inch. It is better to have a cutting tool to create narrow kerfs. Applying cutting lubricants on the blades is necessary to prevent spillage and sparks. To have a better result, reducing the diameter of the cutting blade is recommended. C-clamps are approvable for securing the ACM panels on the worktable. Using a push stick for holding and moving the panel into the saw can be very handy for an added safety measure. The saw needs to be maintained firmly with the dominant hand, and then a downward pressure needs to be applied as the blade moves along the panel. It is important to remember to keep fingers away from the saw blade.
Use Jigsaw to Cut Aluminum Composite Panel
Cutting aluminum composite panels with a jigsaw is one of the most common methods in the fabrication industry. Jigsaw is a very versatile tool, and it is capable of making straight cuts through any thickness. This tool can also create angles and curves. A unique blade is required for the jigsaw to make accurate and smooth cuts for aluminum cutting. A 24-toothed blade or a cutting tool with more tooths is ideal for this purpose. The higher the teeth count on the cutting tool, the smoother the cut will be.
First, cutting marks must be defined on the material with a straightedge or a marker. Several drops of oil or lubricant must be dripped on the cutting point. This will make the cutting of the ACP easier, and it will keep the blade cool and extend its lifetime. The jigsaw must be fixed at the point where the cutting will begin. The edge should be about ½ inch away from the panel. Positioning the saw’s base plate on the surface, which will be cut, is necessary. After activating the tool, the blade must be slowly but firmly moved into the panel. While cutting aluminum composite panels, the jigsaw should not be forced into the material to prevent the edge from breaking.
Cold Chisels for Cutting ACM Panels
The cold chisel must be 1 inch wider than the material for cutting aluminum. After choosing an appropriate chisel, the tool must be sharpened to a 60-70 degree angle with a honing guide. Then, the composite panel should be placed into the vice’s center and tightened firmly. The alignment of the chisel should be done with the vice’s screw and hammering the material. It is crucial to notice that using a claw hammer is forbidden. This cutting method can be done in 30 seconds. Anything longer than the expected time means the chisel is not chosen correctly for the sheet.