3D Hubs releases its quarterly report that shows real world data on which CNC materials and surface finishes are requested the most by engineers globally.

Every quarter 3D Hubs releases the Digital Manufacturing Trends; a report that summarizes all real-world data collected from a global network of 6,000 manufacturing services, who produce more than 200,000 parts are produced quarterly. It is the only report in the manufacturing industry that is based on hard numbers, providing the most extensive overview of the latest trends in technologies such as 3D printing, CNC machining and more.

Here’s some of the latest insights (from Q2/2018) regarding the most requested materials and surface finishes for CNC machining.

Q2 marks the halfway point of 2018. Spring is always a busy time for manufacturing and prototyping: engineers begin new projects after the end of the financial year and students are preparing their final year projects.

The Most Popular CNC Materials

Almost every material with sufficient hardness can be CNC machined. The most common examples include metals,such as aluminum and steel alloys, brass, or plastics (such as ABS, Delrin, Nylon etc).

In Q2, 19 new materials were introduced to 3D Hubs which had a big impact on the Top 10 most requested materials.

The most popular materials in Q2/2018. Other denotes a material not specified in the listed materials.
Aluminum 6061 is an aerospace grade material but also the most affordable material for CNC machining as is it easy-to-machine. In Q2, it was by far the most requested material but its market share was decreased marginally by 2.3 percent compared to Q1 as more material options became available on the platform. Even with this decrease, however, it still keeps the lion’s share with more than 50 percent of the machining being done with Al 6061.

Stainless Steel 304 is at #2, but saw the biggest drop in popularity in Q2, dropping from 11.6 percent in the previous quarter to 6.8 percent now. This is partly explained by the introduction of Stainless Steel 316 (at #9 with 2.6 percent), which has similar mechanical properties but higher corrosion and chemical resistance, making it more suitable for applications in harsh environments. The introduction of Mild Steel 1018 (at #4 with 5.0 percent) further impacted the popularity of SS 304, as it is a more economical option with similar mechanical properties.

Read more: The Latest Material Trends for CNC Machining