Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is chemical milling?

A: Chemical milling, sometimes called chemical machining, is a process used to reduce the weight of aircraft parts by selectively removing precise amounts of material with chemical solutions versus mechanical operations like CNC.

Q: What kind of metals are, or can be, chemically milled?

A: The most common metals that can be chemically milled are aluminum, stainless steel and titanium with each requiring a different milling chemical solution.  TAM specializes in milling aluminum only.

Q: How does the chemical milling process work?

A: Parts to be chemically milled are first covered with a special coating which after curing is cut and removed from specific areas to expose the part surface.  The part is then immersed into a solution that dissolves the exposed areas on a carefully timed basis which depends upon the material type, solution temperature and chemistry used.  Milling is highly controllable and can provide tolerances of plus or minus 0.002.

Q: Are there any advantages to using chemical milling?

A: There are several advantages to using chemical milling not the least of which is that many parts can be processed simultaneously instead of individually.  Another advantage comes from the fact that many aircraft parts are formed with complex contours that would make it difficult, or even impossible, to mill by another means.  Also, exterior skin parts can be milled to very thin dimensions (.020) without heat warping that can be caused by conventional machining.

Q: Are there any special requirements needed for chemical milling?

A: Chemical milling does require that a reusable hard tool (or template) be available in order to accurately transfer the blueprint layout of the milled areas to the material.  These durable tools can be used for many years without needing replacement and are usually available through the original aircraft manufacturer.  Tooling can be fabricated and provided by TAM if needed.  You are welcome to contact TAM if you have any questions.  Its time and money saved for everyone if tools are correctly set up the first time.


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