Advantages of using magnesium for CNC machining:

Magnesium is the ninth most abundant element in the universe, the fourth most abundant element on Earth, and the third most abundant structural metal (after iron and aluminum). The material’s popularity in the manufacturing industry dates back to World War I, when it was used to make aircraft parts. Over the next few years, magnesium became increasingly common in the automotive, aerospace, and medical industries. Over the last decade, its use in these industries and the technology sector has steadily increased for the manufacture of laptops, televisions, cell phones, and countless other electronic devices. Magnesium’s natural properties and benefits for those who use it make it an attractive option for CNC machining.


Magnesium’s main attraction is its weight. Magnesium and its alloys are as light as plastic but as hard as metal. When alloyed, magnesium’s weight-to-weight ratio exceeds all other structural metals. This gives the material a tensile strength comparable to steel and aluminum, as well as low density in automobiles, which helps to reduce weight and therefore increase fuel consumption.

Magnesium is also very easy to process compared to other metals.

Sawing, punching, drilling, milling, turning and other operations run more smoothly when using magnesium, and the material requires significantly less cutting force and total production time than other metals. In addition, the short chips produced by machining magnesium will result in an excellent surface finish – a surface finish that is unaffected by the progress of a deep, fast cut.


The unique and positive properties of magnesium can provide tangible benefits when it comes to CNC machining. The short chips produced during the machining process not only have an excellent surface finish, but also break evenly and consistently, making them easier and more accurate than other metals. The use of Magnesium machining also requires less strength than other metals – about 55% less than aluminum alloys, for example – and causes less wear on cutting tools, prolonging their useful life. Perhaps more importantly, the savings from lower power consumption and longer tool life, combined with savings from faster machining speeds and higher magnesium feeds, reduce overall machining time, variable costs and your overall investment.


While magnesium is an attractive option for CNC machining due to its light weight, durability, machinability, and affordability, your team needs to follow some best practices to ensure safe production. While solid magnesium is difficult to ignite, magnesium powder, chips, and shavings are highly flammable—especially in strip form. When working with magnesium, your team should not only avoid open flames, but also make sure to clean the fryer and keep magnesium chips from mixing with other chips.

If they are not recyclable, the chips should always be stored dry,

 in closed boxes such as steel drums, separate from the chips of other materials and away from combustible materials. If the chips are wet, they should be stored in a remote location such as an outdoor warehouse. Although the finished magnesium parts do not require remote storage, they should be kept dry. Your team should also keep tools in good working order, avoid tight angles and water-based coolants, and use only an explosion-proof vacuum system to remove chips.

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