Cast Aluminum plate source

  • 3D

    Hey all,

    Is there a place where I could get a single plate of casted aluminum for a reasonable amount of money?
    The plate I am looking for should be 300 x 300 x 5 mm (12 x 12 x 1/4 inches).

    I asked Metal Supermarket in Langley for a quote and they want insane $211 without shipping.

    I could buy it from US, but that’s still about $180 plus brokerage, customs and all that crap that would probably bring it close to same $200.

    My buddy from one rather distant and rather communist country claims they have pretty much same stuff for prices close to $30. This makes me think I am doing it wrong: there should be local-ish source, I just don’t know about it and my google-fu is not strong enough.

    Maybe some of you guys would even have such a piece? I would be more happy to give money to community member than to those “brokerage” crooks.

  • The last time I was at Richmond Steel (Ord Road Metal Recycling) they had some stock sizes of aluminum bar and rod and some checker plate. I wasn’t looking to see if they had what you are looking for

  • Linux

    @pierre met some people in a shop in abbotsford near the place I get dog treats. Maybe he remembers and maybe thru would have helpful stuff?
    @Nicholas would be the other person who may have connections for you.

    Learning and working on learning more!


  • What you want is probably extruded aluminum, cast section that thin will be five times as expensive or so. Asking in metric sizes will cost you extra, because they would have to cut it off a new sheet instead of pulling it out of the scrap bin (they will likely have 1/8" and 1/4" scrap)… I’ll dig up the business card of the guys in Abbotsford.

  • Electric

    It’s worth asking all the sheetmetal/fab shops in town, try NxStar, they probably have some Valid in Salmon Arm is probably a good choice.

    Ill ask around too, I lucked out before on a piece of plate aluminum for someone at the space.

    Pierre is right, you want extruded aluminum, cast aluminum would need to be cut to the thickness you’d require and will cost a fortune.

  • Asking for very precise things also raises costs… It is a significant figures thing. If you tell someone that you need a 152.4mm square plate, you’ll get quoted for milling a plate from larger stock to a tenth of a millimeter accuracy. If you ask for some square plate about 6" on a side they are much more likely to mention a slightly undersized piece that is in the scrap bin. If you show up with donuts and beer they might let you dig through the scrap bin yourself and quote you scrap price on what you find.

    If your mumbled Italian is good, show up with cash and talk to Tony the welder on Tranquille near the sushi place. He has an impressive scrap pile and makes good deals for cash.

  • If you are looking for cast tooling plate, I wound up buying a couple of pieces off eBay USA and paying the extra shipping. I just couldn’t find a small quantity source in Canada.


  • @BrianB Is that the stuff with the pre-tapped matrix of holes in it? If so, I’m interested, depending on size, holes and cost of course. It is wonderful stuff for making machining fixtures.

  • @pierre

    Yes, we have one of these for our Taig mill and it’s quite handy. The pieces I bought off eBay were about 12 x 22 x 3/4", for US$70 each plus shipping. They are for our larger Haas mill.


  • Probably a little oversized for my Sherline gear then… Probably weighs as much as the mill itself.

  • 3D

    Thank you all for advices!
    Extruded aluminum will not work in my application since this big of a piece would bow once heated, and bow distance normally is much greater than 1 mm on extruded plates. To overcome this I would need very thick plate (about 1" thick), but then I’ll need a bigger heater to heat that mass to 150C in reasonable amount of time.
    Casted plate is ideal for this: it just does not bow if you heat it evenly since it doesn’t have internal stress.

    I found out that McMaster has casted MIC-6 plate 12" x 12" x 1/4" thickness for $48. They do not tell you how much the shipping would cost before you actually pay for the stuff. WTF, McMaster?.. And I’m sure there must be some dumb anti-dumping tax for goods manufactured outside of Canada like that +150% tax for M3 nuts. (╯°□°) ╯︵ ┻━┻

    Initially I was looking for 14.5 x 14.5 inches plate, but no store sells it. Some stores offered to do a custom cut (out of 24" x 24" piece I bet) for a cost close to one of both my kidneys.

    I’ve been to Scrap Iron on Ord rd, they said the only casted aluminum they do have from time to time comes from car parts. No plates at all. Although I’ve picked up some thick extruded alu scrap pieces for cheap for cutting out random stuff ^_^

    Tony the Italian Welder does not have any aluminum at all, sadly. I like visiting his shop though.

    So far I’m waiting for the quote from McMaster with shipping. I’ll post the result here.

  • 3D

    @BrianB wow that’s a nice find. Although they don’t ship to Canada, I’ll try to pull a mail forwarding trick on them. Thanks a lot!!!

  • What’re you up to Tony? I figured you were building a really sturdy bed for your printer, given the dimensions, but I’m very confused to see you heating a printer bed enough to warp extruded 1/4" section… Maybe TIG weld or bolt on a skirt of angle around the bottom of it? Stiffens the effective plate a lot.

  • We’ve been watching lots of casting videos. Maybe we could cast a plate?

  • Well, it is only a 1 pound or so charge of aluminum… If we put a 6" steel pie pan in a bed of dry sand, I bet we could open mould cast it. If oxidation is an issue, it’d be easy enough to throw an argon shield up over the pour.

    I’ve got a basically fucked aluminum truck rim that just needs picking up and popping the trashed tire off it. Be plenty to cast small projects from, and it is an easy casting alloy which makes strong parts.

    @toxuin are there any features you would like to cast into it? Be pretty easy to core in threaded fasteners or whatever.

  • 3D

    It is indeed a bed for the printer. Heated to 150C my 1/4 extruded aluminum has ~2mm flatness deviation. It is unusable as a print bed without software compensation (which SUCKS).

    Fasteners built into the plate? Awesome! Three points for levelling would be amazing. I imagine it would be a pain to machine it flat if there are bolts sticking out of underneath it, isn’t it?..

  • I’m thinking silicone glue some steel t-nuts to the bottom of the pan, pour the aluminum over top, embedding the steel threads into the aluminum plate. Clean out the silicone fill, and you have durable threads that you can use for leveling/mounting points. Run a bolt and a jam nut up against it and it is solid. When the adjustment screw starts to show wear, you loosen the jam nut, and replace the screw.

    From experience: You want to be able to adjust the leveling of the plate from the bottom. Not need to peel the Kapton off to tweak the bed.

  • in the US sells 12" x 12" x 1/4" MIC-6 for $51.57 US.

    I ordered from them and had it shipped to Point Roberts and picked it up when in the lower mainland.

    Shipping to the Point Roberts is $19.95.

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