The machine used in CNC machining is a milling machine, also called a “CNC machining center”. It uses a cutting tool called a “milling cutter” to machine the blocks of material. This machine ensures the production of plastic or metal parts. It is used for visual and mechanical prototypes. It is also possible to produce prototypes by unit or in series. Generally, the milling machine is automated by a software package called computer-aided design (CAD). A CAD model determines the geometry (size and shapes) of the products to be machined. In most cases, we need these 3D files to launch production.
Process: Firstly, the material block is fixed to a table in the machine. Then the milling cutter mills the part using two movements, one forward and the other cutting (by rotation effect). The rotational movement of the cutter is enabled by a spindle. The milling machine can have 3 or 5 axes. In the case of a 3-axis milling machine, the milling cutter moves along 3 co-ordinates, x, y, and z. Finally, the milled part is removed from the machine.
The main technical characteristics of the machining centers are as follows:
- The milling cutters can be differentiated by their type of teeth, cutting direction or shape.
- The spindle axis may be horizontal (the z-axis is horizontal), vertical (z-axis is vertical) or universal.
- The milling machine can have 3 axes, 4 axes (three linear axes plus one rotary table) or 5 axes (three linear axes plus 2 rotary axes).
- The production speed (this also depends on the material and the machined part).
Parts obtained: The machine allows the production of plastics or light metals (e.g. aluminum) and in some cases the machining of special steels such as stainless steel. CNC machining is used in various industries like aerospace, mechanics, optics, medical, etc.
Once the prototype has been manufactured by the machine, it is necessary to perform the following operations:
- Manual finishing (deburring, polishing, etc.)
- Dimensional checks with the caliper.
- Checking of appearance to verify compliance with the specifications.
For more information on your CNC machining projects, we invite you to take a look at our materials available in this technology. You can also send us your project via our quote request page.