5 Tips to Optimise Design for CNC Machining Parts

CNC or Computer Numerical Control machining is a manufacturing process in which computer software is used to guide machinery to manufacture parts. The process can be used to program three-dimensional cutting tasks on solid blocks of metal. The result is a high degree of automation and a more precise level of production.

Common applications for CNC machining include fabricating components for electronics like laptops and smartphones. CNC machines can even be programmed to create prototypes for product testing. This is useful for a number of reasons – Companies can quickly prototype their designs and make any changes before manufacturing in bulk.

CNC machining is very versatile and cost-effective, but every tool has its limitations. Keeping these limits in mind can help you create better designs before you start manufacturing them. Here are five tips to optimise the design for CNC machining parts.

1. Avoid Deep Cavities

When designing a model for CNC milling, it’s important to note the depth and diameter of any cavities. End mill tools are limited in their cutting length – typically three to four times the diameter of the tool. Limiting the depth of cavities to four times the diameter of the tool can help you achieve better results. However, if you need larger depths, you can design parts with a variable cavity depth.

2. Make Thin Walls Thicker

Thin walls have a higher tendency to vibrate during the machining process. The walls of plastic parts may also warp or soften due to temperature increases. This makes it difficult to achieve a high level of accuracy when machining parts. The solution is to increase the thickness of metal walls to at least 0.8mm and plastic walls to 1.5mm.

3. Round Internal Edges

You’ll need to take the diameter of the cutting tool into account if there are internal edges or corners in your design. One solution to achieve a higher quality surface finish is to increase the corner radius to one-third of the cavity depth. If your design needs a 90-degree angle, you can use a T-bone undercut instead of decreasing the radius.

4. Keep Small Features to a Minimum

Small features like cavities and holes can be included in your design, but the diameter of these should be limited to 2.5mm. Any number below that value significantly increases the machining difficulty and time, and should generally be avoided.

5. Optimise Tapped Holes

Tapped holes can be fabricated into CNC machined parts to thread a screw or bolt. While you can use an M2 thread size, M6 or above is preferable for the best results. The recommended thread length is three times the hole’s diameter and the minimum is 1.5 times.

Keep all of the above in mind to optimise your designs for manufacturing and get the most out of the CNC machine’s capabilities.

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Alex Morrison
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