September 26th, 2017
Advances in CNC Machining of Plastics
Within the past few years, great advances have been made in CNC machining of plastics and CNC prototyping. Whether you are considering different CNC prototyping suppliers or just desire higher quality CNC prototype products, the following advances, intelligently employed, are making a huge impact in the industry.
4 and 5-Axis Milling
An increasing number of suppliers for CNC machined parts are relying on 4 and 5-axis milling technology. This is in contrast to more traditional 3-axis machining. This multi-axis technology provides their customers with the most advanced machining approach available, offering numerous benefits. The combination of using a high-quality plastic material, plus good process controls and programming on this sophisticated equipment allows CNC prototyping suppliers to achieve results that were not possible in prototyping just a few years ago. In many cases, these machined prototype components exceed the design engineer’s expectation for what is possible in a prototype!
When properly used, 4 and 5-asix machines produce better quality and they allow parts to be made faster than on 3 axis machines. This is because the additional machining axes allow cuts to be executed without separate set ups. Multiple sets up operations can introduce potential human error into the process and also add time. Additionally, when CNC machine parts suppliers need to fabricate a challenging prototype that is complex in angles and surfaces on both the A and B side of the part, multi-axis machining makes achieving those results successfully more likely and may allow features to be cut that otherwise could not have been reached in 3 axis.
3D Printing and CNC Prototyping Services
Since being introduced, the 3D printing industry has used comparisons to machining as part of its business case in the market. The premise has been that printing is faster than machining. What that argument fails to take fully into account is that machining technologies are improving side by side as printing technologies are developing. As a result, CNC prototyping suppliers and machining companies continue to develop in capability using better and better equipment, which has allowed speed and accuracy to advance at a high rate. Thus, the situation today is that both technologies have highly useful roles in the product development process. The two technologies can actually work hand in hand to achieve superior final products. As an example, 3D printing has advantages with certain geometries and applications and there are others where machining offers greater advantages. Some have called 3D printing “additive manufacturing” while CNC machining is “subtractive manufacturing” based on how material is treated in the process. The reality is that both are excellent ways to prototype new designs fast without large tooling financial investment.
CNC prototyping is ideal for making parts that need precise tolerances, smooth finishes and parts made from specific plastics. For CNC prototyping suppliers that also work with 3D printing, CNC machining may be applied for the most critical functional part of the prototype while printed parts may be used on supporting hardware as an example. The bottom line is that intelligent application of 3D printing and plastic machining can result in a superior product.
Many industries, including medical, automotive, and consumer products, have high tolerance and functional requirements. Therefore, hitting repeatable tight specifications is critical. 3D printing and CNC prototyping are each important CAD / CAM tools offering engineers greater flexibility for making design improvements as they develop new products.
At GTV we take great pride in offering high quality machined prototypes and strive to be among the best of the prototype suppliers in our industry. Overall, our company offers design support, prototyping, tooling, manufacturing, and assembly for multiple industries to leading companies. Please visit our website to learn more about our different services or contact us by phone today.