CNC Machining: Maximum Extents

Find the maximum extents of plastic and metal materials available for CNC milled and turned parts.

Our CNC machining service provides the ability to easily add threaded features to milled and turned parts. Threads are specified within our automated interactive quotes. When a quote is returned, the 3D display will show which thread types are possible for each feature. Different threads (where possible) or no threads can be selected on a feature-by-feature basis. View a demo quote to explore a 3D model with threads. For those having trouble with the interactive display, a 3D PDF is included in the demo quote that shows the thread options available.

After an order is placed, an order confirmation will be emailed with the thread sizes selected. Please review the order confirmation for accuracy. We offer a limited selection of UNF, UNC, and coil and key inserts (but do not supply or install the inserts). See the table below for all of our available selections.

Milled vs. Turned Parts
Threaded holes on milled parts must be modelled at the proper diameter and oriented along one of the three primary axes. Automatic external threads are not available for milled parts at this time. Keep in mind that it is possible (but not recommended) to obtain external threads on milled parts, but in this case, the threads must be modelled. External threads are machined using our standard ball and flat end mills. The smallest external thread that produces reasonable results in our CNC milling process is roughly 1/2-13 (M12). Threaded holes on turned parts must be modelled at the proper diameter and oriented axially or radially. External threads are available on the axial diameters of turned parts. Simply model the nominal diameter—do not model the threads.

Please Note:

  • We may thread a through hole or continuous outer diameter from either side of the part. If the depth of the hole or length of the outer diameter is deeper than our tools can reach, we will offer to thread both ends of the feature. It should be assumed these threads will not be continuous. See the Maximum Reach tab on the table below.
  • All threads will be right handed. Left handed threads, and diameter and pitches not shown in the table cannot be produced with our machining processes at this time.
  • We may be unable to thread features that are obstructed by other elements on a part or that are obstructed by our fixturing. If a feature cannot be threaded, no thread options will be offered for that feature on the quote.
  • Threaded features are not available for parts loaded in the .STL format.

Threading options differ for milled and turned parts, so make sure the right process is selected in the table below. If you have any issues or questions please contact an applications engineer at [email protected] or +44 (0) 1952 683047.

  3-axis 6-sided milling 3-axis 2-sided milling 5-axis milling* Turning centre
Type Material X Y  mm Z mm X Y  mm Z mm X Y  mm Z mm Ø  mm Z mm
Aluminium Aluminium 2024-T351 | 3.1355 | AlCu4Mg1 254 x 178 70 356 x 254 44        
559 x 356 32
Aluminium Aluminium 6082-T651 | 3.2315 | AlSi1MgMn 254 x 178 93 559 x 356 93 Ø 73 99  Ø 75 228
Aluminium Aluminium 7075-T651 | 3.4365 | AlZn5.5MgCu 254 x 178 93 356 x 254 44 Ø 73 99 Ø 75 228
559 x 356 32
Brass Brass Cz121 (bar) | 2.0401 | CuZn36Pb3         Ø 73 99 Ø 75 228
Brass Brass Cz112 (60/40) | 2.0321 | CuZn36Sn1 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 93        
Carbon Steel Carbon Steel EN8 | 1.0503 | Fe 254 x 178 44 279 x 228 44 Ø73 99 Ø 75 228
Copper Copper C101 | 2.0060 | Cu 254 x 178 44 279 x 228 44        
Mild Steel Mild Steel S275JR | 1.0044 | Fe 254 x 178 44 279 x 228 44 Ø 73 99 Ø 75 228
Stainless Steel Stainless Steel 17-4 PH | 1.4542 | X5CrNiCuNb16-4 254 x 178 44 279 x228 53 Ø 73 99 Ø 75 228
Stainless Steel Stainless Steel 304/304L | 1.4304 | X5CrNi18-10 254 x 178 44 279 x 228 44 Ø 73 99 Ø 75 228
Stainless Steel Stainless Steel 316/316L | 1.4404 | X2CrNiMo17-12-2 254 x 178 44 279 x 228 44 Ø 73 99 Ø 75 228
Titanium Titanium Grade 5 | 3.7164 | Ti6Al4V 254 x 178 44 279 x 228 44 Ø 73 99 Ø 75 228
ABS ABS Black 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 93        
ABS ABS Natural 254 x 178 93 356 x 254 44        
Acrylic (PMMA) TECACRYL Acrylic Transparent 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 74        
HDPE TECAFINE PE100 Black 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 93        
HDPE TECAFINE PE100 Natural 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 93        
Nylon Nylon 6 SUSTAMID 6 FR Natural 254 x 178 44 279 x 228 44        
Nylon Nylon 6 TECAST TM Black 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 93        
Nylon Nylon 6 TECAST T Natural 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 93        
Nylon Nylon 6 TECAMID GF 30% Black 255 x 178 44 279 x 228 44        
Nylon Nylon 66 ERTALON GF30 Black 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 93        
Nylon Nylon 66 TECAMID 66 Natural 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 93        
Nylon Nylon 66 TECAMID GF 30% Black 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 93        
PBT TECADUR GF 30% Light Grey 254 x 178 70 279 x 228 74        
Polycarbonate (PC) TECANAT Translucent Natural 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 73        
PEEK TECAPEEK Natural 254 x 178 44 279 x 228 44        
PEI Ultem 1000 TECAPEI Natural 254 x 178 44 279 x 228 44        
PEI Ultem 2300 TECAPEI 30% GF Natural 254 x 178 44 279 x 228 44        
PET TECAPET / TECADUR 255 x 178 93 279 x 228 93        
PE-UHMW TECAFINE PE1000 Natural (Opaque White) 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 93        
POM (Acetal) Acetal Copolymer Black 254 x 178 93 380 x 279 70        
POM (Acetal) Acetal Copolymer Natural 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 93        
POM (Acetal) Acetal Copolymer SUSTARIN C FDA approved 254 x 178 44 279 x 228 44        
POM (Acetal) Acetal Copolymer Static Dissipative (TECAFORM AH SD) Beige 254 x 178 44 279 x 228 44        
POM (Acetal) Acetal Homopolymer ERTACETAL H Black 254 x 178 74 279 x 228 74        
POM (Acetal) Acetal Homopolymer Tecaform AD Black 254 x 178 74 279 x 228 74        
POM (Acetal) Acetal Homopolymer Tecaform AD Natural 254 x 178 74 279 x 228 44        
PP Homopolymer Natural 254 x 178 70 279 x 228 74        
PP Homopolymer TECAFINE Beige 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 93        
PPSU Radel R-5500 Black 254 x 178 44 279 x 228 44        
PSU PSU 254 x 178 23 279 x 228 23        
PTFE (Teflon) TECAFLON White 254 x 178 44 279 x 228 44        
PVC TECAVINYL Grey 254 x 178 93 279 x 228 93        

 

* 5-axis indexed milling (3 + 2 milling)


5-Axis Machining

5-axis* allows for a multifaceted approach to milling features from multiple angles, which means more complex designs can be manufactured.

With our 5-axis machining, it’s important to understand that the raw material used is bar stock (cylindrical). We have quoted the maximum diameter, the corresponding maximum milling envelope is shown in the diagram (66 mm x 73 mm x 99 mm). If in doubt about the maximum extents, please upload and we will provide detailed DfM feedback.

What is 3-axis milling?

The 3 axis refer to the X (left-right) Y (front-back) and Z (up-down) movements of the tool. Complex shapes can still be generated like slopes and contoured surfaces. A limitation is that holes and threads typically need to be on one of the 3 axis.

What is meant by 2-sided and 6-sided milling?

With 3-axis milling the part and spindle/tool are fixed relative to each other, the more features that can be addressed from one side the better (both for manufacturing time and accuracy). Protolabs offer milling from all 6 sides (think of drilling holes into a dice) on most materials. Due to their size, bigger components may only be accessible from 2 sides (the top and bottom or Z axis)

What is a turning centre?

A turning centre is a lathe, that also has milling capability – this gives you the advantage of much more complex components. The main consideration is designing in a “parting face” this is the last face to be machined and ideally should be flat. This face can be machined with a second setup. See our CNC turning page for more information.