CNC Milling

Our CNC milling process produces custom prototypes and end-use production parts in as fast as 1 day. We use 3-axis milling and 5-axis indexed milling processes to manufacture parts from more than 30 engineering-grade plastics and metals.

CNC milling design guidelines will help you understand capabilities and limitations.



What is CNC Milling?

CNC milling is a subtractive manufacturing process, 3-axis and 5-axis cutting tools are programmed and managed by computer numerical control (CNC), removing material from the plastic or metal block.

CNC Milling design guidelines will help you understand capabilities and limitations.


How Does CNC Milling Work?

We have multiple tool sets based on efficient cutters for a particular plastic or metal material. The machine then rapidly mills parts out of the block in a subtractive manufacturing process that uses 3- or 5-axis milling.

Machined plastic parts are left as-milled, which typically means they show visible tool marks. Some metal parts allow more finishing choices. When the run is complete and your required surface finish is applied, parts are boxed and shipped shortly thereafter.


Why Use CNC Milling For Your Project?

Protolabs’ CNC machining service can deliver machined parts, in both plastic and metal, in less time than it takes to get a quote from other, more traditional machine shops. Upload a CAD file, choose the material and part quantity, and tell us when you need the parts. We also offer number of CNC specific secondary services to support your project.

CNC material data sheets can be found in our Material Comparison Guide


CNC icon Logo
  • 1 to 200+ parts
  • Shipped in 1 to 3 working days
Common Applications
  • functional prototypes
  • jigs and fixtures
  • end-use components in lower volumes


 

 

Watch: CNC Machining process and capability

Protolabs is the world's fastest source for custom prototypes and low-volume production parts. Our high-speed CNC machining service uses advanced CNC technologies to create parts ranging from highly complex prototypes to functional, end-use parts. A range a plastic and metal materials are available through two CNC processes: milling and turning. Get 1 to 200+ parts in as fast as one day with CNC machining at Protolabs.



 

 

Watch: From Art to Part

Watch an initial concept for a product move from sketch to 3D CAD model to final part. Once a design is uploaded at Protolabs, we provide an interactive quote with real-time pricing information and manufacturability feedback within hours. Product designers and engineers can choose from various injection moulding, CNC machining and 3D printing processes — all built to produce quick-turn parts in as fast as 1 day.


Design Guidelines: CNC Machining 





How much does it cost to manufacture CNC machined parts?

There are 4 key factors that contribute to your parts, raw material, machine time, labour and speed.

It will be no surprise that some materials are more expensive than others, for metals, steel and aluminium are abundant and have the lowest raw material cost per kg whilst for plastics Acetal, Nylon, Acrylic and ABS tend to work out cheaper.
In the middle of the spectrum for metals you have more specialist aluminiums and stainless steels (containing expensive alloying elements) and for plastic glass-filled grades.
At the high-end you have materials like titanium (which is abundant but difficult to refine) for metal and plastics such as PC, PEEK, PSU, PPSU, PEI and POM-ESD, generally required to meet a specific need.

Things such as part complexity and material machinability play a factor here and of course the quicker you want something the more you are likely to pay, remember to compare costs like for like, considering both price and delivery. 


Resources

3D CAD model

Free interactive design analysis within hours

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