Design Guidelines: CNC Milling

Our basic guidelines for CNC milling include important design considerations to help improve part manufacturability, enhance cosmetic appearance and reduce overall production time.

 

Size

Maximum Dimensions (3-axis milling)

254mm x 178mm x 95mm
254mm x 356mm x44mm*
559mm x 356mm x 19mm*

*These part sizes can only be milled from two sides, and in ABS, acetal, aluminium 6082 and 7075.

Maximum Dimensions (5-axis milling)

66mm x 73mm x 99mm

Minimum Dimensions

SIZE 6.35mm x 6.35mm
NORMAL THICKNESS

1mm

 

Typically, Proto Labs can maintain a machining tolerance of +/- 0.127 mm. Parts may be as thin as 0.5 mm in regions as long as nominal part thickness is above 1 mm. Maximum depth that can be milled is 50 mm from either side of part.

applications engineer working on CAD model

Design Feedback
For additional questions, please contact an applications engineer at customerservice@protolabs.co.uk or +44 (0)1952 683047


5-Axis Milling Capabilities

We use 5-axis indexed milling—in addition 3-axis milling and turning—to machine parts. With 5-axis indexed milling (also referred to as 3+2 milling), two axes are stopped while the tool is engaged with the part. This allows for more complex geometries and non-orthogonal features like off-axis holes.


Better finishes are also possible on non-orthogonal surfaces and because 5-axis milling increases machining efficiencies, more cost-efficient parts can be had.

milling off-axis features and holes


Materials

  • ABS 
  • Acetal
  • CPVC
  • HDPE 
  • LDPE
  • Nylon
  • PEEK
  • PEI
  • PET 
  • PMMA
  • Polycarbonate
  • Polypropylene 
  • PPSU
  • PS
  • PSU
  • PTFE
  • PVC 
  • Aluminium
  • Brass
  • Copper 
  • Stainless Steel
  • Steel Alloy
  • Steel Mild Low Carbon

VIEW MATERIALS >

milling a block of plastic


Surface Finishes

All machined plastic parts are left as-milled, which typically means they show visible tool marks. Some metal parts, on the other hand, allow more choice. Soft metals like brass, copper, and aluminium can be lightly bead blasted leaving a fine matte finish. Hard metals like steel and stainless steel can also be de-burred with a light bead blast which removes metal slivers and sharp or particularly rough areas.

PLASTIC

As-machined

METAL
As-machined, deburred, or deburred with a light bead blast
machined metal gear


Threaded Holes

We currently support UNC and UNF threads from #2 up to 1/2 in., and metric threads from M2 to M12. Avoid modeling internal threads on your part design.

VIEW THREADED HOLES GUIDELINES >

 

threading guidelines for CNC machining

Radii

Sharp inside corners on a part will be radiused (rounded) as a natural result of the CNC machining process. Resulting radii will be identified before the part is milled.

 

 

machining a radiused corner


Text

Recommended text considerations for CNC milling:

• Recessed text should have a minimum stroke width of 0.5mm.

• The spacing between characters on raised text should be 0.5mm or greater.

• If design permits it, opt for raised text versus recessed.

machining text into a part


team of applications engineers

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