CNC Tips and Tricks

By Luke Smoothy | 19/01/2020


As we evolve we learn ways to make things easier – to take up less of our time and effort. CNC machining is a perfect example of this – advancing from manually-operated factory machines requiring constant supervision and to almost autonomous appliances. Though CNC machining is a time and cost-effective endeavour in itself, there are a number of ways to further minimise your energy and capital-output.

Material Cost

One of the first things to consider when creating a part of any sort is the material you will use. Of course, this varies hugely depending on what the part is for and there is a vast range of options. So how do you know which is the right material for you?

Firstly, consider the importance of the part; for example, if you’re just prototyping, it’s best to stick to a cheaper material like ABS or aluminium, whereas a medical implant would require high-quality metal such as surgical steel or titanium. The purpose of the part always dictates it’s material and, therefore, the cost.
Then, consider the sourcing of the materials – the exact same materials will vary in cost depending on where you get them from – take your time to find the best suppliers for what you need.

Material Type and Behaviour

Aside from the cost of the material, another thing to consider is the behaviour of each material with certain machining techniques. For example, although plastics are harder than aluminium, aluminium can sometimes be easier to cut because fast cutting of plastics can cause a sub-standard surface result due to rubbing.
Metal content – the more carbon a metal contains, the harder it is to machine, whereas metals with zinc or magnesium can be more machine–friendly.
Here, at Get It Made, we facilitate metal chemical analysis using an Independent 3rd party lab. This means we can check the integrity of your supplier's certificate by checking if the composition truly matches up with it to give you peace of mind – and a UKAS accredited confirmation certificate!

Check out the materials we offer for CNC machining with the pros and cons of each here.

Part Design Impact

As well as the material type, etc, it’s important to consider the following aspects when designing a part:

  • Hole depth – minimise the use of small deep holes where possible as these are risky to the integrity of your tool ( thin tools are naturally less durable and are more at risk of damage).
  • Wall Thickness – The thinner the wall, the more care is needed – thicker walls have better structural integrity and allow for a stronger design.
  • Internal radii – For this, bigger is better. The smaller the radius, the smaller the tool and the slower the machine. This makes for a less cost effective the project.
  • Cut depth – Similarly to hole depth, deeper pockets can require specialised tools so, if possible, try to minimise the depth where the design allows.
  • Type of corner – Square internal corners are more costly than round corners, so opt for round as often as possible.
  • Finishing – Not only does this aesthetically finalise your design, it can also provide protection. At Get It Made, we opt for bead blasting and anodising to provide the ultimate finish to your product. While anodising provides a protective layer with a range of colour options, bead blasting essentially removes a thin layer of the material in order to ‘erase’ machining marks so your design is blemish-free.

We've put together a comprehensive list of the best things you can do to reduce the cost of your parts, check it out here.

Do Your Research

There is a lot to consider when creating quality products whilst minimising cost, so it can be hard to know where to turn. One of the best tips to ensure you’re investing in the right machine, material and company is to do your research. Look at their portfolio (and if they don’t have one, ask yourself why!) look at what they offer in terms of quality and how open they are in terms of their processes.

To get yourself up to speed we have put together a comprehensive CNC Machining Guide to get you designing perfect parts CNC machining parts in minutes.

We understand that most people don’t have hours of spare time to spend researching which is why we offer a 24-hour quotation service. Within 24 hours our experts will assess your needs and help work out the best options for you and your project, we then take on the project management throughout the process, with regular updates so you can sit back and relax.

Luke Smoothy

Director and Founder of Get It Made Ltd.

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