What Is CNC Prototype Machining?

CNC machining is a prototyping method that allows pre-programmed software to control the activity of factory machines and tools. This process doesn’t require manual operators or any human involvement.

Computer Numerical Control also known as CNC works on numerical data that has been input into the machine and operated by a computer. CAD software is generally used for this process; that allows manufacturers, designers, or users to make the necessary designs of the product, then the software authorizes the computer to control the movements of the machining tools.

This method can be used for creating prototypes of the final product or scaling the production volume of a product. CNC machining allows the user to dictate a wide range of machines such as lathes and drills without any interference of the human hand.

CNC Machining For Plastic Prototype

CNC machining is one of the fast and agile methods for constructing plastic prototypes. In a plastic CNC machining process, the parts are created from plastic materials using digital milling machines consisting of 3 axes with software control.

CNC machining of plastic prototype is called the ‘Subtractive’ method because there is an option to remove materials. There are various types of thermoplastics that are used for CNC machining, they include- acrylic/plexiglass sheet, ABS, Polycarbonate sheet, POM/Acetyl, Teflon, PEEK. The best part of the process is it doesn’t need any molds, so it saves time and cost of production.

This process is particularly fit for prototypes with tight tolerance and is the most flexible and efficient technique for producing fewer than ten prototypes or models.

When To Consider CNC Machining For Plastic Prototyping

CNC machining offers more agility and economical efficiency than other rapid prototyping techniques. In some situations, CNC machining can offer better results than other prototyping processes such as 3D printing.

The wide range of material options and high tolerance ability might be the main reason why this method should be considered above other rapid prototyping techniques.

This rapid prototyping procedure is particularly suited for low production volume and it’s also inexpensive. So, if you need a product turnaround and also want to create a prototype without unnecessary materials and any hidden cost, then this is exactly what you need.

Advantages Of CNC Prototyping

Speed

The production speed of a prototype is a notable factor that should be kept in mind. CNC machining is comparably faster than other rapid prototyping processes such as 3D printing.

When the numerical data is put into the computer software, the software will automatically operate the machining tools with limited human involvement, thus making the process a lot faster. You don’t need to add the data into the computer, again and again, every time a part is made as the data is already stored there.

Quality

Quality of the product is very significant when it comes to prototypes. Constructing prototypes is not just about seeing the final outlook of the product, it allows you to verify the nature of the design model, how it will work and compete in the market and what to expect from it. It is a great way to find out the lackings, pros and cons of the product before going to mass production.

CNC prototype machining allows the creation of parts of very high quality. They can be precisely created to appropriate dimensions every time. It is very necessary to maintain the consistency of the quality of the products because each one needs to be similar to the others.

Cost

Cost is another factor that should be worth considering. CNC machining is an economically inexpensive method for rapid prototyping.

For example, if the construction cost of a product is high then the end-consumers will have to pay more to buy the products. If the price of the product is very high, surely they will search for affordable alternatives instead. You will likely lose your customers.

CNC machining helps to keep the cost down. This process limits the involvement of humans and outperforms their human counterparts so you don’t need to pay the labor cost and thus making it cost-effective.

Tighter Tolerance

CNC machining is a perfect choice for the parts that need tighter tolerance of +/-.005. The reason is it can compromise the tight tolerance measurement out and out.

This method is used to create high-precision industrial parts.

Greater Resistance

Plastic parts made out of CNC machining have an advantage over metal parts in terms of resistance. Metal parts can become rusty after a certain time whereas plastic parts are more rust-resistance and long-lasting.

Adaptability

CNC machined plastic parts are directly made from thermoplastic sheets or blocks by using pre-programmed software. It allows a designer or engineers to make small changes on the digital design between recurrences.

Since it doesn’t need new toolings for modifications every time, a little cost is required on upgrading parts.

Mold-Free

One of the convincing advantages of CNC machining is it’s totally mold-free. It has the efficiency to create parts without molds or any support structure; especially for prototypes and low-volume productions.

The most expensive part of Injection molding is the creation of metal tollings, but this process is not needed in plastic machining.

Suitable Plastic Materials For CNC Machining

There are several thermoplastic materials that are used for CNC plastic machining. They include-

  • ABS
  • Acrylic
  • PA (Nylon)
  • POM (Delrin)
  • Teflon
  • PEEK
  • HDPE
  • LDPE
  • PBT
  • PET

Simple 3 Steps Method For Plastic CNC Machining Prototypes

1.     Creation of Concept

The very first step of this process is giving reality to an idea by drawing or writing it down on paper or something else. By doing this, you will have a clear visualization of the product prototype. Once you complete this stage, you will have a better idea of if any modification is needed on the design.

2.     Developing A Virtual Prototype

If you have the option to use 3d design technology to create your prototype, then use it. It will help you to see the final outlook of your product, it will give you a clear concept on how it will stand up to what is expected of it. Better if you hire a professional prototype designer for creating the virtual design.

3.     Building The Physical Prototype

Once you complete the two stages mentioned above it’s time for the final stage to take place, and that is constructing the physical structure of the prototype.

After building a prototype, you might need to build a few more to make sure there are no flaws in the final form.

Once you get the desired form then you should search for a manufacturer for mass production. Just make sure the final plastic prototype replicates the product sold to customers.

Need a Supplier of Plastic prototype by CNC Machining

If you are looking for a trustworthy supplier for your plastic prototype, UVPLASTIC will be a good choice. UVPLASTIC began to provide rapid prototype service in 2005, at the moment, they are active in auto industry, automotive industry, building field, etc.