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Three quick tips for CNC tools and machining

September 21, 2022

When it comes to CNC processing, time is money. For small batch production, part setup, programming, and machine run times often far exceed material costs.
Understanding how part geometry determines the required machine tool is an important part of minimizing the number of settings a mechanic needs to perform and the time it takes to cut parts. This speeds up the part manufacturing process and saves you money.
Here are 3 tips you need to know about CNC machining and tools to ensure that you can effectively design parts.

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1. Create wide corner radius
The end mill will automatically leave an internal angle. A larger corner radius means that larger tools can be used to cut corners, reducing run time and therefore cost. In contrast, a narrow internal radius requires not only a small tool to process materials, but also more tools - usually at a slower speed to reduce the risk of deflection and tool breakage.
To optimize the design, always use the largest corner radius possible, and take 1/16 ″ radius as the lower limit. Corner radii less than this value require very small tools and run time increases exponentially. In addition, if possible, try to keep the inner corner radius the same. This helps eliminate tool changes, which increase complexity and significantly increase run time.

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2. Avoid deep pockets
Parts with deep cavities are usually time-consuming and costly to manufacture.
The reason is that these designs require fragile tools, which are easy to break during machining. To avoid this situation, the end mill should gradually "decelerate" in even increments. For example, if you have a 1 "deep groove, you can repeat the tool path of 1/8" pin cutting depth, and then perform the finishing tool path with the last cutting depth of 0.010 ".

3. Use standard drill and tap size
Using standard taps and drill sizes will help reduce time and save part costs. When drilling, keep the dimensions as standard fractions or letters. If you are not familiar with the size of drills and end mills, it is safe to assume that a traditional fraction of one inch (such as 1/8 ", 1/4", or a millimeter integer) is "standard". Avoid measurements such as 0.492 "or 3.841 mm.
For taps, 4-40 taps are more common and generally more available than 3-48 taps.