New part designs come in every size and shape imaginable to serve their various purposes, but they all share the necessity for quick production. Predictably, this is often due to a race to market, but there are other reasons. In some circumstances, the lack of a critical part may hold up product development for the rest of the system. In other cases, repairing an already operational system may require a replacement part. No matter the reason, design engineers need their prototype parts built as quickly as possible, and they often turn to CNC machining to get the job done.
CNC milling is one type of subtractive manufacturing process that offers many benefits, such as reduced time and expense, for those needing prototype parts built quickly. CNC mills are distinct from lathes which typically only create round, conical, or cylindrical parts. This article will look at the benefits of subtractive rapid prototyping using CNC milling machines.
Subtractive manufacturing methods fabricate parts by removing material from a raw block or rod of material. For a machine shop, this involves mills and lathes to cut, drill, or grind the material into a part with the desired size and shape. The mills and lathes receive their instructions from computer numeric control (CNC) code generated from the part’s CAD models.
Additive manufacturing is the other process used to fabricate parts, done with 3D printing equipment or injection molding. Both subtractive and additive manufacturing processes have their pluses and minuses. Here, we will highlight the two main benefits of subtractive manufacturing:
Next, we’ll look more into the specific advantages of using CNC milling machines to produce prototype parts.
While both additive and subtractive manufacturing processes have their unique benefits, using CNC machining to rapidly prototype parts offers four distinct advantages:
These advantages come with any type of CNC machine, whether it be a mill, lathe, or a combination. With these different benefits and advantages, here is what you can expect for rapid prototyping services at your machine shop.
Using a local CNC machine shop’s services will usually yield the best results for a rapid prototype part built. These shops can offer the following:
At Plethora, we understand the pressures you are under to produce a high-quality prototype quickly and efficiently, and we have many services that can help. Starting with our online part evaluation and ordering system, you can get feedback on your part’s manufacturability nearly instantaneously. From there, our sales representatives are available to answer your questions and help move your project through our manufacturing system. To get started, upload your design files to Quote My Part or call us at 415-726-2256.
The Plethora Team
The Plethora team is your go-to CNC manufacturer for hardware done right the first time. We have the tools and experience needed to create high quality custom parts quickly and with precision, whether you need a prototype or production run.