Here at Toolcraft, when we work with our client’s designs to produce high-performance CNC machined parts, we know many things have to be considered: materials, uses, sizes, shapes, and more… But no matter how complex a design is, we’re always making sure that our partners keep the fundamentals of the design process in mind. Here are points to consider when designing parts that will need precision manufacturing.

1. Understanding the basics of CNC machining

When designing parts for CNC machining, it is important to understand the basics of the process. CNC machining is a manufacturing process that uses computer-controlled machinery to create parts or products from metal, plastic, or other materials. This allows for great precision and repeatability in the manufacturing process. CNC machining is a versatile process that can be used to create a variety of different parts. The type of part that can be created through CNC machining is limited only by the imagination of the designer. In addition, the precision and accuracy of CNC machining mean that parts can be made to very tight tolerances. This makes CNC machining a popular choice for producing high-quality parts and products.

The first step in designing a part for CNC machining is determining the specifications of the part, including its dimensions and the type of material it’s being made from. Once the specifications of the part have been determined, a design must be created. This can be done using a computer-aided design (CAD) program, or by hand using sketches or engineering drawings. The CAD program will allow the designer to create a 3D model of the part, which can then be CNC machined. If hand-drawn sketches are used, they must be converted into a CAD program before machining. Once the 3D model is created, the next step is to create the tool paths that will be used to machine the part. This involves creating a series of paths that will define how the tool will move around the part, and what cuts it will make.

You also need to consider how the part will be mounted to the machine and what type of tooling will be used to create it. Once you have determined these specifications, you can begin drafting your part design. 

It’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • The shape and size of the part should be as simple as possible. Complex shapes can be difficult to machine and may result in inaccurate finished products.
  • The dimensions of the part should be precise. Any deviations from the desired size can lead to inaccurate finished products.
  • The features of the part should be consistent in size and shape. Inconsistent features can lead to problems with machine tooling and inaccurate finished products.
  • Sharp corners and edges should be avoided, as they can cause damage to tooling and lead to inaccurate finished products. Rounded corners are less likely to cause damage and are easier to machine accurately.
  • Holes and slots should be sized appropriately for the tooling that will be used to create them. If they are too large or too small, they may not be machinable or could result in inaccurate finished products.
  • Threaded holes should be designed with proper thread pitch and diameter so that they can be threaded properly by the machine tooling being used. Improperly threaded holes can cause problems with machine tooling and lead to inaccurate finished products.

2. Designing CNC machined parts with the process in mind

To design parts that are suitable for CNC machining, it’s important to understand the capabilities and limitations of the process. Parts that are too complex or intricate may be difficult or impossible to machine using CNC technology. It’s also important to consider the size and shape of the part, as well as the type of material that will be used.

The best way to learn about CNC machining is to experiment with different designs and see what works best for your needs. There are many online resources available, and most CAD software programs include tools for creating CNC-ready parts.

When designing parts for CNC machined parts, it’s important to consider: 

  • The part should be designed with allowance for excess material that can be removed during machining. This excess material helps ensure accuracy and prevents damage to the finished product.
  • Parts that include protruding features (such as tabs, bosses, or standoffs) should be designed with sufficient thickness so that they do not break off during machining. Thin features can easily snap off during machining and lead to inaccurate finished products.
  • Parts that include recessed features (such as countersinks or recesses) should be designed with sufficient depth so that they are not damaged during machining operations. Deeper recesses are less likely to be damaged than shallow ones during machining operations.

3. Using the right design software for CNC machined parts

Once you have designed your part, it’s time to create a digital file of it. The best way to do this is to use the right software for the job. If you are not familiar with any specific software, there are a few programs that are commonly used for CNC machining. These include

– AutoCAD

– Inventor

– SolidWorks

– MasterCam

There is no one-size-fits-all software when it comes to preparing files for submission to a shop. Some programs are better for vector graphics, while others are more suitable for print projects. Make sure to consult with your printer or shop about the best software to use for your specific project.

4. Fabricating your design with a CNC machine shop

Once your design files are ready, it’s time to send them off for fabrication. Using an experienced CNC machine shop is the best way to ensure that your parts are made to the highest quality standards. Using a 3D CAD file of the part you want to have fabricated,  the shop will be able to create a toolpath for your part and then machine it using a CNC mill or router.

Following these tips will help you design CNC machined parts that are perfect for CNC machining. If you keep the process in mind, you’ll be able to create parts that are both accurate and efficient.

Toolcraft has become a trusted resource for our customers. We’re dedicated to quality and ensuring that our customer’s expectations are always met or exceeded. Our comprehensive quality management system is something that we are continually improving. We’re also dedicated to compliance with all requirements of the ISO 9001 standard, which sets internationally recognized quality management requirements.
The next time your project requires precision CNC machining, choose  Toolcraft Machining as your manufacturing partner so that your design is made to your specifications and on time the first time. Visit toolcraft.com for more information and to request your custom quote.