6 Ways to Cut Machining Costs

The left image illustrates resulting corner radii from milling. Consider adding reliefs to sharp corners (right image) to improve fit.

Machining gets a bit more complex every year, and as a result, it can be challenging to keep pace with the do’s and don’ts of part design. But lowering the cost of machined parts while improving functionality can still be achieved by a few relatively simple adjustments to your part design or material selection.

Small tool diameters add machining time so consider removing text or logos from machined prototypes.

This month’s tip discusses:

  • Machining corner holes
  • Deburring edges
  • Avoiding unnecessary text
  • Keeping an eye on thin features
  • Reducing part complexity
  • Selecting material alternatives

READ FULL DESIGN TIP.

TIPS WITH TONY: Prototyping with Soft Metals

Soft metals — aluminum, magnesium, brass, copper — are available in different grades at Proto Labs depending on the 3D printing, CNC machining and injection molding service chosen. Quantities range from 1 to 5,000+ parts in 1 to 15 business days.

Aluminum engine bracket 3D printed through DMLS.

Aluminum
At Proto Labs, we use the industrial 3D printing process of direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) to build parts from soft (and hard) materials like aluminum.

DMLS-built aluminum provides parts with excellent strength-to-weight ratios, temperature and corrosion resistance, and provides good tensile, fatigue creep and rupture strength. With a tensile strength of 37.7 ksi (260 MPa) and a hardness of 47.2 HRB, for example, you are able to have parts produced in nearly any part geometry with features like internal channels or complex undercuts that can’t be manufactured through any other method. And, final parts are still up to 98% dense.

You can also get aluminum parts using CNC machining in 6061 and 7075 grades. 6061 can provide you with improved corrosion resistance and can be welded while 7075 provides you a part that has a higher tensile strength and is harder than 6061.

Do you need a prototype of an aluminum die-cast part? We can mimic aluminum die casting using our stereolithography (SL) process and SLArmor technology. SLArmor uses our DSM Somos (NanoTool) material, applying a nickel metal coating that gives the look and feel of metal without the added strength or weight.

 

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First Journal Issue of 2015

Journal issue 1, 2015

Moving a product through the duration of its life cycle involves many peaks, valleys and pivots. The trail can be difficult to navigate, but our various manufacturing technologies can guide you down the path. In our cover story, we show you how to leverage manufacturing at every stage of a product’s life.

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Design Tip: How to Get Well-Rounded Parts with Lathe

Our new turning technology can help you create cylindrical features.

The launch of CNC turning brings product designers and engineers a new set of machining capabilities for part production at Proto Labs. By adding turning centers to our three-access milling services, we’re able to better machine parts with cylindrical features. Turned parts have excellent surface finish and are typically more cost effective for customers.

Whether you’re developing a new camera lens housing, drive shaft or anything else cylindrical in nature, we may be able to assist. We currently offer parts made from aluminum, steel and stainless steel materials, but are working to expand our options with the impending release of brass and copper and the introduction of plastic later in 2015.

Read our full design tip on CNC turning to see if it’s right for your next project.