When to CNC Machine Your 3D Printed Parts
One of the most popular low-volume production ᴍᴇᴛʜods is computerized numerical control (CNC) machining, which has been used since the early 1950s. To make a part, a tool grinds away material along a path specified by a computer from a huge block of raw material. In a range of plastic and metal materials, these programmed tool paths may cut extremely exact and reproducible geometries.

The production of low-volume, end-use items using CNC machining is customary, but it has also been embraced as an additional technique for additive manufacturing. For the following reasons, businesses frequently 3D print plastic or metal components before CNC milling them:
Dimensional precision – Businesses that produce goods for the automotive, medical, and consumer goods industries, among others, must adhere to repeatable, exact specifications. The majority of additive manufacturing technologies, including Direct Metal Laser Sintering and Fused Deposition Modeling, can include features. You may get a tolerance of 0.002 inches using CNC machining. Which can significantly affect your ability to produce assembly aids, manufacturing fixtures, or any other in-process tools with long service lives.

Speed – Speed is the second factor that prompts businesses to integrate these two technologies. Even after factoring in print time, CAD/CAM setup, and machining, the procedure is still far quicker than creating an injection molding tool from scratch. Additionally, engineers have more time to make design modifications thanks to 3D printing and machining. It only requires updating CAD/CAM files, printing, and machining a new part, as opposed to changing an injection molding tool, which may be extremely difficult and expensive and lead to significant production delays.

Because it can move in the X, Y, and Z planes, horizontal or vertical 3-axis milling is the most popular machining ᴍᴇᴛʜod for additively made plastic parts. We advise using 5-axis milling, which can rotate and tilt on the A and B axes to access undercuts and microsᴄᴏᴘic features, for more intricate features and geometries.

Since direct metal laser sintering parts are frequently created for demanding applications, multi-axis milling is virtually usually used to machine them to achieve accurate surface dimensions. Companies use a micro-machining technique to produce mirror-like surfaces on high-value manufacturing metal products by combining a chemical reaction with a fluid flow removal procedure. Rubber gaskets frequently require this polished surface finish to produce a tight seal. You must modify the 3D CAD data for your part if your application calls for particular dimensions. When creating your design files, keep the following in mind:

Build excess material – The raw 3D-printed object needs extra material added to it so that when it is machined, there are enough layers for the tool to remove to meet the specifications.

Note areas of tight tolerance – Make sure to show the service bureau project engineer the important dimensions that will need to be machined while talking with them. They frequently suggest design modifications to improve the build for machining, such as boosting tip size or raising particular wall thicknesses.

Make critical features accessible – Put the parts that need to be precisely machined in an area that is easy to access. Move application-critical features to a tool-accessible location if at all possible since some 3D printed geometries are inaccessible to even 5-axis mills.

Let’s see 3D printing an Insane steel part make on a CNC machine in the video below.

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Video resource: TITANS of CNC MACHINING