Definitive Guide to CNC Machining
Take an in-depth look at CNC machining, from milling to turning and prototyping to production.
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Looking for a reliable, quick-turn supplier of machined plastic and metal components? With hundreds of CNC machines, the unmatched capacity of our in-house digital factories ensure your parts are shipped on-time, every single time. At TDB, our TS19649-certified CNC machining facilities are designed for both rapid prototyping and low-volume production of end-use components. But through our digital network of manufacturers at Hubs, you can unlock advanced machining capabilities like tighter tolerances, volume pricing, and anodizing. We’re your single supplier of machined parts with manufacturing tailored to your project needs.
Get anodizing, tighter tolerances, and volume pricing options through our network of manufacturing partners powered by Hubs. You’ll find plating (black oxide, nickel), anodizing (Type II, Type III), and chromate coating at scale; tolerances down to ±0.0008 in. (0.020mm); and cost-efficient machined parts at higher volume.Try Digital Network at Hubs Learn More
CNC milling is a subtractive manufacturing process that uses 3-axis milling and 5-axis indexed milling processes to cut solid plastic and metal blocks into final parts.
CNC turning with live tooling combines both lathe and mill capabilities to machine parts with cylindrical features from metal rod stock.
We offer a range of capabilities through our in-house digital factories at Protolabs along with our digital network of manufacturers at Hubs. If speed is essential, our factory capabilities have you covered, but if you’re in need of advanced capabilities and have more flexibility in your schedule, try our network.
|Factory Capabilities||Network Capabilities|
|Maximum Part Size||22 in. x 14 in. x 3.75 in. (559mm x 356mm x 95.3mm)||25.5 in. x 25.5 in. x 11.8 in. (650mm x 650mm x 300mm)|
|Minimum Part Size||0.25 in. x 0.25 in (6.35mm x 6.35mm)||0.019 in. (0.50mm)|
|Tolerances||+/- 0.005 in. (+/- 0.13mm)||+/-0.001 in. (0.020mm)|
|Radii||Sharp inside corners on a part will be radiused (rounded) as a natural result of the CNC machining process.|
|Text||Plastic and soft metals: Minimum width of 0.018 in. (0.457mm), depth of 0.0118 in. (0.3mm). Example text size would be 16 point Arial Rounded MT font.
Hard metals: Minimum width of 0.033 in. (0.838mm) and depth of 0.0118 in. (0.3mm). Example text size would be 22 point Arial Rounded MT font.
|Factory Capabilities||Network Capabilities|
|Maximum Dimensions||Diameter||3.95 in. (100.33mm)||17 in. (431mm)|
|Length||9 in. (228.6mm)||39 in. (990mm)|
|Minimum Dimensions||Diameter||0.16 in. (4.07mm)||0.039 in. (1mm)|
|Length||0.05 in. (1.27mm)||0.019 in. (0.5mm)|
|Wall Thickness||0.020 in. (0.51mm)||0.019 in. (0.5mm)|
|Tolerances||+/- 0.005 in. (+/- 0.13mm)||±0.001 in. (0.020mm)|
Our lead time options lend you flexibility. Need machined parts lightning fast? Select Expedite at checkout. Not in a rush? Choose Economy to save on cost. For reliable delivery on-time, select Standard. Your parts when you need them.Start a project
Fast and Reliably Delivery
Iterate part designs quickly and accelerate product development with quick-turn parts. Our automated design analysis will help spot any difficult to machine features before your design is sent to the manufacturing floor and save you from costly reworks further down the product development cycle.
Manufacturing Analysis and Online Quotes
When you upload your 3D CAD file to request a quote, we’ll analyze your part geometry to identify any features that may be difficult to machine such as tall, thin walls or holes that cannot be threaded.
Domestic Production and Support
Work with a trusted U.S.-based manufacturer and eliminate the risk of sending parts overseas. You can also call or email us at any time and we’ll help with ordering parts, design feedback, material recommendations, and answer any questions.
Eliminate downtime spent waiting for parts and safeguard in-house machining with on-demand relief and infinite manufacturing capacity.
We stock more than 30 engineering-grade plastic and metal materials that are suitable for various part applications and industries. Materials range from plastics like ABS, polycarbonate, nylon, and PEEK to aluminum, stainless steel, platinum, and copper.
Get anodizing, tighter tolerances, and volume pricing options through our network of manufacturers at Hubs. You’ll find plating (black oxide, nickel), anodizing (Type II, Type III), and chromate coating in larger part quantities; tolerances down to ±0.001 in. (0.020mm); and cost-efficient machined parts at higher volumes to lower piece-part price.
The subtractive process of CNC machining provides multiple benefits for both prototyping and production parts.
CNC machining is widely used throughout the aerospace, medical, automotive industries for its ability to rapidly manufacture precise parts in production-grade materials. Typical CNC parts, include:
Take a quick tour through our 215,000 sq. ft. CNC machining facility in Minnesota to see how we manufacture parts in as fast as 24 hours.
Prices start around $65, but vary based on complexity, quantity and lead time. The best way to find out is to submit a 3D CAD model and get an interactive quote with design for manufacturability (DFM) feedback. Because we use proprietary software and automated fixturing processes, there are no up front non-recurring engineering (NRE) costs. This makes purchasing quantities as low as 1 to 200 parts cost effective. Prices compared to 3D printing are comparable to somewhat higher, but machining offers improved material properties and surfaces.
We offer UNF, UNC, and metric threads for machining along with coil and key inserts (but do not supply or install the inserts). These are available on both milled or turned CNC parts. View this page to see our complete threading options.
Maximum part size will vary based on your selected material. Our largest part size offered is 22 in. x 14 in. x 3.75 in. (559mm x 356mm x 95.25mm) and is available in Aluminum 6061 and 7075. View this table to see maximum dimensions by material.
We have a variety of resources on CNC machining and how to design parts for the process. Here are some of our favorites:
Product designers and engineers choose CNC machining to rapidly produce prototypes and production parts. The manufacturing technology offers a high level of precision, engineering-grade materials, quick-turn lead times.
Our global network of premium manufacturing partners powered by Hubs offers expanded capabilities, tighter tolerances, volume pricing, and the ability to handle more complex parts. You can visit hubs.com and click on the ‘Capabilities’ tab in the navigation bar at the top of the page for the full list of capabilities available through Hubs.