Optimizing machine part design for CNC production

design for CNC production

It’s time to roll out a new product.  Your engineers are working on the details of the design now, laying out every dimension on every part and specifying every component. They are designing your product to do what you need and have all the features you want.  Having engineers on staff is a tremendous cost-saving, but when the designs get sent over for CNC production, those engineers have a job to do as well.  While your engineers design the product, the CNC machining engineers design it for production.  That’s a real distinction.  Your engineers can take steps to cut down on the work the CNC engineers have to do, saving you both time and money.

Thin Walls

Ben Machine specializes in thin-wall machining.  We can precisely machine walls thinner than many shops while avoiding deflection or heat-softening during the CNC machining process.  Your engineers should check with us when designing wall thicknesses, whether in raw metal or on castings.  You may find significant materials cost savings if your castings can be made with less metal.  Those thin walls can present other problems, like screw-holding.  You may have to design bosses to reinforce tapped screw holes to prevent tear-out.  It’s advisable to plan for at least three full threads on any tapped hole.  That becomes especially important in high-tension or high-vibration applications.

Deep Pockets

If you have parts with hollows or pockets, mind the depths in relation to the widths.  CNC Machining a pocket that’s more than four times as deep as it is wide calls for special considerations.  Machining slows down and surface finish becomes problematic.  While we do it, those features do drive up costs simply because they slow down production.

Speaking of hollows and pockets, give some consideration to the corner radii.  The larger the radius of the corners in a recess, the larger the tool that can be used to cut it, so the faster the process.  If a large hollow has very tight corners, it often requires additional milling steps to finish those to specifications, raising costs.  Maintaining the same inside radius on walls and the bottom corner of a recess also speeds up the CNC machining process.

A Fine Finish

In general, the smaller the feature, the more it will slow down CNC production.  It’s a good idea to keep those to a minimum.  That extends to things like serial numbers, logos, or other information you might want to be engraved or embossed on a part.  While we can cut very small print, you’ll save money by keeping text a good, readable size and a simple san serif font.  This also extends to surface finishes on CNC machined parts.  Consider the quality of finish a given face requires and specify that.  If you save time on the front end by specifying one high surface finish for the entire part, you’ll likely find yourself spending money on machining that won’t bring any benefit to your finished product.

There are other engineering considerations that can save you money if you work closely with our engineers.  Optimizing your part for production is crucial for an efficient, cost-effective job.  That’s where our CNC professionals come in.  They can make sure that the parts you need and the features you want match the budget you have.


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