With additive manufacturing and 3D printers being such a hot topic these days, it's important to remember why subtractive processes like machining are still incredibly important to rapid prototyping. First, subtractive rapid prototyping provides the ability to prototype in end-use materials. Since milling or machining removes material from a larger piece of material, the finished part is comprised of a solid piece rather than in layers typical to additive rapid prototyping with 3D printers. This delivers a higher structural integrity which is critical if the prototype part is to be used in product or market testing. Subtractive rapid prototyping processes like milling also offer a wider range of surface finishes for the finish prototype as opposed to the standard "stepped finish" often achieved in additive rapid prototyping with a 3D printer. Subtractive rapid prototyping with a high speed CNC milling machine produces prototype parts with a repeatability suitable for end-use manufacture. Here are some DATRON high speed machining center features that benefit the subtractive rapid prototyping process:
- High Speed Spindles (up to 60,000 RPM) - The high spindle speed reduces the chip load which reduces the forces between the tool and the material. High-speed/low-force machining yields less heat, reduces tool deflection, and allows machining of thinner walled work pieces. This all results in cooler machining, superior surface quality and better accuracy.
- Spray-Mist Coolant System - The spray-mist coolant system minimizes the time consuming and expensive maintenance issues associated with flood-type coolant systems. It is a highly-effective method of cooling and can reduce or even eliminate degreasing and disposal costs.
- Probing / Surface Scanning - scans surface, recognizes irregular work-piece topography and compensates for it dynamically
- Automatic Tool Changer - up to 45 tool stations depending on machine model, includes tool-length and breakage detection
- Vacuum Table Workholding - vacuum tables from 12" x 18" up to 24" x 36" provide quick setup of sheet material
- Pneumatic Clamping Systems - pneumatic, shortstroke clamps that minimize setup times for redundant processes
- 5-Axis Capability - integrated trunnion-style rotary axis for multisided milling of aluminum (watch video)
LEARN MORE: View our Thermoforming Mold Making Showcase (at the bottom of the page) and download our Thermoforming Case Study (below):
Milling machines for subtractive rapid prototyping - While all DATRON machines can be utilized for rapid prototyping, here are a few specific models that you may want to look at: M8Cube, M10Pro and MLCube (see page bottom for reasons).
Do you have a rapid prototyping application?
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Subtractive Rapid Prototype Showcase (Sample Photos):