Do you know how to choose the right CNC machining material?
CNC is a computer controlled fabrication technique and about 30 years older than 3D printing. Fast, accurate, and versatile, it belongs in the advanced maker’s toolkit.
CNC machining material #1: Baltic Birch Plywood—Baltic birch plywood is great for CNC: It’s consistent, void-free, stable cabinet-grade plywood. It also has an attractive exposed edge. For more, see all about Baltic birch plywood.
CNC machining material#2: Polycarbonate—Polycarbonate, also known as Lexan or Makrolon, is a strong, impact-resistant engineering-grade plastic that mates very well with CNC. Thicker material does get very pricey. If you can work with 1/4″ clear sheet, this is a versatile material that is a pleasure to cut.
CNC machining material #3: Aluminum—Aluminum is what they used to make airplanes of (until carbon fiber came along). Aluminum has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, and is much stiffer than plastic. Working with aluminum has its challenges but opens the door to strong, high-tech parts coming right off your CNC machine.
CNC machining material#4: UHMW—Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMW) is like a poor man’s Teflon. Apart from having the same ultra-low coefficient of friction, UHMW is TOUGH. UHMW has a good bit of flex, so it isn’t a precision material. But if you need a bulky, slick, indestructible part with no moisture absorption, this is a good material to try.
CNC machining material#5: Acetal—Alternatively known as POM or Delrin, acetal is a terrific engineering-grade material with very similar properties to nylon. It absorbs no water and cuts like butter.