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Prototype CNC Milling Suppliers
If you are a designer and you are new to rapid prototyping and prototype manufacturing, it is a headache when it comes to material selcetion for your parts. Each material has different mechanical properties and Characteristics so it affects the function of the prototypes, eventually you will get different testing results from it. A precise test data from the prototypes is critical for product development and drives your decision on the final products to the marketplace.

Here at Next Proto we will guide you to select the appropriate material for your parts. As we have produced so many prototypes for customers overseas from various industries and communicate with thousands of mechanical engineers and designers, we know the intended use of it so that we can provide our best advice. For example, if you are going to make a part with a living hinge, and you are asking what the best material for just 1 off prototype out of plastic then our suggestion is PP material by CNC machining. If you need 20 pieces, then vacuum casting in UP5690 which is PP simulant would be our proposal. PP is a kind of plastic which is flexible and be able to bend dozens of times in certain of angles. We will also let you know what wall thickness it should be for living hinge so that it can perform well for your prototypes. There are many different kinds of plastic and metal materials for CNC milling and turning available here, the most commonly used materials are aluminum 6061, 6082, aluminum 7075, stainless steel 304, 316, 303, 17-4 PH, 4140 steel, mild steel, brass, copper, POM (Delrin), Acrylic (PMMA), PC, ABS, modeling board, Nylon, ULTEM (PEI), and PEEK. Aluminum 6061 T6 grade is good for CNC machining and can be applied for anodizing in gold, black, red, blue, green colors. Aluminum 7075 T6 is usually used for areospace, robotics and climbing safety industries. It is harder than aluminum 6061 but aluminum 6061 looks better after anodized.

ABS is used in many applications for functional prototypes, concept models as it is stiff and easy to machine. Today most of the models made in ABS can replace the 3D Printed prototypes as they have the real ABS properties and often performs better. We can easily section the ABS part and glue the pieces together to form a large volume prototype. The strength would be almost the same as a single piece. We can sand smooth the surface up to 1500 grits ready for painting. Stainless steel 304 takes longer time for machining as it is much harder than aluminum alloys. Our CNC machining centers are all well maintained and good at milling stainless steel prototypes. We also offer high polished stainless steel prototypes which will be the realistic surface finish as a family use spoon! For the metal profile prototypes, we can use EDM wire cutting process to cut the profile first and then CNC machine the specific features. For the undercuts, we can use EDM spark erosion process to achieve it. All the electrode used for EDM process are made from copper by CNC machines and inspected thoroughly.

PMMA, also called acrylic, is used for lenses prototypes. We can have very thick, good quality acrylic block available in China today, which benifits automobile clear lenses prototyping. Our model makers specialise in polishing PMMA parts according to the highest standard. All the polished PMMA parts are crystal clear (transparent) including the glued areas without bubbles, as some of the lenses have very complex undercuts around the edges which need to be sectioned for CNC milling. PMMA polished surfaces can be easily demaged by abrasion, so we would make a wooden box for packaging to make sure they arreive at your place in good condition. Nowadays, the lenses are becoming more and more complicated than ever before and we are ready to accept all challenges. PC (polycarbonate) can be vapor polished and achieve transparency. Its toughness is higher than PMMA but its transparency is a bit weaker. In some case, it can be used for lenses if you require toughness more, but to be honest PMMA looks nicer. ULTEM (PEI) and PEEK are very expensive materials and can resist high temperatures. They can be used for special applications if required. We have experience to machine PEEK for medical industry application.