5 Common Materials in CNC Machining and How to Choose The Right One

5 Common Materials in CNC Machining and How to Choose The Right One



Common materials in cnc Machining

CNC machining is the best method to transform your creative ideas into precise working models. However, how to choose the suitable CNC machining material to take full advantage of this process is not an easy question for beginners.

Choosing the right material Common materials in cnc Machining can help your product exceed expectations. The use of CNC machining technology brings high flexibility to production processes.

You are not limited to a small number of options, because there are many different types of CNC machining materials. However, the exact material that is right for each project can depend on a variety of factors

Common materials in cnc Machining

To help you choose the correct machining material for your project, this article TDB Tec will provide the necessary information. Hopefully, you will be able to make the best CNC machined product without any difficulty.

5 Key Factors to Select the Best Material for Your Project

Deciding which CNC machining material is right for your project will depend on many different factors. However, after carefully considering these factors, TDB Tech recommends 5 typical factors so that you can easily choose the right material to use.

Key Factors Choose CNC materials
5 Key Factors for Choosing The Right CNC machining materials
  • Machining Purpose

To choose the right CNC metalworking material, the most important thing is to determine the intended use of the product. For example, if you are manufacturing toys, metal materials cannot be used. Conversely, if you are making components that involve insulation, you need to limit the use of low-conductivity parts.

Choosing the wrong kind of material sometimes would compromise a part’s longevity. FDA, FAA, as well as any industry-specific regulations, should also be a priority.

  • Environment

The environment of the material needs to take into account in the selection process, environmental factors can include heat and cold resistance, flame retardant, extreme weather conditions such as UV rays, rain, and chemical tolerance. Since there are diverse applications, materials may have to be a medical grade or food grade.

The material must handle the needed operating temperature as well as other expected thermal changes. Many materials expand due to temperature variations. For example, some plastic materials can deal with typical operating temperatures, but break down or twist when temperatures change too frequently.

  • Required Strength

Strength can be measured in many ways decided by structural engineers depending on the type of design, including tensile strength, wear resistance, corrosion resistance, chemical resistance,..etc. Therefore, choosing the right materials to meet the requirements for the desired part is an integral step for successful projects.

Choosing the right degree of tensile strength is the first step to making sure your part will not fail or break under tension or stretching forces. A robust manufacturing process is vital so that the part will last for its intended lifespan. Thus, evaluate the strength and durability requirements of each part and choose optimal materials that meet those characteristics.

  • Project Budget

Material costs normally are an important factor that will typically decide which kind of material can be used, they almost always influence material selection. Most product teams want to find a material that maximizes in-demand material properties and performance while minimizing expenditure.

Material costs are particularly important in terms of CNC machining since this process leads to a moderately large amount of scrap material behind. Some kinds of materials are extremely expensive since they could have a major impact on the cost-efficiency of the entire project, including scrap material output, and specialty metals, for example.

5 common CNC machining materials

Over the years, our TDB Tec experts have identified selected materials that were born for machining processes, therefore, they became popular choices among our customers. In TDB Tec, we have more than 40 different grades of plastic and metal materials available.

CNC metal
5 common CNC machining materials

Let’s dive into some significant characteristics of the 5 most popular machining materials!

  • Metal

Metal is known for being the most commonly used material in CNC machining. CNC machines were designed with the ability to cut through any type of metal, including brass, nickel, and superalloys (such as Inconel). Metal proved its qualities as high strength, toughness, and corrosion resistance.

For metals, the top candidate is aluminum, followed by brass, copper, and steel (normal and stainless steel).

CNC metal
5 common CNC machining materials 1

However, while metal parts provide the best precision and effectively cover a wide range of applications, from injection molds to shafts and gears; there is a fact that producing metal parts normally comes at a high cost and with vulnerabilities such as corrosion in humidity.

  • Plastic

Although metals own good physical properties, they are usually too expensive to mass-produce parts. For large-volume production, plastics are more low-cost. Many plastic resin compounds offer sufficient strength and other physical properties as much as metals showed.

In terms of plastics, polyether was favored by designers. Other typical materials can include ketone (PEEK), ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), nylon, Acetal, polycarbonate, PVC, high- and low-density polyethylene, etc… CNC machining can be used to produce certain plastic components.

These materials are stiff, strong, impact-resistant, and chemical-resistant, but surprisingly elastic. Nylon, for example, is often used as an alternative to metal in CNC-manufactured parts because of responding perfectly to additives and fillers. Therefore, engineers can easy to manipulate and construct nylon productions.

  • Ceramic

Ceramics are aesthetically beautiful, and their physical properties are second to none. Ceramics have good insulators, which can against heat and electricity and own high compressive endurance.

Applications for ceramic CNC machining can be named as insulator elements, decor pieces like fountains, jewelry pieces, electrical component housing, glass replacement, aerospace applications like radar and antenna, aircraft industry parts, sports, and wind turbine blades.

  • Composites

Composites are familiar materials for processing parts in CNC machines.

When it comes to composites, they can include anything from foam, tooling board, aramid to fiberglass to carbon fiber. These materials are extremely abrasive to cutting tools. Aerospace and marine composite components are machined to add fastener holes and for general trimming after the molding process.

Composites CNC
5 common CNC machining materials 3

Composites, such as FRP, have become common nowadays for their exceptional mechanical properties, ability to withstand pinpoint surface loads, tensile strength, and many other factors. They are the best materials if the job requires a robust, durable, low-cost solution.

It’s clear to see that CNC machining is an extremely versatile manufacturing process that requires a thorough evaluation of project requirements in order to select a material best suited for the part in question. Still, achieving the ideal balance of cost, quality, and time can be challenging.

With a trusted on-demand manufacturing partner like TDB Tec, material selection is made easy. In TDB, our experts have years of experience guiding product teams through the entire product development and production process. Please take a look at our CNC turning services page to learn more about how we can help you.

Tips for Optimizing Material Selection for CNC Machining

In most cases, the more choices you have, the better your chances of getting exactly what you are looking for. Although that means finding a perfect fit for what you need gets more complicated.

Tips for Optimizing CNC Material
Tips for Optimizing Material Selection for CNC Machining

When it comes to product design and development, specifically, when your design is custom, here are some ways you can use to narrow the universe of material options, simplify your scan, and get the best possible end result:

  • Determine needed requirements for your part’s function
  • Identify common materials used for machined parts
  • Consider related secondary processes
  • Use prototypes

Besides, you should pay attention to choosing the right material grades. Many materials come in different grades.


This article presented some most common materials in CNC machining, explained what it is, and discussed how it use, especially in manufacturing.

While materials with high hardness and strength may seem like the ideal choice for various applications, they are often difficult to process in CNC machining. Machining these materials requires more time and causes more wear on the cutting tool. So, if you are looking for fast manufacturing and optimized maintenance, using a material with good machinability is a better choice. TDB Tec provides a wide range of manufacturing capabilities, including CNC machining and other value-added services for all of your prototyping and production needs.

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