The Bantam Tools™ Desktop PCB Milling Machine can cut a wide variety of materials. Some work great all the time, some work great if you know what you’re doing, and some don’t work at all. Here are some guidelines, with links to articles that go into greater depth about how to mill the material along with suggested feeds and speeds.
Materials that work great:
- FR-1 Printed Circuit Board Blanks
- Machining Wax
- Machinable Foam
- Brass (for engraving)
- Aluminum (for engraving)
- Silver (for engraving)
Materials that work great if you know what you’re doing:
- FR-4 can be milled safely if using the the Bantam Tools FR-4 Milling System.
- Hard plastics, like Delrin and HDPE
- Hardwood (such as mahogany)
- Soft stone (such as soapstone)
- Leather (for engraving)
Do not mill these materials:
- Steel, stainless or otherwise — will dull/melt the cutting tool.
- Iron — will dull/melt the cutting tool.
- Magnesium — chips can ignite and are difficult to extinguish.
- Titanium — will dull/melt the cutting tool.
- Fiberglass, including FR-4 circuit boards — makes unhealthy dust. FR-4 should not be milled unless using the Bantam Tools FR-4 Milling System.
- Hard stone and precious gems — will dull/melt the cutting tool and create dangerous dust.
- Glass — will shatter, creating dangerous shrapnel.
- Silver chloride or other powdery materials — very crumbly, doesn’t hold its shape.
- Chocolate, cheese, or other food products — The milling machine is not food safe. Besides, these things are better eaten.
Material Tips and Tricks
- If you’re cutting hard materials, shallower cuts will improve the longevity of your cutting tool.
- If you’re cutting a small, deep hole, make sure that the flutes on your tool are at least as deep as the hole. Otherwise, material will fail to eject, gumming up the cutting tool. This can damage or break the tool.
- To improve milling times on jobs with large areas to clear, use a larger tool in addition to a smaller tool. For example, to mill a circuit board faster, it depends on your design, but typically it's best to use a use a 0.005” PCB Engraving Bit and a 1/32" Flat End Mill. The Engraving Bit will isolate the traces and pads. The flat end mill will mill the holes and cut out the board outline.
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