Machining Lab

A CAPLA student using a drill press in the materials lab at the college of architecture, planning and landscape architecture at the university of arizona

Location: A107A

The machining lab has a 14” LeBlond lathe, Bridgeport Knee Mill, The vacuum forming tool is also located here and the wash out bath for the Dimension 3D prints.

Safety and Access

All students using the machining tools must first complete the machining class. Currently the class is offered at the AME school lab.  Wear appropriate clothing, roll up loose sleeves, remove jewelry, and tie back long hair. All of these can get caught in the spinning tools. Safety glasses must be worn, prescription glasses do not count. Only wear sturdy closed toe shoes while in the lab. No Slippers, No flip flops, No open toe shoes. No work is possible inside the labs after midnight, a silent alarm will be activated and you will lose your lab access. Always disconnect power and lock off the tool when making repairs. Any tool that is out of order should be reported to monitor. All injuries should be reported to the monitor.

  • Safety is the responsibility of everyone in the lab.
  • Proper eye protection should be worn at all times.
  • Do not attempt to operate any machine before understanding how it works and how to stop it quickly is something unexpected happens.
  • Make sure all guards and safety devices are in place.
  • Check to be sure that the work-piece and cutting tool are properly secured before operating the machine.
  • Use a proper fitting wrench for each job.
  • Pulling a wrench is much safer then pushing it.
  • Never start a machine until you are certain that the work-piece will clear the cutting tool and machine parts.
  • Keep hand away from moving parts.
  • Never measure, clean, or make adjustments unless the machine has come to a complete stop.
  • Do not use rags.
  • Only one person should operate a machine at any one time.
  • Every injury should be treated immediately.
  • Always remove sharp burrs from work-pieces with a file before handling.
  • Always use a brush or vacuum to remove any chips; never use a cloth or your hand.
  • Never leave head key in the lathe head.
  • Always clean machine after use and put tools away.
  • Never use compressed air to blow chips away from a machine.
  • Always disconnect power and lock off the tool when making repairs.
  • Any tool that is out of order should be reported to monitor.

Bridgeport Mill with DRO

Vertical turret mill
Milling is the complex shaping of metal or other materials by removing material to form the final shape. It is generally done on a milling machine, a power-driven machine that in its basic form consists of a milling cutter that rotates about the spindle axis (like a drill), and a worktable that can move in multiple directions (usually two dimensions [x and y axis] relative to the work-piece. The spindle usually moves in the z axis. It is possible to raise the table (where the work-piece rests). This Milling machine is operated manually and can perform a vast number of complex operations, such as slot cutting, planing, drilling and threading, rabbeting, routing, etc. Milling cutters are held in the spindle and rotate on its axis. The spindle can generally be extended (or the table can be raised/lowered, giving the same effect), allowing plunge cuts and drilling.

We have a turret mill which has a stationary spindle and the table is moved both perpendicular and parallel to the spindle axis to accomplish cutting. The most common example of this type is the Bridgeport. This turret mill has a quill which allows the milling cutter to be raised and lowered in a manner similar to a drill press. This machine provides two methods of cutting in the vertical (Z) direction: by raising or lowering the quill, and by moving the knee.

LeBlond Lathe

Turning is a metal cutting process for producing a cylindrical surface with a single point tool. The work piece is rotated on a spindle and the cutting tool is fed into it radially, axially or both. Producing surfaces perpendicular to the work piece axis is called facing. Producing surfaces using both radial and axial feeds is called profiling.

A lathe is a machine tool which spins a block or cylinder of material so that when abrasive, cutting, or deformation tools are applied to the work piece, it can be shaped to produce an object which has rotational symmetry about an axis of rotation. Examples of objects that can be produced on a lathe include candlestick holders, table legs, bowls, baseball bats, crankshafts, camshafts, and bearing mounts.
Lathes have three main components: the headstock, the carriage, and the tailstock. The headstock's spindle secures the work piece with a chuck, whose jaws (usually three or four) are tightened around the piece. The spindle rotates at high speed, providing the energy to cut the material. The work piece extends out of the spindle along the axis of rotation above the flat bed. The carriage is a platform that can be moved, precisely and independently, horizontally parallel and perpendicular to the axis of rotation. A hardened cutting tool is held at the desired height (usually the middle of the work piece) by the tool post. The carriage is then moved around the rotating work piece, and the cutting tool gradually shaves material from the work piece. The tailstock can be slid along the axis of rotation and then locked in place as necessary. It may hold centers to further secure the work piece, or cutting tools driven into the end of the work piece.
Other operations that can be performed with a single point tool on a lathe are:

  • Chamfering: Cutting an angle on the comer of a cylinder.
  • Parting: The tool is fed radially into the work piece to cut off the end of a part.
  • Threading: A tool is fed along and across the outside or inside surface of rotating parts to produce external or internal threads.
  • Boring: A single-point tool is fed linearly and parallel to the axis of rotation.
  • Drilling: Feeding the drill into the work piece axially.
  • Knurling: Produces a regular cross-hatched pattern in work surfaces intended to be gripped by hand.

MAXNC 10 Mill

Multiaxis machining is a manufacturing process, where computer numerically controlled tools move and are used to manufacture parts out of metal or other materials by milling away excess material. There is a 4th axis with a 4” build window attached. Maxnc can be used to cut aluminum, foam, plastic and wood. It has a build window of 8”x6”y4”z.

Vacuum Former

The Formech Vacuum Former- Forming Area dimensions- 19"x17" with a 10" draw. Cut your sheet size to at least 20" x  18". The vacuum former can be used to thermoform thin sheets of plastic up to ¼" (ABS, PETG, Acrylic etc.) over a form (the mold). The sheets are heated up until they are soft. Next, the soft sheet is moved over a perforated plate onto which the mold is fixed. The mold then is raised into the plastic and vacuum draws the sheet tight around the mold. Once the sheet cools the vacuum is turned off, the mold is lowered and the sheet can be removed from the machine. Bear in mind that molds cannot contain any undercuts! Also, slightly tapering the mold (draft 3-5%) to facilitate the removal is recommended. Check tutorial for more info.

This machine is located in the rear area of the Machining lab. It can only be used during regular lab hours. You must be checked out with a monitor before using on your own. Vacuum forming, is a simplified version of thermoforming, whereby a sheet of plastic is heated to a forming temperature, stretched onto or into a single-surface mold, and held against the mold by applying vacuum between the mold surface and the sheet. The vacuum forming process can be used to make most product packaging, speaker casings and even car dashboards. Normally, draft angles must be present in the design on the mold (a recommended minimum of 3°), otherwise release of the formed plastic and the mold is very difficult.
Relatively deep parts can be formed if the form-able sheet is mechanically stretched (buck) prior to bringing it in contact with the mold surface and before vacuum is applied. Suitable materials for use in vacuum forming are conventionally thermoplastics, the most common and easiest being High Impact Polystyrene Sheeting (HIPS).

Material Selection Guide