Syracuse Architecture logo Syracuse Architecture Technology

CNC Mill

The school acquired a Roland MDX-540 CNC mill in August of 2007. The machine is a 3-axis mill that creates models out of dense foam or wood. Models are cut with a top down view. The mill uses either a 1/8” or 1/4” drill bit for removal of material.

Maximum Material Size
X (length): 17 in
Y (width): 13 in
Z (height): 2 in

The material size must be at least 1" greater than your model size (length and width). For height it must be 1/4" greater.

For example, if your model X-Y is 10” x 5” then your material size must be at least 11” x 6”.

Time to Mill
Models take from 1-36 hours to create, depending on the complexity and size of the model, the type of material being milled, and the type of finish requested. Only one mill bo can run at a time; therefore, students should plan to queue their files several days in advance of deadlines. During peak times, the wait can be more than a week.

The cost to mill a model is based on time. The charge is $0.10 per minute or $6.00 per hour. Fees are deducted from your Architecture lab printing account prior to milling. If there are insufficient funds in your account, the model will not be milled. If you would like to know the cost prior to milling, be sure to check the appropriate box on the CNC Mill Job Submission Form and we will contact you.

Approved Materials
- wood (no plywood)
- MDC (1/4" bit only; results may be sub-optimal)
- yellow dense foam (available at bookstore and the Industrial Design Shop in Smith Hall)
- blue, green or pink building foam (1/4" bit only, otherwise material gums up the bit)
- plexiglass (at least 1/4" thick)

Unacceptable Materials
- no wood that has been glued together, unless factory-glued such as plywood.

Tips for Faster Milling
- Use dense foam instead of wood. A ten hour cut with wood could take only two hours with foam.
- Allow a little more than 1/4” wherever the tool needs to remove material (that way using the 1/4” tool will not impact your model).
- Keep your model dimensions as small as possible.

How to Submit Files for Milling
- The CNC mill can work with horizontal or sloping surfaces. However it is recommended all vertical surfaces be at least 1/8” in width. Models are created in 3D programs such as Rhino and must be saved in the STL format.

- Copy your STL file into the 'Drop Box - CNC Mill' folder, which is found on the Drop Box / K drive on the lab computers. Make sure the filename includes your NetID (i.e. jrsmith-myfile-01.stl)

- If you have several models to mill, put each model in its own STL file. We won't accept an STL file with multiple models or parts, UNLESS all the parts are being milled out of the same piece of material.

- Print and fill out the CNC mill job submission form (download here). Turn in the form in one of the following ways: Slide it under the door of Room 001 (Chuck and Andy’s office), OR scan the completed form, save it as a PDF, and copy it to the CNC Mill Drop Box folder (make sure the filename includes your NetID).

- You can then leave the material with Chuck or Andy in Room 001, or with Gary in Room 011.

We will contact you via email when your model is ready for pickup.

- Models may require additional sanding or cleaning for optimal results.

- The school is not responsible for failed jobs, material damaged by the machine, jobs not finished before your deadline, or models left in the room after they have finished.

- The mill is available for use by Architecture students and faculty on a first come first serve basis, but with preference given to digital fabrication classes. ONLY work related to architecture courses will be cut--no personal, non-architecture material.

Refund Process
Refunds for the mill time cost will be granted only if the mill malfunctions or the model is accidentally broken by an operator. Material costs are not reimbursed under any circumstance.


(images courtesy of Roland ASD)
Syracuse University, School of Architecture, 201 Slocum Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244