The school has two CNC mills that create models out of dense foam or wood: a Roland MDX-540 3-axis CNC and a Techno CNC Systems HD II. Models are cut with a top down view. The mill uses 1/8” or 1/4” drill bits for removal of material.
Maximum Material Size - Roland CNC
X (length): 17 in
Y (width): 13 in
Z (height): 2 in
Maximum Material Size - Techno CNC
X (length): 96 in
Y (width): 48 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 job can be 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.
- Wood (plywood is problematic; check with us first)
- MDF (1/4” bit only; results may be sub-optimal)
- Yellow dense foam (available at bookstore and the Industrial Design Shop in the Nancy Canter Warehouse)
- Blue, green or pink building foam (1/4” bit only, otherwise material gums up the bit)
- Plexiglass (at least 1/4” thick)
- No wood that has been glued together, unless factory-glued such as plywood.
Tips for Faster Milling
- Use dense foam instead of wood. A 10 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 mills can work with horizontal or sloping surfaces. However, it is recommended all vertical surfaces be at least 1/8” in width. Submit only STL files (for example, no Rhino 3dm files).
- Copy your STL file into the ‘Drop Box - CNC Mill’ folder, which is found inside the Student Drop folder on the G 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 file. We won’t accept an file with multiple models or parts, UNLESS all the parts are being milled out of the same piece of material.
- Fill out online CNC Mill Job Submission Form.
- You can then leave the material with Michael in Room 008. Label your material with your name on it using tape.
- We will contact you via e-mail 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.
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.