Milling Head: CNC 3D

  • CNC Milling Made Easy.

    With the Milling Head Add-on

The FABtotum’s Milling Head add-on is made for Engraving, Milling and Cutting many common materials.

3D milling head for home and desktop CNC machine

The Milling Head is a 200W brushless motor able to carve, engrave, cut, mill different materials like woods, light metal and non-metal alloys, as well as prototyping foams such as urethane.
With speeds up to 15’000 RPM it can also do engraving on PCBs, enabling a whole new world of embedded rapid prototyping with your FABtotum Personal Fabricator.

3D milling machine and CNC objects and works

Why using a CNC machine? What is it used for?

A CNC milling machine is useful to create 2D and 3D objects with high precision. This kind of device is used in big sizes for industrial mass production. A smaller version, like the FABtotum’s is perfect to fit the gap between big and small companies. This tool is perfect when the need of rapid prototyping with a different material arises. While 3D printing can rarely (as for today) create something different from plastic, a milling tool can cut off or engrave many materials such as cardboard, foams, woods, metals or even PCBs. The result will be of an higher precision compared to additive manufacturing and the surface will be smooth.

A CNC machine on a desktop can be of great help for many areas of interest: from architecture to design, from dental and medical to toys and customization.
Modeling foams can be of many kind (see CNC and Rapid Prototyping Materials) and can provide great results for scaled landscapes and human body parts; woods and metals might help when reproducing buildings, tools, plates and toys. Milling PCB without using chemicals is just a quicker and safer way to develop new projects. If you wish to know more about different choices, read the dedicated Materials page.
The hardest part is choosing the right bit. There are thousands of choices.

Laser PCB engraving: uses of Laser Head of FABtotum 3D Printer

PCB milling for Makers and Hobbyist

PCB milling is the process of removing the copper from a PCB according to a specific design, in order to create a circuit.
With the Milling head and a standard V carve milling bit it’s possible to create fine and detailed PCBs.
The Milling process is simple and straightforward and can be executed with a very limited knowledge of CAM software.
Being able to design and create PCBS is very empowering: create functioning applications, use integrated circuits and mix this technology with others available on the FABtotum!
Create a PCB, solder components and 3D-print it’s custom-made enclosure. All from one device. How cool is that?

How to choose the best milling bit?

The Milling Head uses standard ER8 collets and 1/8th inch bits (3.175 mm).
You may choose the best milling bit depending on the final goal and the material used.
See the “Parts and Accessories” and Materials for Subtractive Rapid Prototyping for more details on the different surfaces. The ones that can be used on a FABtotum are “end mills”, as they must be used with the provided ER-8 chuck. Among this category, a wide range of possibility is still available to better choose the right tool.

Here are a few examples:

flat end milling bits for 3D milling machine

Flat End Milling Bit

These ones are very flexible and can be used for many materials, even the hard ones. They are used to carve the material and take the most of it away without a second step. There are single or double fluted bits (actually, there are milling bits with up to eight flutes): the more you have the hardest can be the material. You wouldn’t use a single fluted for metals.
The number of flutes increase with the hardness of the material. The FABtotum is able to work on any surface but it might be better to add another pass on the same route rather than going too strong.

Ball End Milling Bit

These are the ones needed to mill details or parts that require a nice and smooth finish. They can be fluted as well and the same idea as above applies.
The Ball End Mill, also known as Ball Nose milling bits, are the best option if the shape is not squared but has curves rounded angles.
They work perfectly with all surfaces but are likely to be chosen when a soft wood, balsa or foam is used. This is not a must but just an idea.
The presence of more flutes can add speed and precision, depending on how they spin: moving clockwise the flutes should take off more material while going backwards they would add a cleaner finish to the object.

ball end nose milling bits for 3D milling machine
vcarve PCB milling bits for 3D milling machine

V Carve Milling Bit

These are the best option to mill PCBs. You should make them spin slow as they can be fragile. When the edge is damaged the final quality will be effected as well.
The V Carve do not have any flute and are quite simple. Yet, they are to be used with the right materials. They are very pointy so that final result is very precise.
These bits are a nice option when it comes to engrave on woods or cut thin surfaces (but, honestly, a Laser Head might be a better idea). As with everything, a lot depends on what final result is needed: the V Carve are not a great option if a lot of material must be cut off.

Milling Head V2 Specs

  • 200W Brushless motor
  • Automatic RPM correction
  • 6000-14000 RPM
  • ER-8 compatible chuck
  • Milling bits range: 3.00/3.5mm diameter
  • Fan cooling: twin fan cooling system and dust protection
Milling head for FABtotum 3D printer

This post is also available in: Italian