3-Axis Vertical Machining

Atlas Fibre machines

Mastering Precision & Unlocking Efficiency

3-axis vertical machining of thermoset composite materials like G10/FR4 and GPO-3 involves the use of a CNC milling machine that operates along three linear axes (X, Y, and Z) to shape and finish these materials. Discover the characteristics of 3-admis vertical machining, how it applies to thermoset composites, and its advantages and limitations.

From Innovative Design to Physical Perfection

Explore the capabilities of 3-axis vertical machining and its benefits for specific applications and markets.


3-axis vertical machining is a process used to shape and finish thermoset composite materials like G10/FR4 and GPO-3. This process uses a CNC milling machine that moves along three axes: side-to-side (X-axis), front-to-back (Y-axis), and up-and-down (Z-axis).

In 3-axis vertical machining, the spindle, which holds the cutting tool, is oriented vertically. This means it stands up straight, perpendicular to the worktable. The workpiece stays in one place on the table, while the cutting tool moves along the three axes to remove material and shape the part.

Thermoset composites like G10/FR4 and GPO-3 are strong, resistant to heat and chemicals, and excellent insulators (see why engineers choose thermosets). These properties make them ideal for electrical and mechanical applications.

When machining these materials, it’s important to choose the right tools. Because thermoset composites are abrasive, tools made from durable materials like diamond-coated or carbide are preferred. High spindle speeds (18,000 – 24,000 RPM) and proper feed rates are crucial to avoid excessive tool wear or damage to the material. Also, dust collection systems are essential to manage the fine dust produced during machining, which can be harmful to both the machine and the operators.

Operations in 3-axis vertical machining include drilling precise holes for fasteners or electrical components, milling to create flat surfaces and slots, and cutting to produce sharp angles and intricate patterns. See some fabricated parts made with thermosets and thermoplastics that Atlas Fibre has fabricated in our Component Showcase.

This method has several advantages. It’s simple and cost-effective for basic machining tasks and suitable for creating 2D and 2.5D geometries common in many composite applications. However, it cannot machine complex 3D shapes in a single setup, and multiple setups may be needed to machine all sides of a part, which can increase the potential for errors and setup time.

Applications of 3-axis vertical machining include making electrical insulation components like circuit boards and insulators from G10/FR4, and creating mechanical parts that need high strength and durability.

In summary, 3-axis vertical machining is a versatile and widely used method for processing thermoset composite materials like G10/FR4 and GPO-3. It offers a good balance of precision and efficiency for a variety of industrial applications.


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