Workshop: Introduction to milling with the Bantam Tools PCB Mill

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(Generally, this workshop is offered at least once every two weeks on a rotating basis. Check the Lab calendar for up-to-date availability!)

The Bantam Tools PCB Mill is a 3-axis CNC mill - a subtractive manufacturing machine. Fabricating with this machine is relatively simple, thanks in large part to its well-developed and maintained software. The process consists of only three steps:

  1. Set up
  2. Mill
  3. Clean up

Set up

  1. Set up the machine
  2. CAM the object
  3. Set up the material
  4. Set up the (initial) tool

Set up the machine

  1. Turn on the machine
  2. Home the gantry

CAM the object

  1. Import the CAD design from Bantam Tools into the software. The software is proprietary and is pinned to the station desktop with a rooster icon.
  2. Position the design where you want it to be cut using X, Y, Z coordinates.
  3. Select the appropriate material and tool(s).

Set up the material

  1. Clean off the material (also known as "stock") as well as the location on the bed where you'll be affixing it.
  2. Apply tape to the side of the stock that will be placed on the bed.
  3. Place and firmly press down on the stock on the bed.

Set up the (initial) tool

  1. Use the provided wrenches to hold the spindle in place while loosening the collet nut. You’ll notice two clicks before the previously inserted tool is released. If possible, use a finger to hold on to the tool while loosening so that it does not fall from the collet.
  2. Insert the new tool and tighten with the wrenches until snug (you don't need to go crazy).
  3. Indicate which tools you have available through the software menu.
  4. Click Locate Tool and watch as the software automatically locates the tool.


Press the "Mill all visible" button. Make sure to pay attention to the machine, since if a tool is broken, noticing it sooner rather than later will save you an immense amount of headache.

Clean up

Make sure to always leave the machine cleaner than what you found it! Vacuum up any and all swarf created by the milling process.

Milling considerations

Try to minimize the number of tool changes while optimizing the paths of the selected tools; that is, small tools for precision work, large tools for removing areas of the material.

Workshop checklist

Learning Objectives

By the end of this Workshop, you should:

  1. Know the different parts of the mill, and which parts are dangerous.
  2. Understand the differences and advantages of available tools.
  3. Understand the differences and advantages of available stock.

Measurable Outcomes

By the end of this Workshop, you should be able to:

  1. Control basic machine functionality.
  2. Load stock into the machine.
  3. Load a design into the software, and position and adjust its attributes.
  4. Change a tool.
  5. Mill an object from a design.
  6. Effectively clean the machine.