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How to machine phenolic with a cnc milling machine?

In the video that accompanies this post, we will see a cnc machining of the HPL phenolic board where different tools work, depending on the type of work required by the design itself. Before explaining a little what we see in the video, we are going to see what this material consists of and its advantages, when working with a cnc milling machine.

What is an HPL phenolic board?

Compact board is a high-pressure laminate (HPL) made from layers of compact fibers impregnated with phenolic resins. In the manufacturing process of phenolic boards, the application of heat (150°C) and high pressure (9 MPa) are combined in presses where the polycondensation of the resin is created.

HPL phenolic is manufactured in different thicknesses and finishes, either on one or both sides. It is a resistant material, temperature and humidity variations do not affect its properties or appearance.

It is a destined material that fulfills high demands of use, we put like example some of its more outstanding functional characteristics:

- Resistance to scratching.

- High mechanical characteristics, resistant to impact.

- Fireproof.

- Non-porous material with very low stain absorption and hygienic properties

- Easy to clean.

- Antistatic.

- Admits all types of machining (cutting, profiling, lowering, high and low relief, engraving, beveling ...)

- Resistance to solvents and acids

What kind of machining can be done on a phenolic board?

Cutting or Drilling

When working on the cutting of a phenolic panel with the cnc milling machine, we have to take into account the speed (rpm) at which the chuck and the tool we will choose will go, as well as the thickness of the material. In the machining of the parts in the video, we have used special TEC-TOOLS tools for wood and HPL (EM2100 series).


Roughing consists of extracting a large amount of material, which takes up a large part of the work time, and the function of reducing the duration of this process to the maximum comes into play to have greater optimization in the times. Here we also have a tool indicated for the roughing function, following the same line of the EM2100 series. In the video two different roughing times are made, the inner and the outer part of the design, taking a time of 8 min and 24 min respectively.

3D finishing

To finish the part, that is, to shape it once the roughing is done so that the finishing tool does not eat much material, we will use a special 3D milling cutter.

These tools have a spherical tip, very suitable for milling or copying in 3D. In the video, the TEC-TOOLS 3D1000 series has been used to give shape to the design of the final work, some castanets, and it has taken 59 minutes to carry out the 3D copying of the 4 pieces.