CNC milling versus Moulding

Most watch cases are made using a moulding process, so why did TiMe22 go for the much more expensive CNC milling process?

Designing our watch

When we designed our watch we designed with grade-5 titanium in mind. We soon found out that almost no case maker wanted to work with this material because they all use the moulding process to making their cases. Grade 5 Titanium is very hard and has a very high melting temperature so moulding is not an option. We were disappointed! Luckely in the moment we decided that we should opt for grade-2 titanium instead we finally found a case maker that could work with grade 5 Titanium (see also “Upgrading to a grade 5 titanium watch case”). The downside is that the case and all other titanium parts now have to be (CNC) machined, resulting in more machine time and increasing the cost price of these parts. Below we found some good explanations on the internet that fully explain the differences between moulding and CNC milling.

MIM (Metal Injection Moulding) explained

The wiki regarding moulding (or molding) gives a good explanation, but there are also some great videos that really show you how this is done:

As already said the moulding process is very cost effective for large (approx. 500+) quantities. But the initial tool (mould) price is quite high, and also after the moulding process the final product still can still have some machine time for example for threads and undercuts.

CNC (computer numerical control) milling explained

Also here the wiki gives a good explanation on CNC and Milling but again the YouTube videos just show perfectly how the process goes.

Special thanks to the CNC Technology YouTube channel for sharing these astonishing videos.

The Advantages for CNC milling are:

  • Very low tolerances are possible
  • Easy and flexible with design changes
  • No parting lines or ejector marks
  • Cost effective for small quantities
  • Low or no tooling cost
  • Ease of producing features such as threads and undercuts

The only big disadvantage for milling is that every part has a lots of machine time thus resulting in higher cost prices. But for high quality watches the price is secondary to the quality of the end product. At TiMe22 we are very happy that we soon can offer you fully grade-5 titanium CNC machined watch.

About Stefan Wessels (TiMe22 Co-founder)

Born (1970) in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. I spend up until my teen years in Hengelo where I went to kindergarten, elementary and secondary school. My parents and I moved to ‘s-Hertogenbosch where I completed my technical education in electronics. After obtaining my degree I did a fair share of traveling around the world as a field service engineer in the High-tech industry (mainly Semiconductors). I also lived abroad in Israel for four years where I worked for a semiconductor company and even now I’m still active in the Solar and Semiconductor industry as service manager at Tempress systems. In 2012 I got married (yes on 12-12-12!) to my wife Josephine and we have a lovely daughter named Elise. For the little spare time I have left I like to spend this on the golf-course and/or smoke cigars with my good friends. My favorite cigar My favorite cigars are the Padron 1964 Aniversario Exclusivo Maduro and COHIBA Piramides Extra. In 2015 my friend Marc and I started talking about our own unique watch design with unprecedented specifications and now we are ready to bring it to market together with you.

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