Facilities > CDL > Precision Machine Shop

Precision Machine Shop

by Eric Bryerton last modified Jul 08, 2015 by Mary Mayo

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The CDL machine shop in Charlottesville provides high precision machining of microwave and millimeter wave components to support NRAO’s research and development efforts. The shop can work to tolerances of ±0.0002” (5 microns) as required for millimeter wave components, and is continually exploring new ways to achieve even higher precision as required for sub-millimeter and THz components.

The shop machines production amplifiers, mixer bodies, feed horns, and numerous other components in support of the VLA, GBT, and ALMA. The shop has over 44 years of combined experience in microwave machining.  The machine shop uses Mastercam software to program the NC mills and NC lathe and this software easily reads and translates pertinent information from other CAD files.

Feedhorn Mandrel

The CDL precision machine shop compliments the CDL Chemistry Lab’s effort of electroforming complex microwave components by producing the complicated mandrels and associated internal pieces needed by the lab to produce these complicated hard-to-produce finished microwave components.


The shop has a measuring microscope to check and to verify that all components meet NRAO’s specifications and the microscope is capable of measuring to 0.5 microns in a controlled environment.