CNC machining is one of the best manufacturing processes available today. It is renowned for its production speed, precision, accuracy, and efficiency.
However, it’s also a costly investment for businesses. If you plan to run your own CNC machining workshop or outsource your production needs from a trusted manufacturer, it helps to know the costs associated with CNC machining.
Here’s everything you need to know about CNC machining price, including the main factors and variables that contribute to the cost. We have also included some helpful tips to help you optimize the benefits of CNC machining while reducing costs.
An Overview on CNC Machining
CNC (computerized numerical control) machining is a process where the machine is controlled by pre-programmed software to carve out materials to achieve a desired design.
CNC machines are automated equipment that requires less labor for operation. The ability to feed new code into the software and achieve different designs remains a highly beneficial aspect of CNC machining services. It can also be used to manufacture large amounts of a part within a short time.
Main Costs in CNC Machining
1. Material Cost
The raw material cost is a decisive factor. So, you have to consider the type of material chosen for manufacturing the prototype. Most plastics are more cost-effective than metal varieties like aluminum, copper, and stainless steel. Plastics are easy to machine, and their ready availability makes it cheaper to obtain bulk discounts.
The average prices of a block of some common plastics used are,
- ABS – $17
- Nylon – $30
The average prices of a block of some common plastics used are,
- Stainless steel – $90
- Aluminum 6061 – $25
It’s important to keep in mind that CNC machining involves carving out the design from a block of the chosen metal or plastic. So, while the whole part won’t be used and there’s considerable waste, you will be charged for the whole block.
2. Cost of the Machining Process
The machining process should also be included in the cost estimation. It primarily depends on the type of machines and mills used for your production purposes.
These are selected based on the complexity of your design and the material selected to manufacture the part. There are five main types of CNC machines such as CNC milling, CNC turning, CNC lathe, CNC grinding, and CNC router.
In CNC, there are 3-axis machines and multi-axis machines. The machining cost is determined based on the hours invested in the machining process. 3-axis milling and turning machines are cost-effective.
They cost around $30-$40 per hour. Multi-axis machines capable of taking on challenging designs cost a lot more and are typically around $80 or above.
It’s cheaper to outsource your CNC machining requirements than bearing the cost of purchasing machines and running them independently. Kemal is equipped with the best CNC milling and turning machines to give a quality output at low prices for you.
3. Labor or Service Costs
If you aren’t designing the model, you would have to get it done by a 3D design expert and then an engineer to evaluate the machinability of the design and make improvements. The cost will be based on the complexity of the design and the hours needed to make it ready for prototyping.
While CNC machining doesn’t require a lot of labor, it demands a highly skilled and experienced operator to set up, configure, and monitor the process to achieve the required output with precision and accuracy.
In addition, you also have to estimate the repair costs that come with the wear and tear of the machines. When considering all these, it’s cost-saving to get CNC machining done by a third-party company.
4. Equipment Costs
Getting CNC machines on rent is cheaper than purchasing them because the start-up investment is high. However, if you need them for regular or continuous use, purchasing them is cost-effective in the long run.
The equipment cost is determined by the type and size of the machines used. Desktop machines can be used for small-scale prototyping and low-volume printing, while industrial printers are preferred for large-scale manufacturing and parts that demand high-level of resolution.
Entry-level desktop machines can cost around $300 or more, and ones suitable for professional purposes cost around $50,000. Large-scale industrial CNC machines can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000.
Getting your high-volume prototyping requirements outsourced from a reliable manufacturer like Kemal can help you cut down equipment costs significantly.
5. Other Costs
You also have to account for secondary costs related to CNC machining services to get an accurate estimation. In some instances, the prototyping requires the use of tools and a change of tools during the CNC machining process.
The cost of purchasing and maintaining these tools with repairs needs to be included. Post-processing solutions like polishing, powder coating, or other special services to improve the finish of the product come at an added cost.
If you need the production completed fast, the manufacturer might charge an extra cost for it. Finally, consider the cost involved in the delivery and shipping process of your order. If you are ordering CNC machines, you also have to include the setup cost.
Variables That Affect the CNC Machining Price
In addition to the above, there are a few other variables that can influence the final cost. Let’s take a look at them now.
Producing complex shapes and parts requires more machining time, advanced tools, and operations. The design can make it more expensive. Intricate geometries mean it’s more difficult and time-consuming to create the desired part. You need to consider if your part has a complex exterior, interior, and undercuts to determine the possible cost.
When machining an injection mold, a significant proportion of the process is dedicated to cooling and solidifying the material. So, the efficacy of cooling channels used for the purpose determines the rate at which the mold cools down. If it’s faster, the production process is faster, and the cost is lower.
If your prototype features bigger dimensions, it will require more raw materials, a large-scale CNC machine, and more production time. So, consider whether you need it in the exact size or can do with a smaller version of the design.
Smaller designs can be created using desktop or entry-level CNC machines and also require fewer materials and production time. Small-volume orders will cost less. Large orders usually require industrial-grade CNC machines and high-quality materials.
Therefore, the cost is higher. However, the average cost of large-volume orders is low and therefore, more cost-effective for you.
CNC Machining Price Calculators
You can get an approximate estimate of the CNC machining cost for your purpose by using one of the online CNC machining cost calculators. Here are some reliable options available.
You can also use our instance quote platform to calculate the CNC machining cost for your project or talk with one of our experts.
The Cost of CNC Machining Near Me
In addition to using online calculators, you can also get a CNC machining cost estimate from a service provider near me. They will provide a complete breakdown of costs and will also advise on cutting down costs after analyzing your design.
Large-scale manufacturers are often able to provide low prices because they benefit from economies of scale. If the prices of local manufacturers are too costly for you, we recommend you outsource from international CNC machining service providers.
In-store CNC Machining Companies Vs. Online CNC Machining Companies
When choosing between in-store and online CNC machining companies, there are several aspects you need to consider.
It is true that getting your prototyping or manufacturing orders done from an in-store CNC machining company in your locality is beneficial in many ways. You can examine the raw materials and the manufacturing process firsthand to determine if they are up to the expected standard.
Moreover, you can visit the site and explain your requirements clearly. The delivery cost will also be low. So, in-store CNC machining can be convenient.
However, if you consider online CNC machining solution providers, the choice is wide and varied. The quality of components offered by international manufacturers is high. Also, manufacturing companies like Kemal house the latest CNC machining technology to compete with the global standard.
They also offer competitive shipping rates to deliver your order safely and fast. In addition, once you have partnered with a reliable manufacturer, placing your CNC machining orders online is very convenient and hassle-free. You can also use the quotation platform to calculate the cost easily.
9 Tips to Lower CNC Machining Costs
1. Reconsider the Material
The choice of material depends on whether you need a sample to examine the part or large quantities of the part to use for the intended final purpose. Also, if the material is difficult to work with, it will require extra machining time. It can increase the cost. If you find the cost too high, consider if you can use a cheaper material for the purpose.
2. Optimize Design
If your part design is configured for machining and is still complex and costly to manufacture, you can reevaluate the design. Consider if your design with complex geometries can be disintegrated and manufactured in smaller parts and assembled in the final stage. It is very cost-effective.
In some cases, you can also work with an engineer to revise and simplify the design while retaining the functionalities.
3. Outsource From a Trusted Manufacturer
One of the easiest and most convenient ways to reduce costs is to outsource your production requirements from a reputed manufacturer like Kemal. It is cheaper than investing in CNC machines, hiring skilled operators, and spending on maintenance.
Manufacturers who provide CNC machining also have in-depth expertise and will provide you with useful recommendations to optimize the design and reduce cost.
4. Get Rid of Unnecessary Features
If there are any features in the design that don’t contribute to the primary functionality of the part, you can eliminate them. Some features like sharp corners, deep cavities, thin-walled parts, and non-standard holes are difficult to machine and can increase the cost significantly.
A core cavity approach also helps in reducing the need to produce sharp angles and steep curves.
5. Reduce Cosmetic Finishes and Appearances
Parts with high aesthetic appeal are often a result of high-quality materials and multiple finishing solutions. Patterns and letterings on surfaces can also be costly. They are also usually unnecessary.
Choose finishes that are essential for the part’s functionality and safety, and consider using the same finish for the whole part. Applying different finishes in different areas can easily increase the cost.
6. Consider the Size of the Part
As we mentioned before, bigger sizes cost more. So, if you want to cut down the cost, consider if you can do it with a smaller version of the design. The quantity of materials required will be reduced, and the machining time will also be short. Also, use standard hole sizes to keep the cost minimal.
7. The CNC Machines Used
Different CNC machines are used for carving out different features. For example, CNC milling machines are used for producing flat-surfaced parts. 3-axis machines are used for simpler designs and will be less costly than multi-axis machines.
A key tip here is to keep your design simple so that it requires fewer machine setups.
8. Increasing Production Volume
High-volume production is more cost-effective than low-volume manufacturing because of economies of scale. The fixed costs incurred on designing, part evaluation, and manufacturing will be distributed among the number of parts produced. Although the overall cost of large-scale production is high, the average cost will be low.
9. Import From China
Outsourcing your CNC machining requirements from a manufacturer is one of the best ways to reduce costs. China has a reputation for offering high-quality manufactured parts at low cost because companies are efficient at utilizing economies of scale.
Leading manufacturers like Kemal also offer affordable rates for low-volume prototyping.
Kemal: Your Ideal Solution for CNC Machining
Kemal is one of the reputed companies in China, offering a range of manufacturing solutions, including CNC machining. We are equipped with all the latest and advanced CNC machines to offer you the best output. We undertake parts with complex geometries and have the expertise and experience to undertake challenging designs and complete them successfully.
You can select from a wide range of materials and discuss with our expert team to optimize your design and reduce the cost-effectively. Take a look at the host of solutions we offer!