CNC Prototype Machining- A Money-saving Step in Product Design

CNC Prototype Machining- A Money-saving Step in Product Design

Gone are the days when a complete product was manufactured to check its quality and functioning. Manufacturing prototypes with CNC machines have revolutionized product development.

Although the technology is 70 years old, it’s blessing for different industries in the modern day.

Do you want to design a product but are worried about how to do a quality check without wasting time?

Prototyping is the best thing you can do. Almost every industry that involves product development is making use of CNC prototyping.

Whether it’s a huge industry in aerospace or a small industry producing parts of automobiles, you witness the use of CNC prototyping everywhere.

Discover how CNC prototype machining works, its benefits, and its limitations in this article. The details in this article will help you decide if CNC prototyping is a good option for you once you have read it.

CNC Prototype Machining
CNC machining

What is Prototype Machining?

You must know about prototype machining when you design a pattern on your computer and want to convert it into a physical object.

What is Prototype Machining
Prototype machining

Prototype machining is creating a sample object from a design initiated on the computer to test for the quality check. If there are any defects or faults in that created piece, you can remove them by redesigning and upgrading the object until the final and faultless piece is created.

You may begin production in large quantities after creating an upgraded and flawless sample that passes the quality check test.

Why is CNC Machining Good for Prototyping Processes?

You can find several methods to create a prototype sample piece for testing your product.

Yet CNC machining is ideal for acquiring the best replica sample as you draw on your computer.

The most crucial factors to be considered are accuracy and work speed. Let’s learn about these two factors to understand the value of CNC machining for the prototyping process.

1. Accuracy


The CNC machining process is all computer controlled. You can measure all the nooks and corners of the process and make it better as you want it to be.

The system will stop working if any fault or a minor hurdle occurs during the prototype creation process. But the quality of your proto-sample object will never be compromised.

2. Work Speed

Due to the limited time available, you must complete the prototyping process faster. Other methods, such as injection molding, are slower and require more time to create molds.

As you know, The whole CNC machining system is computerized. You have to input the 3D CAD file of the design, and its CNC system will convert it into CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturer) file.

CAM file carries the G code (The programming instruction)in it. When you use the G code while prototyping with a CNC machining system, you can decrease or increase the movement speed of the work progress at any point.

Applications of CNC Machined Prototype

Applications of CNC Machined Prototype
Applications of CNC Machined Prototypes

CNC machining for prototyping is the most demanding job in the industrial community nowadays. Kemal covers all the capabilities of the best services for each industry.

Here you will learn about CNC machined prototype applications in some industries.

1. Automotive Industry

The parts used in automobiles must have no flaws at all. Faulty parts in the automotive industry mean a higher threat to countless lives driving on the road. These parts can be related to the transmission of a vehicle. Additionally, other parts like brakes and engines are also prototyped.

The automatic industry needs flawless parts for their successful growth with advanced features. Before introducing a particular new feature to mass production, testing it with prototypes is recommended.

The vehicles are not confined to smaller ones. Instead, huge shipping vessels and even trucks are also included in this industry.

2. Architecture and Construction Industry

Who needs to learn that the architecture and construction industry is evolving quickly? More and more machinery is being introduced to make the construction process easier and better. Architecture machines are used for making homes to huge bridges over the seas.

Prototyping helps to make the machinery and parts of the construction site much more reliable. Without the help of CNC prototype machines, the architecture industry may not stand up for even a day.

No tested machinery and products used for construction will result in destruction.

3. Medical Industry

Medical Industry

From a small tooth extraction tool to an electrocardiogram, everything in the medical industry needs prototyping for the manufacturing process. Every machine and tool in the medical industry is designed to save lives.

So, to fill its purpose, it should be tested.

The vastness of the medical industry cannot be ignored and must be addressed with CNC prototyping. For example, it is important to ensure that any part of a ventilator machine will not stop working or malfunction when a patient is on it for his last breath.

4. Military Industry

The weapons designed for the safety of a country are all included in the military industry. The vehicles, tanks, and other things in the military industry have trillions of parts inside them. There is no allowance for a tank to stop working during a war.

CNC prototyping adds even the minute details in weapons and vehicles in the military industry. As countless productions in this industry need prototypes, CNC is a cost-effective way to get everything prototyped.

5. Oil & Energy Industry

Oil extraction below the ground is a challenging task Millions of dollars are spent when the grounds are dug to find oil underground. Prototyping the machinery used in the oil and energy industry will help save those millions of dollars from getting wasted.

How will a company owner feel if he finds out all the money he had spent on buying the machinery was wasted just because the design of the particular machinery wasn’t fit?

Whether a small part of a truck carrying the oil from the site to the factory or a part of a boring machine, it should go through CNC prototyping.

Advantages of CNC Machining for Prototypes

Advantages of CNC Machining for Prototypes
Advantages of CNC Machining for Prototypes

We have talked too much about CNC prototype machines up till now. But do you know why you should use it to avoid all the other product typing processes?

From saving your pocket to avoiding all kinds of flaws in a product design, CNC machining is everything you need to manufacture a perfect product to bring you more sales.

If you are a manufacturing company, you must know that your customers will not only trust you until your products are worth considering testimonials.

1. Repeatability and Consistency

The purpose of prototyping will only succeed if the prototype matches the original product. For example, suppose the original product has an additional finishing, but the CNC prototype still needs it.

In that case, this will mean a lack of repeatability in the CNC prototype.

CNC can consistently work on the prototypes producing repeated versions that can easily be transformed into original and real products. The similarity between the prototype and the original product ensures high perfection in product manufacturing.

2. High Precision

CNC machining takes part in the manufacturing of products directly linked with lives. Even a single issue or malfunctioning of the parts of these machines can result in threatening situations. The precision required for testing the designs comes from CNC machining.

Increasing the precision, prototyping with CNC results in 100% best results. Using other methods does not ensure such a level of precision, and there should be no limitations and disturbances in the design of highly sensitive products in the medical industry.

3. Time-Saving Process

Who wants to spend hours generating a prototype before entering the real production room? But with CNC, prototyping changes get quicker and easier. CNC is a highly automated procedure that uses advanced systems to make everything as quick as possible.

A quick prototype means we can inspect the prototype and begin production.

Even if you have to repeat the prototype making because the first one still had some faults, CNC prototyping is much faster than other methods.

4. Cost Effective

Cost Effective

Product production is already expensive, making prototyping difficult for many manufacturers. It adds to the cost of manufacturing, increasing the overall price of the product. In the long run, this affects the selling of products because people do not want to purchase expensive products.

CNC prototype machining costs lower, helping manufacturers ensure their products’ authenticity without affecting sales.

5. Material Versatility

 The versatility of materials offered in CNC prototyping is lacking in all other prototype procedures. The more types of materials used in prototyping means the prototype can match exactly the real product.

Imagine if you want to get a double-story building to be prototyped; there will be a need for countless different materials. It will be easy to analyze whether the building design is perfect by using different materials.

Limitations of Prototyping Processes With CNC Machined Parts

With all goods, there is always something bad. CNC prototype machining has some limitations in the process of prototyping, and knowing them will help you better understand your product’s prototyping.

1. Subtractive Process

The subjective process of prototyping means that machines first collect a lot of material in one place and then carve by reducing the material and giving out the final product. This process involves a lot of material waste, increasing the overall cost of production.

While the other prototyping methods that use additive processes do not waste a lot of material, keeping the costs lower.

2. Some Geometrical Restrictions

CNC prototyping moves from outside to inside, which means there are a lot of design restrictions associated with it. Of course, when a product is generated from outside to inside, it will be difficult for the machine to reach inside and work on the minute details.

On the other hand, a machine that works from inside to outside will surely have a chance to work on each geometrical shape much more efficiently than CNC.

3. Technical Expertise

Operating a CNC machine requires skills and technical knowledge, and only some people will be able to operate CNC machines successfully. There is a limitation; you will only get your prototyping done once you find a professional.

A professional will cost you more to make your prototype product in the bigger picture. In cases where two or more prototypes would be required for one product, the price will be very high.

So the complexity of the CNC prototype machine creates many hurdles in the process of successful product prototyping.

4. More Expensive Than 3D Printing

As previously discussed, CNC machining is more expensive than most prototyping methods.

The reasons include the following:

  1. It uses an outside-to-inside process to design a prototype which includes more material wastage and ultimately increases the price of the prototype.
  2. There’s always a need for a professional to operate CNC machines. Professionals charge more for making prototypes. Ultimately there’s an increase in the price of CNC prototypes.
  3. Further, using more types of materials means more cost for making one product. The prototyping procedures where only a single or a few materials are used are cheaper.

5. Environmental Unfriendly

 Doing the process of making a product, CNC prototype machining wastes a lot of products that go unused later. This wasted material must go in dustbins and ultimately into the land, including small pieces that cannot be used elsewhere.

This material enters our ecosystem from land, adding to environmental pollution. The environment is already highly polluted, and producing a single CNC prototype increases waste production affecting environmental pollution.

Prototype Machining with CNC vs. 3D Printing

Prototype machining with CNC vs. 3D printing
Prototype machining with CNC vs. 3D printing

3d printing is considered an alternative to CNC prototype machining. But what’s the difference between both of these prototyping procedures? It is essential to know because only then can you decide how to prototype your product.

1. Working Principle

The method of how these prototyping procedures work is completely different. We have already discussed how CNC prototyping takes a piece of material and carves it down for a producing exact copy of the original product.

But 3D printing starts moving from inside to outside. First, the inner details will be worked on, and then the machine will move outside to create the larger parts of the prototype.

There’s a huge difference that makes both of these procedures completely different.

2. Supported Materials

CNC prototyping can use a range of products to make an exact copy of the original product. In comparison, 3D printing cannot use multiple materials to generate the prototype.

3D printing works on the thermostat’s heating process that melts the material into a particular shape. The range of materials used in thermostats is very few.

So both of these prototyping procedures are completely different from each other.

3. Possible Geometry

The geometry of 3D printed products is more complex than the CNC prototyped products. 3D printing focuses on the inner details and then moves outside to the bigger parts of the product.

Well, CNC machining works exactly opposite to this. There is no focus on the internal geometry, which means the prototype is non-functioning and only represents how the product will look instead of demonstrating how it will work.

4. Wastage

3D printing has zero to very less wastage. The machine takes a small amount of material during production and starts making prototypes.

Well, in a CNC prototype machine, a lot of material is taken initially, then transformed into a smaller, exactly-looking prototype. So it’s clear that CNC prototype machining creates more wastage.

5. Manufacturing Time

 CNC machining uses advanced, high-quality computer tools and software. However, 3D printing works more manually, and thus 3D printing requires more time to generate a single prototype.

CNC machining can generate the prototype within a few hours without wasting much time. It’s better to choose a CNC machine if you are time conscious.

CNC Machined Prototypes vs. Injection Molding Prototypes

 CNC Machined Prototypes Vs Injection Molding Prototypes
CNC Machined Prototypes Vs Injection Molding Prototypes

The final product of the CNC prototype and an injection molded prototype Are almost similar in their visuals; however, the internal complexities are different.

1. Part Tolerance

The higher the tolerance level, the more precision and accuracy of the prototyping method is represented. A prototype generated with CNC machines usually has a tolerance of up to more or less 0.01mm.

An injection molded product has a tolerance level from 0.1 to 0.7mm. It means that the prototypes generated by the CNC machines are better and more accurate.

2. Prototype Material

Plastic is usually used for products that are molded with injection. The production process involves melting the material into prototypes and generating a product.

CNC machines enable prototypes with plastic, wood, and other materials.

CAD Modeling Tips For Prototype CNC Machining

CAD Modeling Tips For Prototype CNC Machining

 AHighquality means an actual prototype generated, giving a perfect visual demonstration of the product. That’s why it is highly important to generate quality CAD files.

1. Enhancing the Design Elements

The design elements should be clarified as much as possible. For example, a product that includes lots of cavities must be provided with enough information on the details.

2. Correct Thickness of the Walls

Using the ideal wall thickness of 0.8 mm is a good idea for keeping the quality of a CNC prototyped product. Stronger walls mean a stable and worth it prototype. A plastic wall thickness of 1.5 mm is ideal for products made from plastic. Present this thickness when designing the CAD file.

3. Selecting the CAD Software

Choosing from the available CAD softwares intelligently is crucial.CAD files are generated using different methodologies by different software.

CAD software is being used in multiple manufacturing processes, so there is a rush of software in the market. For example, CAD software for designing buildings should not be used for creating plastic containers.

4. Creating a Checklist

Generate a checklist of your requirements while making a CAD file. There is a chance of remembering one of your requirements. That’s why a checklist helps to keep everything to the point while maintaining all the details. You can create a checklist manually or use computer software for it.

5. Simplify Drawings

You must add enough details but don’t complex the drawings, ultimately confusing the prototype-making professional. Try to make everything as simple as possible without losing even a single detail.

You Need Kemal: The Precision CNC Prototyping Service

Is your product in need of professional CNC prototype machining? Kemal puts efforts into manufacturers like you to help them generate a product from the best possible design.

Turning your eyes toward the case studies of Kemal, you will know how we help manufacturers to work on designs that are worth it. Serving over 2k+ companies and helping them with 50k+ prototypes, Kemal is your go-to solution for a prototype.

 We save you time and money, and don’t waste even a single penny on a faulty design; instead, contact us to get your expert designs prototyped.

Our biggest goal is quality assurance until the manufacturer is satisfied. Trust us for your business; we will give you the best you can imagine.


Multiple materials can be used when we talk about CNC prototype machining.

  • Teflon
  • ABS
  • Nylon
  • Brass
  • Aluminum
  • Metals
  • Magnesium
  • Acrylic
  • PP
  • PC

For faster, error-free production, CNC prototyping is the way to go. Additionally, you can save lots of dollars with prototyping before producing a product.

When looking for smaller batches for prototyping, CNC serves as a better option. Small batches of products usually require injection molding, which is expensive. That’s why most companies prefer using CNC prototyping instead of injection molding.

The type, size, and other factors affect the CNC prototyping cost. Usually, CNC machining cost depends on hourly rates. For example, you can expect $40 for 1 hour of 3-axis machines.

However, if your product requires more cutting axes, you will pay up to 150 dollars for one hour.

  • Operator’s professionalism
  • Size of the product that needs prototyping.
  • Quality of materials used in the CNC machine.
  • Demands of the manufacturer
  • Effects carved on the environment.
  • Key points used for inspecting the prototype
  • Additional services like advanced finishing.
Put your parts into production today

Content in this article

Related Posts
Best 10 CNC Machining Companies in the USA

Request A Quote

*We respect your confidentiality and all information are protected.

Learn How to Manufacture Better Parts