Despite developments in technology such as 3D printing, CNC machining is still one of the most cost-effective solutions for on-demand production. Its value in machining materials such as metals cannot be overstated. However, due to the participation of many elements, a few consumers may need help with CNC machining cost estimates.

Do you fall under the above-mentioned category? This essay will deconstruct the aspects that machine shops consider before deciding on expenses. It will also provide helpful advice on how to cut these costs to fit your budget. Keep reading to learn more about these useful tips.

What Is the Cost of CNC Machine by Category?

Several factors influence the price of each of these machines. These considerations include size, power, brand and reputation, cutting speed, materials, software, working area size, precision, automation features, and more. Here is a table showing the prices of several CNC machines:

CNC MachinesCost
Hobby level CO2 laser$1,000 to $3,000
Hobby level CNC router$1,000 to $3,000
Entry level desktop CNC routers$150 to $500
Hobby/Small Business plasma table$1,000 to $5,000
Professional CNC Machine$50,000 to $100,000
Entry-Level 3-axis Mill $50,000 to $100,000
Industrial HD plasma tables$40,000 to $120,000
Production 5-axis CNC Milling MachinesAbove $500,000
Production 3-axis CNC Milling Machines$100,000 to $500,000
Industrial Fiber Laser$100,000 to over $500,000
Table showing the cost of various CNC machines

What Are the Other Costs Related to CNC Machines?

CNC lathe drilling
CNC lathe drilling

In addition to the considerations mentioned above, additional tools, accessories, and licenses may be required for CNC procedures, which may incur additional expenditures. Depending on the machine, the tools may include a milling vice, twist drills, lubricants, and coolants, inspection and measuring equipment, etc. 

You must also consider the cost of staffing a machine, material, and storage costs, and maintenance requirements. Depending on the scale of your organization, these additional fees could range from several hundred to thousands of dollars.

5 CNC Machine Tools

CNC machine tools come in different configurations, including CNC routers, CNC mill, and others. Each tool’s machining process differs, influencing what the machine is used for and how much it costs. 

CNC Laser Cutters

These machines employ a high-powered laser to cut through several materials, including metal, copper, wood, acrylic, and others. Most CNC machining company’s CNC laser cutters range from 4kW to 12kW.

CNC Waterjet Cutters

Waterjets cut through tough materials such as Carbon Fibre, G10, Linen Phenolic, and others by using a high-pressure spray of water combined with abrasive particles.

CNC Routers

These machines carve out forms and designs from a range of composites, acrylics, and wood using a spinning cutting tool. CNC routers can achieve crisp edges and fine tolerances that are normally compromised by laser heat.

CNC Milling Machines

These machines employ rotary cutting tools to remove material from a workpiece. They can drill, tap, cut, and manufacture complex shapes and rapid prototype parts.

CNC Plasma Cutters

These CNC machines use a high-velocity jet of ionized gas (plasma) to cut through metal. They are widely employed in the metal manufacturing and automotive industries.

Factors That Affect The Cost of CNC Machine

Circular milling machine
Circular milling machine

CNC machining prices might vary depending on several factors, which are listed below:

Machining Time

The amount of time needed to finish machining any product that is CNC machined is also a significant factor in determining the cost of CNC machining. As a general rule, the machining cost will increase with the time it takes, adding to the initial setup expenses.

Project completion time estimates can be obtained using software such as CAM, which needs a 3D CAD design model. High levels of complexity demand more work hours to finish.

Tolerances

Manufacturing products with precise tolerances will cost more because creating parts with tight tolerances requires specialized machinery. You may be forced to make holes or cavities with tight tolerances, which may result in burrs on the surface and require extra time to minimize.

Quantity

The size of the order has a significant impact on the ultimate cost. True, the overall price will rise as the number of required finished components grows, but the cost per part will fall.

Labor

One of the benefits of CNC machining over manual machining is that it requires fewer workers to complete production tasks. The primary labor cost is incurred by the skilled designer who creates the 3D CAD design model for machining; this cost rises in proportion to the complexity of the intended product.

Even if you must produce more pieces, the cost of machining each part stays the same. The labor for operating the CNC machine is the next expense, and it likewise rises as the number of hours needed to finish the part’s milling increases.

If physical labor is required for the parts’ finishing, assembly, and post-processing, the additional cost is added to the labor cost. If the completed product is being delivered from the CNC machine shop to the client at a different site, additional labor costs are also imposed.

Tooling cost

In some circumstances, standard tooling is ineffective, hence, custom tooling is required, raising the manufacturing cost when using CNC machines.

Dimensions and Shape complexity

As the complexity of the CNC manufactured parts increases, so does the expense of machining them. Higher complexity parts could need longer production times, additional process steps, and different tools.

The cost of CNC machining is increased by features such as thin walls, deep voids, and sharp interior corners. Simple feature designs reduce production time and are easier to produce.

Compared to smaller parts, larger parts will cost more since they require more raw materials and labor.

CNC Machine

The cost of machining varies depending on the type of machine. Three-axis and multi-axis machines are the two main machine types used to manufacture parts utilizing CNC machining. The machine’s weight and size, as well as its power, speed, and configuration, all affect how much a machine costs.

The cost of CNC turning machines is approximately 35 dollars per hour, whereas the cost of 3-axis CNC machining is roughly 40 dollars per hour. Comparatively, the hourly charge for multi-axis CNC machining is between $75 and $125.

Compared to other machining procedures, CNC milling is more costly because it involves more intricate pieces. The number of axes on a milling machine increases the cost of machining. For instance, five-axis machining is more expensive than three-axis machining.

Material Costs

Material expenses must also be considered when estimating the cost of CNC machining. The cost of the finished product produced by a CNC machine is determined by the materials used to create it. You may need to create a part out of plastic or metal.

Because plastic materials are less durable and less expensive, the machining cost of plastic or aluminum material is lower than that of stainless steel. To create the 3D item, the material is removed from the solid blocks in the same way it is in CNC machines. As a result, the necessary raw material will be greater than the finished product’s material.

The cost of the product is determined by the machinists when they purchase the materials as solid blocks. Three metals are most frequently used in CNC machining: brass, stainless steel, and aluminum. Most machinists utilize aluminum in CNC machines because of its outstanding machinability and affordable price.

Because they are more difficult to machine than aluminum, brass, and stainless steel are more expensive. Since titanium alloy is the priceiest of these metals, its machining costs will also be the greatest, possibly necessitating the employment of special machines to produce the parts. Regarding plastics, the cost of the raw material is lower, the cost of the tools needed is lower, and the processing time for polymers like ABS, Nylon, and Delrin is lower.

Surface Finishing

Surface finishing is required in the case of particular products, which raises the price of the finished product. You should offer a good finish, such as polishing, to improve the beauty of the final product and erase any scratches generated during the machining process.

Anodizing, painting, coating, chroming, blacking, galvanizing, brushing, and water transferring are examples of other finishing procedures. Adding any of these finishes will raise the price of the finished product.

How to Reduce CNC Machining Cost

Abstract scene of the CNC machining center and the G code data background
Abstract scene of the CNC machining center and the G code data background

In most cases, clients who estimate their CNC machining costs may find that the costs are on the high side, especially if they don’t produce large quantities of goods. Here are some methods for modifying CNC machining expenses to match your spending plan:

Design Optimization

In order to save production costs, the design should be optimized to prevent machining any parts of the product that don’t affect its operation. Here are some design optimization practices:

  • Check the Hole Sizes and Profiles

Make sure that the features of your CNC parts, such as slots, holes, curves, threads, etc, can be created using widely accessible standard tools while creating your parts. Special tools are required for bespoke hole and thread diameters, and these can be highly costly. Online resources about standard sizes utilized in the machining sector abound.

  • Avoid Deep Cavities and Thin Walls for Your Part Design

Deep cavities and thin-walled items are very difficult to machine and are typically prone to dimensional errors. These component characteristics frequently result in part vibration and occasionally in part scrappage.

  • Avoid The Need for Very Tight Tolerances as Much as Possible

Since it is far more difficult to produce parts with tighter tolerances, their cost is higher. If a dimension is not necessary for the portion to work as a whole, do not control it. Designing your part with a single, shared reference point or datum is terrific advice. The machinist and you will both benefit from this. First, you should limit the number of dimensional controls that you have to apply to a part; second, the machinist should shorten the inspection time, which further lowers expenses.

  • Break Up Complex Sections In Case Complexity is Unavoidable

It’s best to divide a single item into several pieces that must be put together when it becomes too complicated. This will significantly simplify and ease the process of machining. It minimizes machining procedures, cuts down on setup time, and maximizes cutting time. Designers frequently employ this tactic to increase a part’s manufacturability and reduce its fabrication cost.

Review Material

How much CNC machining will cost depends mainly on the material you choose for your product. When selecting a material for the production process, consider its cost. In addition, the material’s machinability is also crucial. The CNC machine shop hourly rates for your manufacturing process are influenced by the machining time determined by this.

Outsource Your Need

Reducing your CNC machining expenses might also be achieved by outsourcing your project. However, it is expensive to outsource projects to CNC machining firms in industrialized nations. Conversely, Chinese businesses provide the same quality at much lower costs. Below is a list of pricing we found in the two regions:

  • Price in Developed Countries

Prices for CNC machining are often higher in Europe because living standards are better there. Multi-axis machines usually cost between $75 and $120 per hour, whereas 3-axis machines typically cost between $35 and $40 per hour.

  • Prices in Asian Countries

Due to their reputation for offering extremely low CNC machining costs, Chinese businesses are frequently hired by consumers worldwide. ZINTILON is a prime illustration of a Chinese business that offers reasonable costs along with quality assurance. We charge between $8 and $10 for three-axis devices and $30 for equipment with multiple axes.

Buying Used CNC Machines and Equipment

High tech milling machine cutting metal
High tech milling machine cutting metal

Purchasing secondhand is another way to reduce the cost of a CNC machine. Used machines costing $10k or more are the only ones with a market, but you maximize a lot of money by purchasing used ones. Depending on the type of machine you’re trying to buy, we could be talking about several thousand or several hundred thousand dollars. 

You may find excellent deals on machinery and get an estimate of how much you can save by purchasing secondhand through websites such as MachineTools. Do your research and thoroughly inspect if you want to buy used. Look for leaks, maintenance records, stored alarms, alarm history, machine time on the CNC, noise level at speed, and other things.

Your Best Option for CNC Machining Is Zintilon

Are you concerned about finding high-quality CNC goods at reasonable costs? Or perhaps you’re unfamiliar with the CNC process and are looking for a business that can produce high-quality goods? We at Zintilon serve you the best CNC machining services available.

Your CNC machining cost calculation will be simple when you work with us. Our fast quoting platform (which now includes a machining quote calculator) allows you to receive your quotation nearly instantly. We review your design and provide feedback within a day.

Zintilon has developed a coordinated production system that includes feedback and real-time status updates. You may be confident that we will deliver your items with excellent production quality and on schedule thanks to this.

Conclusion

There are various approaches to manufacturing our desired products, like 3D printing and CNC machining. Every customer wants to get an affordable product from the manufacturing company. This article describes the several factors to calculate the cost of machinin and reduce money spent on the product.

Zintilon follows DFM and is committed to providing cost-effective CNC machining solutions with an average of 30 percent lower quotes than competitors by adopting above mentioned tips. Please feel free to get an instant quote!

FAQs

Is CNC Machining Expensive?

If a product using CNC machining is produced in greater quantities, its cost will decrease. For instance, you are required to produce a product for which the $500 machine setup will be required. One product’s raw material costs ten dollars.

The one will cost $510 in total to machine. However, each part will cost $20 if 50 identical ones need to be made. The cost will decrease as the number of pieces required increases because the setup costs for the machine won’t change.

What Is the Best Material to Use for CNC Machining?

The product you intend to manufacture will determine what kind of CNC material is suitable for milling. For instance, aluminum 6061 is the ideal material if you require something that is both reasonably priced and highly machinable. Brass C360 is the greatest metal, but if you need a metal with greater machinability, don’t mind the cost.

How Can You Effectively Reduce CNC Machining Costs?

The cost of CNC operations can be reduced by optimizing the design without impacting the product’s overall usefulness. It is possible to achieve this by adding a radius to the internal vertical edges of the component, limiting the depth of the cavities, increasing the thickness of the walls, optimizing the tapped holes, properly restricting the length of the threads, splitting the complicated parts into simpler separate parts, selecting only necessary surface finishes, and reducing the number of machine setups for operations.

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