CNC machining is a subtractive rapid manufacturing procedure that uses different cutting tools to chip off pieces of material from a workpiece. CNC refers to Computerized Numerical Control, a series of software and codes that control the machining tools and processes. The machine converts digital 3D designs into the parts intended for production by cutting pieces off the material till the desired shape is reached.
CNC horizontal centers
Since computer codes guide CNC, the process is efficient, precise, and accurate, making it a suitable manufacturing process for different fabrications. However, this device is a little expensive, so you should know the machining price before choosing it for your fabrication. You do not want to start what you won’t finish because you can’t afford the CNC machining price.
This article provides a detailed review of CNC machining costs, providing you with factors that may increase the price and the cost per hour, among other details. Read ahead!
Factors Affecting CNC Machining Price
Below is a detailed overview of some factors determining CNC machining price.
Type of Material Used
CNC machining is suitable for creating plastics and metallic parts. The material used is an integral factor that determines the CNC machining price. Since the material is usually in a block, the cutting tools start to chip off pieces from the material to form the desired product. Generally, plastics are cheaper than metals; therefore, using the former may reduce CNC prototyping costs.
However, some polymers like PEEK may be cheaper than some aluminum alloys. Also, the strength of the material may affect costs. For example, steel is stronger than aluminum. Therefore, an increase in machining time, which in turns lead to a rise in CNC price. Also, more robust material like titanium stresses the machine parts, increasing the wear and tear of the moving parts.
The complexity of the Design
CNC machining price increases as you increase design complexities. Sophisticated parts with several complexities, tight tolerances, and high precision and dimensional accuracy requirements often require multiple operations, tooling and more time. All these increase the machining costs. Such parts may feature several undercuts, deep cavities, internal corners, thin walls, etc.
On the other hand, less complex components require fewer machining tools and time, cutting down the overall CNC machining price. In addition, the amount of raw material needed to create a design also affects costs. Therefore, parts with larger dimensions will cost more than smaller ones.
Lead Time for the Project
The production time is also integral in calculating the CNC machining price. The longer the machining time, the higher the machining costs, as the time you spend working on your material to arrive at the desired fabrication adds to the basic cost of the machine setup. Using software like CAM helps you to estimate the lead time for a particular design.
The volume of Parts Produced
The quantity of the parts adds up to the final cost of the fabrication. The larger the production volume, the more expensive the entire machining process. However, increasing production quantity decreases the cost per part, as the production costs are shared across each product.
Cost of Tooling and Setup
Depending on the design requirements, some custom fabrication may require you the need for specialized goods, increasing machine setup. Such production may even require you to purchase tools you don’t have, increasing the CNC machining price.
CNC milling of a part
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CNC Machining Price Per Hour: How Much Does CNC Machining Cost?
Regardless of the factors determining CNC machining costs, CNC machining price per hour varies depending on location. The machines and their operational costs are expensive, requiring a capital investment. However, the cost per hour is relatively cheaper in Asian countries like China than in Europe and other developed nations.
For example, a typical CNC service in China charges about $8 to $10 per hour for conventional 3-axis machines. However, this pricing triples for fabrication requiring multi-axis devices. A typical Chinese company to consider for your CNC fabrication is ProLean. That said, in Europe, CNC service charges $35 to $40 per hour for regular 3-axis machining and up to around $75 to $120 per hour for multi-axis CNC devices.
How to Calculate CNC Machining Cost Per Hour
In simpler terms, the cost per hour of machining a part is the total cost divided by the number of hours used in creating the product. So, if a particular fabrication costs $40 and has a lead time of 4 hours, that means the cost per hour is $10.
However, calculating a machine’s cost per hour is a bit different. Knowing a machine’s cost per hour is important, especially for one interested in running a service. It gives you an insight into how to charge customers. A machine’s cost per hour is the total cost of the machine minus its scrap value divided by its life expectancy.
So, if you bought a machine with a lifespan of 20,000 hours for $30,000, and has a scrap value of $2000. The machine price per hour is 28,000 divided by the life expectancy (20,000). You’d get a value of $1.4 per hour. This value represents the cost of using this machine per hour. However, this is a relatively low cost, considering we didn’t include maintenance and servicing costs and the cost of tooling and other items.
Understanding the hourly rate of CNC machining services is important, as this gives you an idea of how much you’d spend on your fabrication, even if you are fabricating large amounts. Also, it helps machinists understand how to charge customers when managing a machining service. The factors affecting hourly rate are similar to those affecting CNC machining price, as discussed earlier. For example, rigid materials increase the wear and tear of machine parts. Therefore, their CNC hourly rate will cost more than less rigid materials.
CNC Milling Pricing
CNC milling is one of the most effective CNC operations, as it’s vast functionalities. Unlike milling, most CNC machines have specific functionalities. For example, CNC turning is used for producing parts that have a cylindrical-like shape, with drilling used to create holes in a workpiece and boring for widening such holes. However, milling machines can make parts of any shape and complexity.
Therefore, projects highly dependent on milling operations may be more expensive than other CNC services. In addition, mills are relatively more costly than lathes because they have more complex moving parts, are more difficult to set up, maintain and use, and have more functionalities. In fact, sometimes you may need to employ a technician for this operation.
Factors Affecting the Cost of CNC Milling
The factors affecting CNC milling costs are similar to general CNC machining processes. Below are factors that can increase CNC milling pricing.
- Increase in design and shape complexity.
- Large manufacturing volume
- The type of material you are working with
- Presence of intricate features like undercuts and thin walls
- Tight tolerance and dimensional accuracy specifications
- Parts with more specialized tooling and machine setup.
- Finishing and post-processing operations
Cost of Machining Aluminum
Aluminum is one of the most used metals for manufacturing parts and other components. It is lightweight and possesses excellent machining and mechanical properties, yet it is resistant to several chemical attacks. Machining aluminum is more cost-effective than other materials like carbon steel, stainless steel, titanium, etc.
Aluminum alloys do not require complex tooling and machine setup; they are easier for the machine to cut through, reducing energy consumption. In addition, aluminum is suitable for various industrial applications, including automotive, aerospace, construction, consumer goods, healthcare, etc.
Different aluminum parts
Prolean’s Reliable CNC Machining Service
We have reiterated that CNC machining operations are cost-intensive CNC machining. Therefore, working with a reliable partner is the smart option, especially for your one-time and custom CNC manufacturing needs.
ProLean CNC machining service is an industry leader in providing top-notch manufacturing solutions. We give life to your CAD model bringing out all its best features. We have highly skilled engineers with sufficient knowledge of the latest manufacturing process. With our top-tier facilities consisting of the latest machines, you can be assured that your project will meet all your specifications.
Whether it is custom mass prototyping or small-quantity fabrication, do not hesitate to contact us today!
The factors affecting CNC machining price vary from the complexity and design specification of the part to the type of material chosen. The tooling costs, the number of parts produced and the lead time for such fabrication also affect the machining costs.
Before embarking on a project, try to find out how much it’ll cost you, so you can make a realistic budget. Also, this may assist you in cutting down costs. For example, you can reduce excessive design features that raise prices yet has no significant effect on the part functionality.
That said, regardless of your fabrication’s complexity, CNC machining can create such a design, especially with the multi-axis device.
How Expensive is CNC Machining?
Compared to many other manufacturing processes, CNC machining is expensive, mainly because of the high upfront cost of the machine. That said, the cost of your fabrication depends on the kind of material you are using, the complexity, and the number of parts you are producing, among other factors.
How Can I Reduce CNC Machining Price?
Reducing the complexity of your project is one of the most effective means of cutting down CNC machining costs. Some of the features in a design may not be essential for the functionality of such a part. So cutting down on such elements will significantly drop machining costs. Reducing finishing and post-processing operations and minimizing machine setup are other effective ways of lowering CNC machining prices.
How Much Does a CNC Machining Project Cost?
There is no fixed price. The cost of your project depends mainly on the design requirements. Parts with high precision and tight tolerance specifications will cost more than straightforward designs.