Cost Of CNC Prototyping A Cost Breakdown

Cost Of CNC Prototyping A Cost Breakdown

CNC is a manufacturing method that automates machine tool control, machining, and accuracy through the use of pre-programmed computer software. In different industries, many parts are produced and manufactured through CNC machining. Cost, then, is one of the most important considerations when choosing CNC Machining Service. While both cost and quality are important, finding the right balance between low cost and high quality can be difficult. Therefore, it is important to understand the cost of CNC prototyping.

The cost of CNC prototyping will be broken down in this article. It will show you the different factors that affect the cost of CNC prototyping and how you can get the best price.

Table of Contents

The Actual Price of CNC Machining

One of the gray areas in CNC machining is the “Is CNC prototyping expensive?” The question. There is a lot of information on the Internet about the cost of CNC development. However, much of the information is conflicting. Some people say that CNC machining prototyping is the least expensive method, while others say that CNC machining is the most expensive method.

Believe us, we know how hard it is to understand. But the first thing you should know is that the cost of prototyping can vary a lot. It depends on the materials you use, the specifications required for the part, and the complexity of the part design. If you know every factor that affects the price of CNC machining prototyping, you will be able to figure out how much you should pay and how much competitive CNC machining prototyping services should cost.

Factors Affecting the Cost of CNC Prototyping

There are a few things you need to know about the development cost of CNC prototyping in order to figure out how much it will cost. These factors have both direct and secondary ways of affecting the cost of CNC prototyping. The following is a description of how these two factors affect the cost of CNC machining.

Factors that Directly Affect Prototyping Costs

These factors are important to the CNC machining manufacturing process and do not change from one service to another. They also depend on your design program. Therefore, they can directly affect the cost of CNC machining. Here are some of the important factors that you should consider:

How Difficult Is It to Design

The shape of the part is one of the main factors that affect the cost of prototyping for CNC machining. If the design and shape of the part are simple, the cost of CNC machining fabrication will be much lower than a part with a complex structure. The reason for this is that simple shapes are easier to machine and take less time to produce.

For example, if your prototype design has concealed cuts, many different-sized holes, and a lot of detail, it will take longer to machine and cost more to a CNC prototype than a part that only requires a small amount of cutting and milling.

If prototyping costs are important to your project, you may want to take a look at your design. See if certain design elements are really needed or if they can be omitted to save machining time.


The tolerances of your part design are another important factor that affects the cost of CNC machining fabrication. This means that your product or sample needs to be more precise.

One of the most accurate manufacturing methods available today is the CNC machining process. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that your parts always need to be very precise. When parts are held to very strict standards, it can be more expensive to create prototypes. The reason for this is that it takes more time to be very precise.

A study at the University of Illinois found that between a coarse tolerance of ±0.030 and a standard tolerance of ±0.005, the cost of CNC machining can double. Are you interested in ±0.001 tolerance? The price could quadruple.

So if you require the tightest possible tolerances, don’t be surprised if you get a quote that blows your mind. If you are buying a prototype, it is likely that the tightest tolerances will not be required. This will save you production costs.

Material Selection

It goes without saying that the cost of CNC machining prototyping also depends on the materials you choose. CNC machining services do not always control the cost of raw materials. However, prices vary around the world. There are many rapid prototyping services in China that can offer a lower cost of CNC prototyping. This is because they have access to cheaper raw materials.

In most cases, plastic is cheaper than metal. But that doesn’t help because there are so many plastics and metals to choose from. Plastic tends to be a common choice for prototyping due to its cheapness. When it comes to CNC machining and prototyping plastics, ABS is one of the better choices. Of course, many people also use POM, PC, PA, and PMMA.

Aluminum is usually the most cost-effective metal material, so it is often used for CNC machining prototyping. Yonglihao Machinery has a long and complete list of materials available for CNC machining here.

Also, keep in mind that the cost of CNC machining prototyping depends on more than just the cost of the raw material. You should also consider the machinability of the material being used. This is because it takes longer to use a material that is not easily moldable, which can lead to an increase in the cost of CNC machining fabrication.

Choice of Surface Finish

The finish you want is the fourth major factor that affects the cost of CNC machining fabrication. There are many different forms of aftertreatment, each with a different cost. Fortunately, there is the option of no post-processing (also known as “machining” or “milling”). This is perfect for low-cost CNC prototyping needs.

Different finishing steps bring different characteristics to the prototype or finished part. This includes good-looking qualities such as smoothness or gloss, as well as better usable characteristics and better durability. If a CNC prototype requires a finish, choose one rather than several. This will reduce the cost of CNC prototyping.

Factors that Indirectly Affect the Cost of Prototyping

In addition to the four factors mentioned above, there are a number of factors that do not have a significant impact on the cost of prototyping. The factors affecting each service are also different, so you may want to discuss their pricing plans with your prototyping partner.

Types of CNC Machining

There are many types of CNC machining, some of which are more modern or costly. For example, there are milling machines and lathes, as well as 3-axis and multi-axis CNC machines. These machines are different in any price range. For example, when used, three-axis CNC lathes cost less to CNC prototypes than multi-axis machines such as four- and five-axis machines. This is because multi-axis machines can produce prototypes with more complex shapes.

In most cases, A wide variety of CNC machining options are available to you, the CNC machining manufacturer. If you are not sure which CNC machine is best for your prototype, feel free to ask your prototyping company.

Order Size

The more parts you need to machine, the more you pay. However, the situation becomes complicated when economies of scale come into play. This means that the price of ordering a part may not increase as the number of parts ordered increases. Instead, the cost per part will decrease as the number of parts increases.

This doesn’t just apply to injection molds, where the high cost of tooling is spread over many parts. This is called economies of scale. This is also useful for CNC machining prototyping. This is because CNC machining services can repeat the same process over and over again without having to prepare it in the same way each time. This may not change the price of materials, but it can reduce the labor and time costs of CNC development.


Labor costs are another factor that affects the cost of CNC prototyping. When someone performs CNC machining, they have to pay for more than just machines and materials. They also have to pay for a team of highly skilled workers, design engineers, and other support staff. Therefore, the price you get from CNC services includes the cost of labor.

But labor costs are obviously related to many of the other things discussed in this article. For example, if a sample has a complex shape and takes longer to produce, more workers or more experienced workers will be needed. This will make CNC machining production more expensive than simple parts that require less time and work.

You can also change labor costs before you begin fabrication. If your design needs to be digitized or optimized for production, the service you hire will factor the cost of the design engineer into the production price.


The cost of CNC machining prototyping depends on many things. This can be done either directly or indirectly, and it is important to understand both factors when considering acquiring CNC prototyping services.

This article has revealed the secrets of CNC prototyping and the different factors that affect its cost. You can also change the cost of CNC fabrication services by changing these factors. Do you need good prototyping? Then consider Yonglihao Machinery. Our team members know a lot about CNC machining, and they will help you make the most of your ideas.

Subscribe to get expert design and manufacturing tips
Scroll to Top