Top 4 Factors That Affect CNC Prototyping Costs

by Douthitt Steve

Prototypes are currently essential in the operation of various sectors of the economy. Thus, prototyping machining is crucial for the economy to run smoothly. Most of the prototypes produced are used in important sectors such as the medical sector. Thus, their significance makes them a necessity. The key consideration when it comes to selecting the best prototyping service is the cost available. Thus, manufacturers need to balance quality and costs. Furthermore, various factors affect CNC prototyping costs. Below are the top four factors that affect CNC prototyping costs.

Top 4 factors that affect CNC prototyping costs

1. Part design

As a general rule, simple parts are easy to produce in comparison to complex parts. Furthermore, the production of simple parts may require less lead time. Thus, the simpler the design, the cheaper the CNC prototyping costs, and the more intricate parts will be expensive. Additionally, incomplete and inaccurate CAD drawings may cost customers too much in the end. Inaccurate designs mean that the manufacturer may have to manufacture the part again with the correct design thus, a waste in lead times. Therefore, to avoid the additional costs, clients can consult expert designers before production begins.

2. Type of material

The type of material selected for use plays a significant role in costing. Generally, CNC machining manufacturers do not control the raw material costs. Furthermore, different countries offer different prices for raw materials. For example, CNC machining manufactures in China enjoy easy access and cheap raw materials. Therefore, the cheaper the type of raw material used, the cheaper the CNC prototyping costs. The opposite is true; the higher the raw material costs are, the higher the CNC prototyping costs.

Furthermore, some materials like metal are more expensive than plastics. Thus, the type of material used can contribute significantly to the cost. Additionally, the machinability of a material can also contribute to the pricing. Easily machinable materials are cheaper than those that are difficult as they will take up less lead time.

3. Quantity of parts needed

CNC machining is often custom machining. Thus, the number of parts a client orders plays a crucial role in the overall costs. Producing many parts is expensive than producing small quantities. But, the more bulk the order is, the lower the additional costs will be. Thus, bulk orders may drive down overall production costs. Thus, the ratio of a customer’s cost per unit reduces. Small quantities orders may have an inexpensive upfront cost but may cost a customer more in the end.

4. Tolerance used

The tolerance used also plays a crucial role in the production costs. Tolerance’s purpose is to ensure a part is highly precise. But one’s part does not have to attain the highest tolerance possible. Tight tolerances can increase the cost of production by up to four times the standard tolerance. Thus, the higher the degree of precision required, the higher the production costs will be.


The matter of costs is a critical consideration that customers may look into before requesting part production. But, as customers consider price, they should not compromise on the quality of the part they want to be manufactured.

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