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How To Reduce CNC Machining Costs 2

How To Reduce CNC Machining Costs

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CNC machining is widely employed across various industries for its high accuracy, precision, speed, and efficiency. However, it is a more costly option when compared to other manufacturing methods such as 3D printing. This article highlights several tips which you can use to significantly lower the cost of your CNC machined parts. We begin by examining what affects the total cost of your CNC part.


  • Machining time: the longer it takes to machine a part, the more expensive it is.
  • Material cost: the price of the bulk material and machinability of the material can greatly affect the overall cost in CNC.
  • Other manufacturing costs: the different tools required, specifications or additional services can drive up costs.


Now that you understand what drives costs up in CNC machining, here are several tips on how to tweak or revise your CNC designs to make it more compatible with the CNC machining process and overall, minimize the costs.

1. Eliminate deep pockets

Deep pockets designs involve the removal of more material, which translates to additional time and higher costs. Special tools may also be used to reach the specific depth you require. So, limit the depth of the pockets in the design to four times the length.

To minimize cost:

  • As much as possible, eliminate deep pockets
  • Limit the depth of pockets by four times the length

2. Round the Internal Corners

Bear in mind that the machines will stop when working on sharp 90-degree corners because the part must be rotated before continuing. This “stop-and-go” process can take time. In comparison, with rounded corner parts, the machine can keep running without stopping.

To minimize cost:

  • Round the internal corners of your design
  • Ensure the radius of the internal corners is around 1/3 the depth of the cavity

How To Reduce CNC Machining Costs 2


3. Use Less Expensive Materials

Softer metals are less expensive to machine because: (a) softer materials such as aluminium (e.g., 6061 and 7075) cuts more easily which saves machining time; (b) harder materials require more expensive tools which can add to the project’s cost.

To minimize cost:

  • Use softer and more ductile metal alloys that are easily machinable when possible
  • Always consider alternative materials

4. Avoid Multiple Finishes

CNC projects tend to have multiple finishes – a first finish is used to remove the CNC markings and a second, to apply a coating. Every additional finish pushes up the cost further. If your sole goal is to save every penny possible, consider choosing the “as-machined” finish – no finish at all.

To minimize cost:

  • Stick to as-machined finish
  • Unless necessary, avoid multiple finishes

5. Remove All Text and Lettering

Adding text on the surface means additional machining steps which means extra machining time and overall, higher costs. If text or logos are an essential part to your design, consider silk screening or painting, which are more cost-effective ways of adding text to CNC parts. If not, avoid any form of text at all.

To minimize cost:

  • Remove all text and lettering
  • Choose engraved over embossed lettering

6. Limit Tight Tolerances

Simply put, the tighter the tolerance, the higher the cost. This is because it will require manual inspections and additional machining time.

  • Specify only the critical surfaces with numerical tolerances
  • Leave the rest of the model within a standard tolerance range

There are many more ways to reduce the costs of your CNC projects. It’s always a great idea to get your CNC parts made from a company that reviews your design and gives suggestions on how you can optimize your parts and save costs. Start your project review with HLH today or discover more articles like this.

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