5 Factors That Impact CNC Machining Costs

CNC machining is one of the most expensive manufacturing processes. These machines use CAM software to cut the metal into the desired shape. Since the entire process is computerized, the precision of the constructed part is incredibly high. CNC machines are also widely used to make prototypes in various industries due to their unmatched accuracy.

Although 3D printing has dominated many traditional manufacturing methods, CNC machining remains the most demanded production method. However, the price of the machining varies significantly from case to case. It is essential to understand that there is no universal figure which can be set for industrial CNC machining. However, some factors influence it significantly.

The following excerpt discusses all the crucial factors which dictate the CNC machining cost. Knowing these aspects will prove invaluable, especially when setting up a new machining plant.

Influential Factors in CNC Machining

Before reading through, remember that these are the most visible factors. The final costs revolve around the project specifications as well.

Equipment And Configurations

Both terms, equipment, and configurations are significant in determining the machining cost. CNC machines are expensive. An entry-level device with no advanced features costs around 30k dollars. Moreover, the labor and set-up costs add to the overall expenses.

Next comes the machine heads. These are the extensions attached to the machine’s arm and create different shapes by drilling, milling, or turning. Hence, the price of each head increases with the precision it provides. Also, the construction of the machine’s head alters the final price. For instance, carbide-tipped cutting tools are significantly expensive (almost doubled in price compared to steel ones).


Unlike conventional manufacturing processes, CNC machines use computer-generated designs to create the components.

Since the software is far more complex than simple software and adapted to commercial-level use, they are significantly expensive. Moreover, the monthly subscription also affects the final price of the machining.


The third essential factor which affects the machining price is the material. The availability, market rate, and machinability of the material matter significantly. Softer materials like ABS, PMMA, and PC, etc., are more accessible to mold and cut; therefore, the machined parts are less pricey.

In comparison, copper, aluminum, and steel materials offer more material strength but require more machining efforts. Hence, the cost of the processing naturally increases.

Component Complexity

The component complexity is another determinant of the machining cost. Naturally, pieces with greater details like lettering, distinctive designs, and deep cavities are expensive. Also, if the design is too complicated, it may require a dedicated CNC machine.

Furthermore, the overall expenditure also depends upon the CNC method you choose. CNC machines can turn, drill and mill as well. However, the milling machines are the most expensive.


The per-component quantity also affects the CNC machining costs significantly. Manufacturing a larger number of products proves more cost-effective. For instance, if the manufacturing cost of one piece is 20$ and 100 parts are created, then the production price of each piece would be 2$.

In comparison, if one component is to be manufactured, you’ll have to spend the entire sum of 20$ on that single piece. Therefore, most manufacturers pick CNC machining when the production quantity is high as it balances the per-part cost.

The Takeaway

CNC machining is an expensive manufacturing process, and there is no set rule for the expenses incurred. However, some factors influence the final costs.

The primary price determinants include equipment costs, material, machining type, and software prices. However, other factors, like the higher tolerances, surface treatment, labor, and maintenance costs, also add to the overall expenses.