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How to Reduce CNC Machining Cost

Views: 411     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-06-22      Origin: Site

How to Reduce CNC Machining Cost

Did you know the global CNC machine market is expected to rise to a value of $115 billion by 2026? With bespoke options, improved quality, and competitive pricing of products today, manufacturers are always looking for ways to reduce costs on both large-scale and prototype production.

To reduce CNC machining costs in different industries, individuals are required to understand the machining process first before finding ways to cut the cost. Read on for an insight into how to calculate CNC machining costs and some of the top tips to help you reduce the cost.

How to Calculate CNC Machining Costs

Numerous factors affect CNC machining costs. Some of these factors include the type of machine used and the length of time taken to complete a project. CNC machining shops also deliver their services at hourly rates depending on the types of machines used.

There are also other factors, such as labor and material costs, that can greatly affect CNC machining costs, which makes it necessary to check on the costs before committing to your order. These will serve as a baseline to provide you with an idea of the impact it will have on your budget.

Tips for Reducing CNC Machining Cost

It is imperative to note that when dealing with the costs associated with CNC machining, one of the most important rules to put into consideration is that a product will be more expensive if the parts take longer to the machine.

Several factors can come into play when estimating the costs from this rule’s point of view. They include part design and the type of material used. We'll focus on some of the best ways to cut costs on part design.

Add Internal Radii Instead of Sharp Corners

This is perhaps the most common mistake made by the majority of manufacturers today. Because almost all machining milling tools are cylindrical, it can be difficult to produce sharp corners on a larger scale. The best way to save time and reduce cost is to use a smaller diameter milling tool.

A smaller corner radius will also mean that the milling tool will have to go around several times on the corners and at a low speed. However, it will also increase the working time, which will also have an impact on the final cost.

You can reduce the cost with a few simple tips as shown below:

· Make the corner radius about 1/3 in size

· The radius should be the same in all corners

· Leave the inner pocket at the bottom with no radius or set a small radius

· If possible, it is recommended to make the radius of the inner corners slightly bigger than the radius the milling machine is required to create in the inner pocket.

A good example of good measurement is when the pocket depths are set to 12mm, the corner radius should be made to at least 5mm in size. It will allow you to use an 8mm milling diameter and a 4mm radius, which will also mean that you will get to mill more quickly.

Use Tight Tolerances Only Where Necessary

The cost of production is higher when you use tight tolerances. There is more machining time and inspection, which adds to the machining time and drives up the overall cost. Setting tight tolerances has two main implications.

Firstly, you will be required to use several moves or additional tools to reach a higher level of accuracy. It will also increase the production time.

Secondly, a manual inspection is required to check whether the parts meet the required accuracy after the production of every batch. The standard tolerance is ±0.01mm and is not defined by design. It is perfect for many parts and should only be used when necessary.

High tolerances increase machining time as well as inspection times, which also means that using tight tolerances when necessary can drastically reduce costs.    

Avoid Thin Walls

Thin walls tend to break easily through vibrations. Although CNC machining can produce parts with thin walls and very tight tolerances, it is recommended to thicken your walls as much as possible. Besides, machining thin walls can be quite tricky and require repetition on an extremely tight tolerance, which results in wastage of a significant amount of time.

There are two rules of thumb that you can use when planning wall thickness. Firstly, it is recommended to maintain a thickness of 1.5mm when dealing with plastic parts. Lower thickness can be reached but should always be examined on its own.

Secondly, the most recommended thickness for metal walls is 0.8mm. Such thickness will be obtained when placing a drill near the ends or designing two drills that are almost touching each other. For this reason, it is advisable to increase the thickness of the walls to save time and lower the cost of production.

Reduce the Depth of Inner Pockets

CNC milling tools have limits on the depths at which they can penetrate raw materials. A rule of thumb should also be followed when dealing with the depths of inner pockets. It states that milling can penetrate and work pretty well without extreme mechanical loads at depths that are equal to its radius, which is also half the diameter.

Note that although deeper pockets can be milled, performing such an operation can lead to an increase in the cost of production. This is mainly because additional equipment is required to attain a deeper depth.

Moreover, you should also limit the depth and length of the threads. Note that threads longer than 1.3 times the size of the diameter of the hole make a weaker connection.


CNC machining is a great solution for mid to large-scale production of plastic and metal components. However, it can prove to be quite an expensive business venture if the right measurements, materials, machining time, or start-up costs are not put into consideration. Ensure you put the above factors into consideration to help you reduce cost, and there is no doubt that you will experience exceptional results.

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