How to Reduce CNC Machining Costs with Proven Design Tips?
To fully leverage the benefits of CNC machining, it’s crucial to optimize your design and carefully select the appropriate materials. Consult these fourteen layout tips to enhance the efficiency of CNC machining, minimize costs, and fabricate flawless parts tailored to your project’s requirements.
Whether you aim to produce one prototype or engage in large-scale creation through CNC machining, cost reduction is usually a top priority. The good news is that smart design choices can effectively control manufacturing expenses. Adhering to DFM guidelines enables you to manufacture cost-effective parts that satisfy functional design criteria.
In this article, we offer a range of helpful tips to optimize your design for cost-effective CNC machining. Our focus starts with identifying the key factors that increase costs in computer numerical control machining, followed by presenting a set of proven design guidelines that can significantly reduce the project’s overall price.
What is the Cost of CNC machining?
Several factors influence the pricing for CNC-machined units, which include:
- Machining time: The cost of machining a part increases as the time required to complete the task increases. Time is a critical price driver in CNC, particularly for large-scale creations where even minor design errors can negatively impact economies.
- Start-up costs: For smaller production volumes, start-up costs with preparing CAD files & process planning are high. However, these costs are fixable. If the layout and surface finish of the part is amenable to cost scaling, economies of scale principles can be applied to reduce the unit price.
- Other manufacturing costs: If you require tight tolerances and need to design units with properties that are challenging to computer numerical control machines, such as very thin walls, you may require special tools, quality control & additional steps at fewer machining speeds. It will inevitably increase total manufacturing time & cost.
- Material cost: The cost of CNC machining is significantly impacted by the price and the machinability of the bulk material used. By optimizing your layout and selecting materials carefully, you can effectively reduce costs.
With a clear understanding of the cost drivers in computer numerical control machining, you can optimize your designs to achieve lower budgets.
Top Tips for Reducing Cost of CNC Machining
To reduce costs in computer numerical control machining, adjustments can be made to factors such as machining time, start-up prices, and material expenses. While certain product requirements may be inflexible, optimizing the design can significantly lower costs. Below are some tips to reduce CNC machining expenses.
Rounded Internal Corners
Sharp corners with a 90-degree angle require the machining process to pause, rotate the part, and resume machining. These additional steps increase machining time & result in higher costs. Modifying the inner corner layouts of your part can significantly reduce CNC machining expenses.
Incorporating rounded corners into your design enables the machine to run continuously during the production process, reducing overall costs. For even greater cost savings, ensure that the radius of the inner corners is at least 1/3 the depth of the cavity. It allows larger tools to cut corners more efficiently, eliminating the need for smaller tools to make multiple passes over corners with smaller radii.
No Deep Pockets
Deep pockets significantly increase the price of computer numerical control machining due to the amount of material needing removal. Removing large amounts of material is time-consuming & may need special tools to reach the desired depth, further adding to the overall cost.
It is recommended to limit pocket depths in your layout to no more than four times their length. CNC tools have limitations regarding cutting pockets, with the ideal depth being up to 2 to 3 times of diameter.
Less Use of Tight Tolerances
Incorporating tight tolerances in your part design increases machining time and requires manual inspection, which drives the price of CNC machining. Achieving tight tolerances on the internal surfaces of the part is particularly challenging. The machining holes and cavities may create burrs on corners, necessitating an additional manual deburring process. This time-consuming process adds to the overall cost of CNC machining.
Expand Thin Walls
Machining thin walls is a time-consuming process as they are delicate and require many passes with low depths to prevent errors/fractures. Thin walls are often a result of holes & threads placed near the edges of the unit. Placing these features strategically can help reduce the likelihood of thin walls and the associated time and cost of machining them.
Thick walls are structurally stable and typically cost less to machine than thin walls. If weight is not a critical factor, we recommend designing metal units with thicker walls of 0.8mm. We recommend plastic units with thicker walls of 1.5 millimeters to reduce the machining time and associated costs.
Less Use of Length of Threads
Threads that exceed 1.5 times the width of the hole do not enhance the connection’s strength. The longer threads than required can result in extra expenses due to the need for specialized tools to manufacture them.
To minimize expenses, establish a limit of t3 times the hole width for the maximum length of threads in your design. Remember that threads in holes must have a different half-diameter left unthreaded at the hole’s end.
Optimize Tapped Holes
In tapped holes, the cost is influenced by two factors – depth & tap size. Extending the thread length beyond a certain point does not enhance the part’s strength. Moreover, going beyond three times the hole width in depth increases the chance of tap breakage and extra time, escalating costs. Similarly, tiny threads also increase expenses since they require manual tapping, which is time-consuming and risky.
To reduce the cost of CNC machining, it is advisable to restrict the depth to 3 times the hole width and use standard tap size in the layout. For instance, if your design requires 3 to 48 taps, switching to the more common 4 to 40 taps can result in cost savings. Moreover, we recommend maintaining holes with threads larger than 2 to 56 inches.
Influence Standard Sizes of Drills
By designing your part with standard hole sizes, you can ensure CNC machines use drill bits for fast and efficient hole creation. Conversely, varying size necessitates final mill equipment, which can increase costs. Additionally, the hole’s depth plays a crucial role. While openings as deep as ten times the width can be machined, they are challenging to manufacture and lead to higher expenses.
No Use of Multiple Finishes
The surface finish of the computer numerical control machined part enhances its appearance. However, the cost of the part increases with improved finishes. Requesting multiple finishes for a single part further amplifies the cost.
To cut down costs, we recommend opting for a machine finish for the whole piece. Request multiple finishes when essential to the project’s requirements.
Divide the Complex Parts
Parts with high aspect ratios are typically challenging to machine. For instance, small features with a high aspect ratio are problematic to manufacture as they tend to vibrate. As with other machining factors, the complexity of the task increases the cost.
To minimize CNC machining expenses, it is advisable to design all features with a width-to-weight ratio of less than 4. Linking them to the wall or summing brace support can enhance stiffness. It also reduces the manufacturing difficulty, thus reducing costs.
Always request Larger Quantities
Ordering a larger quantity can notably influence the piece price, thanks to the concept of economies of scale. It can be a valuable ally in cost-cutting efforts. For instance, increasing your order size from 1 to 50 items may result in a reduction of over 50% in the unit price. It might be worthwhile to contemplate placing more orders during your next purchase.
Keep It Simple
Simplicity is a recurring theme in various tips to reduce computer numerical control machining costs. If you opt for a complete unit design, you’ll probably need specialized tooling & fixtures. You will also need multiple machine setups/specific materials, which can add to your expenses.
CNC Machining From Creatingway
Once you’ve implemented all our cost-cutting tips into your design, you can rest assured that you’ve fine-tuned it for CNC machining. With that in mind, you’re now ready to search for a CNC machining manufacturer. So it can manufacture your part precisely and efficiently without breaking the bank.
At Creatingway, we are a reliable CNC machining partner. Our commitment to meticulous attention to detail is reflected in the superior quality of our work. We handle everything from material identification to part production and shipping, all from a single location. Our clients can place their trust in us, knowing that we stand behind every product we create and are always willing to go the extra mile. We always ensure their satisfaction with their CNC machined parts.
Creatingway concentrates on CNC manufacturing, prototype machining, low-volume manufacturing, metal fabrication, and parts finishing services, providing you with the best support. ask us one inquiry now.
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