What Is the Cost of CNC Machining?
CNC machining costing seems to be quite complex. There are many factors to consider, and the final cost assessment is more difficult than with other manufacturing methods.
For example, our own platform can calculate laser cutting prices in a matter of seconds. This method takes into account material usage, cutting time and geometry. It is much more difficult to do the same thing for CNC milling and turning services.
We'll explain why below, taking a closer look at the factors that make up the cost of CNC machining.
CNC Machining Quick Start
CNC machining is a subtractive method of producing parts. This means that these operations remove material. It can be used to create the necessary parts from a variety of materials, including metals, plastics, etc.
The first sentence pretty much covers the essence of CNC machining, distinguishing CNC turning and milling from other manufacturing methods that use computer numerical control. Both turning and milling start with a larger block of material, which is then carved to achieve the desired result.
Calculating Machining Costs
CNC machining prices include several different aspects. Namely, labor and machine costs, tooling, tool wear, materials and setup.
Taking all of these into account can be difficult, as it is difficult to make an accurate assessment of each category. At the same time, there is no way to turn a blind eye to any one of these components of the final price.
Time is fundamental
Almost all of these parameters are directly related to time, with materials being the only exception. Before we can put a price tag on any of them, we need to evaluate the time consumption. And this is the most difficult part of the whole process.
Almost all appropriate shops have some sort of computer-aided manufacturing program. The most basic is CAD-CAM software, which has both design and CAM capabilities.
CAM programs require input in the form of 3D models. Based on these, they use a library of tools and information provided by the shop owner about the details of his machine to generate the entire manufacturing process.
The CAM software creates the G-codes that are responsible for guiding the cutting head, rotation speed, etc. Basically everything related to the production side of the process. m-codes determine tool changes, coolant usage, etc. All of these come with time estimates for each operation.
So we can see how long the whole process took, how much work was done by individual tools, how many tool changes occurred, etc. The machine operator can also adjust the program to better suit his machine or when he sees a better way to produce the part.
But here's the important part - the CAM software can evaluate the time it takes to make the part.
This is all based on 3D models. If you don't have them, quoting usually relies on using Excel sheets and a combination of common sense and previous experience. While bringing intuition into the frame may seem highly inaccurate, it's not.
That's why it's possible to automate the entire pricing process through artificial intelligence. Using part parameters and comparing them to previous work, their production times and costs can lead us to a fairly optimal price point.
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