9 Reasons CNC Machined Parts are More Expensive


Countless industries depend on CNC machined parts. Otherwise known as Computer Numerical Control, this type of manufacturing is extremely calculated and precise. While these parts are more expensive, it also provides you with the customizations that are needed. From track pumps to piston rings to valves, so many parts can be created using CNC machines.

Understanding the reasons for paying more will ensure that you get the value out of the parts needed for your industry.

The Time Involved with Programming

There’s the old adage that you get what you pay for. When you want accuracy and precision, you don’t go with a mass production of parts. Instead, you go with CNC machining. One of the most significant costs with producing CNC machined parts, however, is the time that it takes to program the computer.

Several steps are involved with the programming, including determining which operations have to be performed (milling, hole machining, etc.), the machining order, the calculations for the programming, and more. The setup and production run documentation has to be created, too. All of this takes time and special training. Not just anyone can program a CNC machine. And, when projects are more extensive, it requires more processes and a higher level of skill.

The Tools Needed to Work with Specific Materials

The tools involved with CNC machining are not cheap. It’s why so many companies choose to use a third party rather than doing the machining on their own. Depending on the machines, they can run from $10,000 to $200,000.

The cost of the machines correlates with the size of the projects being performed. Bigger projects result in more expensive machines. There are motors, precision rails, and other components to consider.

Various things will need to be produced, so different tools will be needed. There may be the need to have single flute and double flute end mills, T-slotting and dovetail mills, thread mills, drills, and more. Even if all of these tools aren’t needed to produce your parts, the shop you work with has still had to make these investments.

The Cost of Materials

What your parts are produced from will impact the costs. Some of the most common materials include:

  • Stainless steel
  • Aluminum
  • Brass
  • Plastics

Of course, when you want to reduce the cost of a project, the easiest thing to do is discuss a different material. For example, swapping stainless steel for aluminum can reduce your costs dramatically.


Choosing CNC machining generally means that you require customization and complexity within the parts. You’ll pay for such things as part geometry and the various services that you require.

Additionally, you’ll submit part tolerances. Essentially, how closely does the part need to follow the design submission? The smaller the tolerance, the more expensive your part is going to be.
Wear and Tear

The reality is that wear and tear are common with CNC machining because of the processes involved. A single motor replacement could cost thousands of dollars. This goes into the overall repair and maintenance upkeep of the shop. These are expenses that will have a direct impact on what you pay for parts.


There is a lot of labor that goes into producing CNC parts, including:

  • Supervising the machine
  • Extracting parts
  • Cleaning up
  • Finishing the parts
  • Packaging and shipping

The cost to produce one part versus 100 parts is almost the same. Once you’ve already paid for the cost of programming and for the customization, the only thing you’re really paying for to produce large quantities is the extra material. The labor is minimal when large quantities are involved.

A person has to supervise the machine at all times when it’s operating. Cleaning up, packaging, and shipping would have to happen regardless of whether one or 100 parts are produced.

The cost of the labor will often be a variant, however. This is when you have to consider where your parts are being produced. When you want quality, paying a bit more for the labor can yield better results.

Overall Design

Not all designs are created equally. When you start to get into more intricate designs, it’s not just going to take more time to program. It may also require more time in the overall production aspect.

Depending on the design and the material, certain specialty tools may have to be used. When a CNC shop knows that they have the means to make a difficult part, they’ll often raise the cost due to supply and demand. While it doesn’t seem fair, shops have the ability to set their own prices. It’s all the more reason why you need to get quotes from multiple shops before placing an order.

Profit and Overhead

You may be surprised to find that there’s a significant cost in profit and overhead. This is where the various machine shops start to differ in the cost. Many will incur similar costs when it comes to labor and the cost of materials and labor.

Some companies want to make a greater profit than others. Additionally, the overhead can be substantial with some companies based on the facility they’re in and even the kind of technology they’re using. If you start working with a shop that uses fancy websites that will automate a quote or you visit a shop that is more spacious than you deem necessary, you’re likely going to spend more on the parts.

Quality Assurance

Quality is of the utmost importance as you want to ensure the parts are manufactured to your exact specifications. If there’s an error in the calculations, the production, or anything else, it can be detrimental to your own operations. It can lower productivity or prevent your product from being the best that it can be.

You pay for QA. Failure to pay the competitive costs of CNC machining means that you’re getting a subpar product.

Contact Professionals for Your CNC Machine Parts Needs

At Cliffe Metal Products, we have the ability to provide quality CNC machined parts. With over 40 years of experience in the industry, we have the skills to provide the highly customized parts that you need quickly and at competitive prices. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with your specific application.


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