CNC Machined Prototypes Vs Mass Production Parts

by Brock Tebbutt

Accuracy and precision are the major reason why CNC machined parts would remain popular. They are a replica of the original product. With CNC Machining, production is not only accurate but extremely fast as well.

During precision Machining, a variety of materials could be used. But the type of material the engineer ends up using depends greatly on the expected outcome. Certain properties demand certain procedures.

Therefore the type of materials MR A uses may be different from that which Mr. B makes uses. It should also be noted that the tolerance of a machined part depends greatly on the type of material used.

Why are CNC Machined Prototypes Costly?

The high cost of tooling is the primary reason why the prices of CNC Machining seem to be outrageous. This high cost makes it infeasible for volume processes. Also, it is difficult to obtain the required tolerance with the materials often used in additive manufacturing.

CNC Machining requires frequent changing of materials and this is a time-consuming process. So instead of going through the stress, most manufacturers preferred using the materials once with the machine.

Sometimes before production is complete, secondary processing would be required. Without this secondary processing, finishing may not be as smooth as required and tolerance may be below standard.

Secondary processing automatically increases the cost of a prototype. Setting up a CNC Machining Service is not a very easy task. It can be demanding and tedious hence a lot of work goes into it.

Installing the machine requires expertise, it is not a process that can be done haphazardly. If the cost of production is to be reduced, sophisticated pieces of machinery need to be used often.

But this is not so with CNC Machining. Its complex process does not allow a machine to be reused which is the main reason why it is often expensive.

Why is Mass Production Cheaper?

Due to lots of reasons, mass production is obviously cheaper when compared to CNC Machining. The first reason for this low cost is the ability of the process to produce more than two products at the same time.

High skills and professionalism is not a necessity in mass production. Most of the tasks here can be carried out by unskilled laborers. As expected, this leads to a reduction in the cost of labor and a general reduction in the cost of manufacturing.

Mass production is not only Cheaper, it allows the manufacturing of more products within a limited time. This of course is impossible with CNC Machining that allows only the production of a single prototype.


Products manufactured via the mass production process do not undergo a thorough examination. But when a prototype is made via CNC, that single prototype is examined in all the dimensions to ensure accuracy. That is why single prototypes are usually more expensive.

Another factor that contributes to the cost is the number of products made at a time. In mass production, numerous products can be manufactured but in CNC Machining, only one product can be manufactured at a time.

Finally, sourcing of materials for production in large quantities causes a price reduction. This is only obtainable in mass production.

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