Cutr op de Houtpro+ beurs 1 t/m 4 november | Bezoek onze stand 1311 in hal 1 en ontdek de laatste ontwikkelingen.
Knowledge
5
 min read

Reducing the cost of your CNC project

When you are designing something with wood, there are several factors that determine the cost of your CNC project. This article will help you understand what the main factors are that determine the cost of your wooden designs. Based on that, you can optimize your project to get the most out of it.‍

Factors affecting cost of your CNC project

The main factors affecting the cost of CNC machined parts can be categorized under these 5 headings: making a 3D model, geometry, production volume, material selection and finishing techniques.

Creating a 3D model

All CNC-milled parts begin as a 2D or a 3D model. If your project requires a 3D model, this will be designed using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software. The time and resources required to create a 3D model that can be milled are a significant part of the cost. The more complex your design, the more time it takes to create a 3D model. You can simplify the generation of CAD files by purchasing simple standard designs. If you want to produce a cabinet for example, there are multiple standard designs that you can use and adjust parametrically if necessary.

Geometry

As a general rule of thumb, the more geometrically complex a part is, the more expensive it will be to manufacture. Very complex parts may require more machining time, multiple passages and settings,  distinct materials, and more precise inspection. Complexity also affects the type of CNC milling machine to be used. When milling straight lines on the x,y and z axis, a 3-axis CNC machine will suffice. However, if there are undulating lines in the design and you need a router that moves around the workpiece during machining, a 5-axis CNC milling machine must be used. This is a more expensive machine and thus will increase the cost of your project. 

Finally, with CNC machining, there are two design choices that inevitably increase costs: internal corners with a small radius and deep cut-outs. It is not possible to produce sharp (internal) angles with a CNC machine, due to the cylindrical form of the drill bit. The smaller the radius, the smaller your router diameter needs to be. To reduce machine time, it is better to work with a bigger drill bit so you can remove more material at once. If you make your inner radii bigger, this will thus save you production time and costs, especially as you scale up your production. 

You can also save machine time by making your cut-outs less deep. This will allow the router to move faster, since it has to chip less material. If the depth of your cut-outs is shallower, your blade will remain sharp for longer and you also then have the option to use a smaller drill bit.

Material

The material from which a part is made is one of the most important factors in the difference in price between projects. Materials are priced differently, with prices determined by their availability, desired properties and the costs to process the raw material into planks or sheets so it can be used for CNC’ing.

Another important matter to take into account is the nesting of your parts. In the wood industry you generally pay for a whole sheet of material even if you don’t use all of it. If you want to save on material costs, it helps to use as much of the sheet as possible so you have the least amount of leftover material. 

The chart below shows the relative prices of some commonly used wood species. Please note that wood prices fluctuate and exact ratios may vary by location. The costs in the chart below are relative. 

Production Volume

Reduce the cost of CNC machining with large-scale production. The unit cost for a set of identical parts decreases significantly as the repetition of those parts increases. This proportional reduction in cost is the result of eliminating repetitive installation costs. CAD design, CAM preparation and machine setup are handled once for all parts to be manufactured. Thus, for the start-up costs (think, for example, of the work preparation), it does not matter whether you order 1 or 100 pieces. With 100 pieces, however, this price will be divided so that the unit price will be a lot lower. 

Finishing techniques

Parts with special inscriptions or letters are difficult to machine and require longer processing times. Therefore, avoid letters or complex inscriptions on the parts. If you must include letters or unique inscriptions, consider using engraved letters. Embossed lettering will increase the amount of waste material (and cost) to make the letters.

Conclusion

So if price is a major factor in your project, take another look at the complexity, geometry, material and inscriptions of your design and adjust where possible. In addition, keep in mind that if the production volume goes up, the price for production will also go down significantly. For more advice on price optimization of your CNC project, please contact us via e-mail or via chat! 

Visit

Was this helpful? Great!

Upload your next design on Cutr now.

Featured Articles

The latest news, technologies, and resources from our team.

Knowledge
5 min read

Nesting Best Practice: Reducing Left Over Materials

Nesting is the process of arranging or fitting together parts in a way to reduce leftover materials. Basically, it's the act of fitting two or more pieces into one larger piece. We always want to optimize our sheet material usage and reduce leftover materials, so in this blogpost we will show you how nesting can help with this.
Knowledge
5 min read

A guide to 2D error free files

Create your production-optimized 2D drawing and ensure quick quoting from our design team. One of the most critical steps when designing your parts is providing correct 2D drawings. Besides saving time, delivering error free files can save you costs and help you turn your drawing into CNC wooden parts in a short amount of time.
Case studies
5 min read

Meet your Production Partner: Woodwave

Woodwave, one of our new production partners specialized in solid wood, was founded in 2006 when they were asked to do the interior for a Three-Masted Schooner. Back then they were mainly doing wood work in old harbours. In 2008 they switched to restaurants and hospitality and grew rapidly with the help of digitalization. Max, who is managing the work preparation, is showing us around in his workshop.
Knowledge
5 min read

How can I get my wooden parts delivered as fast as possible?

When ordering your wooden parts, you will need to consider the total time it takes to order the raw material, produce the parts and then deliver them to your desired location. This is called the lead time and depends on a number of factors. These 6 tips will help you ensure that this lead time is as short as possible.
Knowledge
5 min read

How to make your design ready for production

How can you best prepare your project and reduce the amount of Cutr design hours needed before production? In this blogpost you can find 11 tips that you can use to make the drawing of your wooden parts ready for production and help you save on additional costs and design hours.
Knowledge
5 min read

Choosing the right sanding level for your desired finish

For the best finish of your wood project, sanding is essential. Learn more about how sanding exactly works, what sandpaper is best to use, and about manual versus machine sanding. Here's how to choose the best finish for your CNC project.