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Tips to Save Money on Your Next CNC Milling Project

CNC milling is not a cheap process. Machine shop owners are well aware of that and know that each shop operation needs to be carefully planned.


Understanding what factors lead to high costs, and identify a way to minimize or avoid them, is key to maximize efficiency and margins.

Some of the most common cost-increasing factors include overly specific tolerances, expensive materials, and elaborate surface finishes.

The following list collects some useful tips on how to save time and money on CNC milling projects.


1. Select Raw Materials Wisely

Raw materials are one of the main factors to consider when planning a CNC milling project.

Selecting the raw materials cleverly, based on its application, can help save money without compromising on the quality.

Saving money on materials used for prototyping and investing in expensive materials only for specific milling projects, such as medical equipment, is a good example of smart material planning.


2. Reduce the Number of Setups

Once materials and processes are selected, the next step is working on operations and setups.

The goal of this step to reduce the number of setups as much as possible.

Cutting down on setups means cutting downtime, increasing machining time and ultimately increasing profitability.


3. Specify Tolerances Only for Critical Features

Working with tight tolerances has a great impact on production costs.

Where possible, it is better for maintaining standard tolerances and specify tolerances only for critical features and only if absolutely necessary.


4. Maintain a Standard Radius of 3 mm for Inside Corner

The rule of standard specifications applies to inside corners as well, as working with specific radii requires special setups, it’s time-consuming and ultimately expensive.

If the machined part doesn’t require a specific radius, it’s always ideal to work with the standard 3mm or 1/8-inch corner radius.


5. Cut Down on Machining Time by Working with Feasible Materials

Saving on machining time is the ultimate goal in CNC milling planning.

Machining time generally depends on two factors: raw material and part design.

As already mentioned in tip 1, selecting machinable materials, like aluminum, can help reducing machining time and avid tool breakage.

Simplifying the design specification is another great way to optimize the milling operation and save time and money.


Planning on CNC milling process is an important side of running a machine shop. Consider these key tips before you draft your next project. They’ve helped many entrepreneurs save both time and money, and they can work for you too.

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