Undeniably, costing is one of the most important factors to be considered while starting or flourishing a business. In this evolutionary era, where buying a finished machined part does not require an arm and a foot, it is important to wisely select a CNC machine which helps you achieving your desired target in the most economical price range.
For the beginners who have recently stepped into the woodworking world, CNC is an abbreviation of Computerized Numeric Control, it is a machine that helps in fabricating or replicating thousands of parts with intricacy, preciseness, and accuracy by the help of a programmed software.
Before going into depth, you must know that the CNC wood router is composed of power supply, gantry, CNC software/operating system, guide rails, vacuum system, dust port, limit switches, driver, and a motor. Moreover, a CNC wood router is used for fabricating furniture, kitchen accessories, woodcraft, cupboards, and other wooden components.
- How Much Does a CNC Machine Cost?
- Factors Influencing The Cost
- Cost By Types of CNC machines
How Much Does a CNC Machine Cost?
Cost of CNC machine is a highly reliant factor influenced by its size, targeted production volume, computed software, endurance, durability, accuracy, and multi-tasking. However, it can be easily bought in the range from $500-$500,000 depending on the usage and quality.
Factors Influencing The Cost
Food for thought: What makes the price of CNC vary from 4 digits to 6 or 7 digits?
Specifications of the CNC machines are the main determinant which makes it price differently and these include:
- Table size
- CNC software
- Built-in material
- Specifications and configuration
- Manufacturer/ country of manufacturing
- Processing material
- Maintenance cost
Hereby, we will discuss each of these factors in detail so you can easily get to know the things that need to be looked up while buying a CNC router.
Table size plays an important role in an overall cost of the CNC machine. It is also called as an effective working area which is generally built up of steel, aluminum, or wood. Its main features are providing of a flat surface for cutting operations and absorption of vibrations. The higher quality a working table is the less vibrations it will produce. Annealing of the working table makes it harder and resistant to any deformations. The annealing treatment aims to maximize the spindle power on the working bed. Squareness and flatness of a working bed decides the final finish of your product. Only a well-designed working table can withstand the spindle force and lasts longer without losing precision.
For hobbyists, general table sizes ranges from 1’x1’ to 3’x6’ and for light duty factory usage the table sizes are 4’x8’. While for heavy duty factory usage the table size can go as bigger as 7’ to 20’ depending on the product to be catered.
Built-in Material For CNC
The built-in CNC material plays a significant role in overall efficiency of the setup. It is measure of the sturdiness, longevity, and accuracy of the gantry. Several types of CNC materials are used in its building up that includes steel, aluminum, brass, plastics, fiberglass, polypropylene, and wood. Final finish and accuracy of the product being produced depends on the building material of CNC. A heavy material must be chosen as a built-up material if the aimed product requires a lot of impactful machining while a lightweight material can do best if operations like carving, engraving or sign making is aimed to be done.
The building up material plays a massive role in the cost of machine as well as its durability. The weathering conditions where the machine is to be kept is of great importance as in areas with greater humidity like Miami, San Francisco, Hawaii, and Los Angeles wooden CNCs are likely to be warped and metal CNC machines are preferred also, humidity leads towards corrosion of metal which ultimately reduces the efficiency and lifetime of the machine itself.
Specifications & Configuration
Configuration of a CNC machine helps in identifying the level of operation it can execute as well as the production volume it can cater. Specifications of a CNC machine comprises of spindle power and speed, collet, dust collection efficacy, Z-axis travel, limit switches, ball guides, and lubricating system. Hence, the higher specification machine will possess the greater its price will be.
|CNC LEVEL OF OPERATION||PRICE RANGE|
|Hobbyist CNC router||$1,500 to $5,000|
|Basic CNC router||$5,000 to $30,000|
|Multi-purpose CNC router||$30,000 to $100,000|
|Industrial level CNC router||$100,000 and above|
The third major factor on which the cost of CNC machine depends is the material to be processed by the CNC router. In broad terms, CNC is a machine that can cut through any kind of material, but the most common ones are wood, metal, stone, and EPS/Foam.
The CNC wood router can also be used for conducting operations on acrylic, MDF, resin or soft metals etc. and sometimes soft metal can also be carved through it. While metal CNC is used for operating on iron, stainless steel, brass, aluminum, and hard plastics like PVC or MDF too. Stone CNC can cut through stones including jade, crystal, ruby, and others. Likewise, EPS/Foam CNC router can perform operations on Styrofoam and its specificity is it large working area. However, the price range of these CNC machines varies widely with respect to the material they aim to process.
|Wood CNC||Metal CNC||Stone CNC||Foam CNC|
|Basic 3/4-axis, vacuum pump, T-slot.||$2,000-$10,000||$3,000-$40,000||$2,000-$4,000||$5,000-$50,000|
|Advanced multi-spindle, high-speed, carousel||$10,000-$50,000||$20,000-$100,000||$15,000-$100,000||$5,000-$50,000|
Today is the world of using brands. Commodities are priced mostly according to their brand names not according to the efficacy of efficiency they possess. Higher the brand is, higher the price of the item to be sold.
However, to be noted that cheap prices does not mean that the CNC machine is less efficient. Usually, the machines manufactured in countries like USA, Europe, Germany, or North America have a higher price range than the machines manufactured in countries like China or South Asian countries like India, Pakistan, or Nepal. Factor that contributes to their cheap price range is the lower labor cost paid in those countries, specifically in China. But do keep in mind that their products are competitive, efficient, and precise. Some of the renowned brands in woodworking CNC are Bobs CNC, JFT, Piranha, MYSWEETY, Axiom, Maslow, and SainSmart’s Genmitsu CNC.
CNC Software Subscriptions
Software is an integral part in CNC machining. Besides having an operating system, a CNC controlling software is direly needed. A software helps in designing the tool path. All the intricacies and complexities of a drawing are fed into the software pre-hand, before starting the actual processing so, the software can guide the tool according to the fed programming. This helps in achieving the exact product needed for accomplishing the job. CAD and CAM software are the examples.
Since, licensed software needs a renewal every year, thus adding a few bucks of an added price in the total machining or buying cost of a CNC.
Overhauling and repairing an automated product is a general phenomenon. The greater production volume the CNC produces the higher will be wear-out rates. As the manufacturer usually provides a year warranty along with the buying cost which means any changing or repairing of torn parts occurring within a year shall be completely bore by the manufacturer. But, after the warranty period ends the maintenance cost falls into the account of the buyer.
CNC setup is not a random machine thus, its parts and maintenance cost require few extra dollars which greatly adds towards the total cost of a CNC machine.
Cost By Types of CNC machines
Besides the factors, types of CNC machines influence its price greatly too. CNC machine is a broad-spectrum term that specifies to multiple subtractive operations performed by the machine. These operations are classified either by the purpose of usage or its industrial application.
Commonly CNC machines are divided into 5 types with respect to the machining methods:
- Lathe or turning CNC machine
- Milling CNC machine
- Plasma cutting CNC machine
- Electric Discharge CNC machine (EDM)
- Laser CNC machine
|CNC Type||Average Price Range|
|CNC Lathe machine||$500 to $4,000|
|CNC Milling machine||$5,000 to $8,000|
|Plasma cutting CNC machine||$15,000 to $300,000|
|EDM CNC||$16,000 to $20,000|
|CNC Laser machine||$5,000 to $10,000|
1. Lathe Or Turning CNC
CNC lathe works on the principal of stock removal with the help of turning mechanism. It is used for producing external operations like reaming, honing, boring, threading, drilling, or tapering shafts. Job is held up on the rotatory holder and the tool works on the circumference of the job, which gradually slides axially. The CNC process gives a smooth finish, accuracy, and high-level tolerances. On average, a CNC machine costs between a price range of $500 to $1000 while the CNC lathes with improved configuration costs between $800-$2200 and industrial purpose CNC lathe machine costs around $4000. Some of the renowned brands for CNC wood routers are Laguna, Rikon, Jet and Nova.
2. Milling CNC Machines
The milling operation differs from the lathe operation as here, the bar stock remains still, and the tool moves on the circumference as well as depths for carving features. This manufacturing process is used for making slots and drilling cavities. The outcome product is a rectangular or square block with intricate features carved with accuracy. A CNC milling machine costs around $5,000 to $8,000 and the price inflations is observed with the improved configurations.
3. Plasma Cutting CNC Machines
This type of CNC operations is performed in the making of electrical conductors like brass, aluminum, steel, copper, or stainless steel. A specialized type of electrically ionized gas is used as a cutting tool that melts a metal at extremely high temperature of 10,000-degree Fahrenheit which can reach up to 50,000 Fahrenheit. The plasma torch is meant to carve features on electrical conductors. Price range of plasma cutting CNC machines lie in between $15,000 to $300,000.
4. Electric Discharge CNC Machine (EDM)
Electric Discharge CNC machining method is used to perform high-accuracy operations like manufacturing of bevel or helical gears. In this method, the bar stock is kept beneath the electrode wire and controlled sparks are emitted for performing subtractive operations on the bar stock. Heat emitting from the stock reaches up to 21,000-degree Fahrenheit. The molten metal is flushed through continuously moving cooling liquid. Its price range varies in between $16,000 to $20,000 at an average.
5. Laser CNC Machine
Laser cutting operation is a quite concise manufacturing process in which the cutting tool is highly concentrated laser beam which melts the material for getting required surface. This method is usually used for manufacturing of decoration purpose utilities that includes logo, signs, or emblems. Generally, in place of a bar stock thin metal sheet is used and the laser beam acts on it axially to produce intricate cuts. Through this manufacturing process a wide variety of features can be achieved as compared to other discussed machining processes. On an average basis a standardized CNC machine can be bought in a price range of $5,000 to $10,000.
This whole discussion aimed to provide you an average price range for buying a CNC router for woodworking operations. Unfortunately, buying a CNC machine does require an arm and a foot but the results and production volume it produces pays you back the initial investing cost, so do bear in mind that if you intend to become an industrial level woodworker CNC machine is worth spending for.
Best concluding the discussion, if you are a hobbyist go for a 2-axis CNC model but, if you are an industrialist buy a 3 of 4-axis CNC router as it will provide you intricate and detailed features. Also, if you are a high-tech service provider specifically for automotive or aero-space parts go for a 5-axis model.
Hoping this blog will encourage your understanding and was able to clear your confusions regarding the buying costs for CNC machine.