CNC for Prototype Machining – Pros and Cons

Prototype Machining
By jbc-admin

Although 3D printing has gained in popularity as a quick form of prototyping, CNC machining is also a heavily used and vital process for developing prototype components and products. At JBC Machine, we offer exceptional quality prototyping machining services for our clients.

CNC machining is a highly effective method for prototyping. The suitability of this method hinges on the nature of prototype involved. It is important to consider the purpose of the prototype and the material from which it will be manufactured.

Pros of CNC Machining for Prototyping

There are many reasons why CNC machining is desirable to produce prototypes. Below are some of the advantages of using CNC machining for prototyping:


Due to the fact that CNC machining creates parts from computer files, the ability to repeat the exact same design among all produced parts is exceptional.

Used With Strong Materials

CNC machining can work with extremely durable and strong materials, including many types of metals. 3D printing of metals is possible, but not very feasible using a low-cost 3D printer.

Creating a Prototype Similar to the Final Part

CNC machining enables the creation of prototypes similar to the final produced part. This is not easily done with 3D printing or other production methods.

Cons of Prototyping for CNC Machining

Although CNC machining has a number of advantages, there are certain limitations to this method for prototyping as well. They include:

Geometrical Restrictions

Through the use of 4-axis and 5-axis machining, a large degree of geometrical flexibility is available. However even with that, some limitations exist. For structures having complicated internal geometries, a more suitable approach may be to use additive manufacturing processes since those processes are not inhibited by the angles of cutting tools.

Waste Material

CNC machining subtracts material from workpiece which means it requires more material than what actually results in the finished part. Much of the material cut away ends up as plastic or metal chips which require disposal. Other prototyping processes which are additive do not generate waste material unless there is a failure in the printing process and a repetition of the print is required.

Costlier Than 3D Printing

The cost of CNC machining generally involves a higher price point than the use of 3D printing. CNC machining centers utilize large pieces of machinery that require more human supervision and greater power to operate than 3D printers. In addition, machinable metals are usually more expensive than printing materials such as PLA.

To learn how we can help you with your prototype machining needs through our CNC services, call us today at 920.779.4075, complete our contact form, or request a free quote.

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