Cost of CNC Machines: A Comprehensive Guide to Their Prices

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There are several types of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines used in manufacturing. In today’s market anyone can purchase a CNC machine to manufacture custom laser cut parts, but the price needs to be right. Many SendCutSend customers have a small CNC router in their garage, but turn to the big guys (us) for more complex cutting or larger projects. 

In this article we’ll discuss the cost of CNC machines and what impact that will have on your project.

CNC Machine Prices: 7 Factors to Consider

The cost of a CNC machine can vary widely depending on the type of machine and what you need it for. Here are some of the main factors that affect CNC machine costs, along with an explanation of each:

Machine size

A 3kW laser cutter will cost significantly less than a 12kW because of the difference in size and power. Same goes for a small desktop CNC mill vs. a mill with a 5’x5’x5’ work envelope. Larger machines tend to be more expensive because they require more material, components, and are more complex to manufacture. The types of parts you are making dictate the size of the ​​machine you need, so be prepared to pay more for a larger machine if you need large parts.

Machine complexity

The complexity of the machine’s design and construction also plays a role in its cost. Machines with more advanced features and capabilities, such as multiple axes of motion or built-in automation, tend to be more expensive. Yes, that 20-position automatic tool changer is awesome…but it’s going to add to your CNC machine cost.

Machine accuracy

CNC machines that offer higher levels of accuracy and precision are typically more expensive. Machines with tight tolerances and advanced calibration systems are more challenging to design and build, which can drive up their cost. Inexpensive hobby CNC machines might be accurate to +/- 0.010” or better, which is usually good enough for a garage workshop. Expect to pay more for a machine that can achieve +/- 0.0003” or better. A lot more. Each thousandth of an inch can mean the difference of $10,000 to $100,000.

Machine speed

Machines that can operate at high speeds tend to be more expensive than those with lower speed capabilities. High-speed machines require more powerful motors, specialized components, and more robust control systems (such as Fanuc or Mitsubishi controllers). Although high-speed machines might be more expensive, they can also be more productive, often offsetting the increased costs with increased production. Sometimes trying to save money by buying a slower machine can cost you more in the long run.

Material compatibility

CNC machines that can work with a wide range of materials, such as metal, plastic, and wood, are generally more expensive than those that are limited to specific materials.

Brand and reputation

The brand and reputation of the CNC machine manufacturer can also affect its cost. Machines from well-known and respected manufacturers tend to be more expensive than those from lesser-known brands.

Additional features

Optional features such as automatic tool changers, coolant systems, and software packages can add to the cost of a CNC machine.

In terms of specific costs, CNC machines can range from a few thousand dollars for a small hobby machine to several hundred thousand dollars for a large industrial machine. It’s essential to consider all of the factors listed above when deciding on the right CNC machine for your needs and budget.

5 CNC Machine Tools

There are several different types of CNC machine tools including laser cutters, waterjet cutters, CNC routers and more. The machining process for each tool varies and impacts what the machine is used for and how much it costs. 

CNC Laser Cutters

These machines use a high-powered laser to cut through a variety of materials, including metal, copper, wood, acrylic and more. At SendCutSend our CNC laser cutters range from 4kW to 12kW.

CNC Waterjet Cutters

Waterjets use a high-pressure stream of water mixed with abrasive particles to cut through difficult materials such as Carbon Fiber, G10, Linen Phenolic and more.

CNC Routers

These machines use a rotating cutting tool to carve out shapes and designs from a wide variety of composites, acrylics, and wood. CNC routers can achieve sharp edges and tight tolerances that are typically impacted by the heat of a laser.

CNC Milling Machines

These machines use rotary cutting tools to remove material from a workpiece. They can perform a range of operations, including drilling, tapping, and cutting, and are ideal for producing complex shapes and parts.

CNC Plasma Cutters

These machines use a high-velocity jet of ionized gas (plasma) to cut through metal. They are commonly used in the metal fabrication and automotive industries.

CNC Machine Costs by Category 

CNC Machine CategoryCost
Entry level desktop CNC routers$150-$500
Hobby level CNC router$1,000- $3,000
Hobby level CO2 laser$1,000-$3,000
Hobby/Small Business plasma table$1,000-$5,000
Professional CNC Machine$50,000-$100,000
Entry-Level 3-axis Mill $50,000-$100,000
Industrial HD plasma tables$40,000-$120,000
Industrial Fiber Laser$100,000 – over $500,000
Production 3-axis CNC Milling Machines$100,000-$500,000
Production 5-axis CNC Milling MachinesOver $500,000

For each of these machines there are several factors that come into play when determining the price. These factors include: size, power, cutting speed, precision, materials, brand and reputation, software, working area size, automation features, and additional features. 

In addition to the above factors, there are additional tools, accessories, and licenses that might be necessary for CNC processes that could present additional costs. Depending on the machine, the tools may include lubricants and coolants, twist drills, a milling vise, inspection and measuring tools. 

You also need to factor in the cost of staffing a machine with operators, material and storage costs and maintenance needs. All of these additional costs could run several hundred to thousands of dollars depending on the size of your operation.

5 Things You Should Consider Before Buying a CNC Machine

Before purchasing a CNC machine, consider the following to help make an informed decision.

Your specific needs

Consider the type of work you’ll be doing with the CNC machine and the materials you’ll be using. This will help you determine the size, power, and type of machine that will best suit your needs.

How much space you have

Consider the amount of space you have available for the machine, including the machine’s footprint and the space needed for any necessary accessories and material storage.

Your budget

Of course budget is a factor, that’s why you’re reading this article. As we’ve discussed, taking into consideration the initial investment plus installation, necessary accessories, operation, and maintenance costs can help determine the total cost of ownership of a CNC machine.

Technical requirements

Technical requirements including power supply, ventilation, and necessary infrastructure modifications need to be kept in mind before purchasing a CNC machine.

Software and compatibility

Determine the software requirements of the machine and ensure that it’s compatible with your existing software and hardware. Also, consider the ease of use of the machine’s software and any necessary training. 

Should you outsource?

If you’re an individual or small business or shop you may determine that outsourcing your CNC machining needs to a manufacturer, like SendCutSend, makes more financial sense than purchasing a machine in house. Outsourcing is a great solution to avoiding the costly investment and maintenance of a personal machine.

Buying Used CNC Machines and Equipment

Another option for saving money on a CNC machine is to buy used. There is really only a market for used machines that cost $10k or more, but buying used could save you big money. We’re talking anywhere from several thousand to several hundred thousand dollars depending on the type of machine you’re looking to purchase. 

Websites like MachineTools are a great place to buy and sell machinery and can help give you an idea of how much you can save when buying used.

If you decide to buy used, you want to make sure to do your due diligence on inspection. Check things like how noisy it is at speed, the machine time on the CNC, stored alarms, alarm history, maintenance logs, leaks, etc.

Reduce Your CNC Machining Costs With SendCutSend Services  

For many creators and small businesses a personal CNC machine makes financial sense. Even for larger businesses the investment can be worthwhile. However, for many, outsourcing your project to a manufacturer like SendCutSend is more cost effective and efficient. 

We house a number of CO2 lasers ranging from 4kW-12kW, industrial waterjet cutters, and industrial CNC routers. These machines work quickly and accurately, saving you time and money. We also keep things affordable with low minimum pricing and free shipping on all standard orders. In addition, we offer in-house services such as bending, powder coating, anodizing, plating, and hardware so you can have your part made exactly how you need all in one place. Visit our website to learn more about our services and get an instant pricing.

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We proudly use hardware by PEM

Flush Standoff, 4-40, .250" Zinc plus Clear Chromate

Aluminum: 5052, 6061, 7075 Steel: Mild, G30

Thread Size4-40 x .250″
Hole size in sheet (+0.003/-.0.000).168″
Minimum sheet thickness0.040″
Maximum sheet thickness.125″
Fastener materialSteel
Minimum distance hole C/L to edge0.230″
When determining the distance between two or more fasteners, you can calculate the distance by the formula, C/L to edge + 1/2 the diameter of the second mounting hole..345″
Recommended panel materialSteel/Aluminum
Coating typeZinc
Aluminum material ranges (5052, 6061, 7075)0.040″-0.125″
Steel material ranges (CRS, HRPO, HR)0.048″-0.119″

We proudly use hardware by PEM

Flush Standoff, 4-40, .250" Passivated

Stainless Steel: 304, 316

Thread Size440
Hole size in sheet (+0.003/-.0.000).166″
Minimum sheet thickness0.04″
Maximum sheet thickness.125″
Fastener material400 Stainless Steel
Minimum distance hole C/L to edge0.230″
When determining the distance between two or more fasteners, you can calculate the distance by the formula, C/L to edge + 1/2 the diameter of the second mounting hole. Example shown with x2 of the same hardware..313″
Recommended panel materialStainless Steel
Coating typePassivated
304 Stainless Steel material ranges0.048″-0.125″
316 Stainless Steel material ranges0.060″-0.125″