Why is CNC Machine so Expensive? | The Edge Cutter

Be it a hard-core CNC machining enthusiast or a professional CNC machine operator, CNC routers are pretty plain cool to all. But the real challenge is when you have to diligently choose one as per your level-of-experience and purpose, that too, within a decent price range. 

This is being said because the minimum cost of a DIY level CNC router model starts from $1k. So, you can probably guess how much a production-level or other higher-level CNC machine could cost. In this article, you will know about the price ranges of different CNC router types, factors that determine the cost, and many more. 

What is the cost of a CNC router?

Router Types Price Range
Hobbyist-grade CNC router $(1000 to 3000)
Pro-grade CNC router $(5000 to 1000)
Toolroom or Entry-level 3-axisVertical Milling Center $(60,000 to 100,000)
Production 3-axisVertical Milling Center $(150,000 to 300,000)
Entry-level 5-axis Machine $(200,000 to 500,000)
Production 5-axis Machine More than $500,000
Toolroom or Entry-level 2-axis LatheMachine $(30,000 to 60,000)
Production 2-axis Lathe $(60,000-250,000)
Multi-spindle, Multi-axis, and Multi-turret Sturdy RoboticLathe More than $500,000

Well, these are obviously some basic guidelines. There are several other attributes that contribute to determining the final price of the router.

Maximum CNC dealers do negotiate with the buyers, still you may end up expending more than expected.

So, you need to give:

  • Vivid descriptions of some of the primarily used CNC routers that might fulfill your purpose
  • What you should expect for hidden expenses
  • Some tips on how to cut down extra cost 

Why are CNCs so Expensive?

Now that you know about the massive price ranges for different router types, below are some attributes that influence the price range of the routers accordingly: 

  • Machine Size (generally measured in X/Y/Z directional travel)
  • Machine Weight (bulkier router frame = sturdier CNC machine)
  • Speed (Revolutions Per Minute, Maximum travels at rapid mode, time required to change the router tool)
  • Power (Rotating force of the spindle, Servo motors size)
  • Manufacturing Country (China, Japan vs Taiwan, Korea, Germany)
  • Options like auto tool modifier, coolant pressure, chip conveyor, tool or part sensing, robotic part loader, pallet pool, bar feeder, etc.
  • Configuration of the machine ( 2 or 5 axis lathe mill or 3 axis mill or 9 axis lathe)

Out of these few factors, the machine size, its configuration, options, and the place or country of its manufacture will make the ultimate difference to the conclusion.

Some Primarily Used CNC Machines

Hobbyist CNC Machines

If you are looking for the most affordable CNC machine of all, then the hobbyist machine is for you. It starts at the minimal price spectrum of around $1k and can maximum reach up to circa $3k. By far, this is the most widely used CNC router which is generally used for panel, wood, plastic or any non-ferrous metal cutting. If you are just a beginner level CNC machinist who is also looking to save his/her budget, then a hobbyist machine is the ideal choice.Amazon.com is the perfect platform to find your desired miniature hobbyist CNC router at an inexpensive rate. This router type is basically fit for the engraving tasks and other light-duty wooden or metal projects. Generally, while using any CNC machine, it is first necessary to understand the working of that model and follow the instructions accordingly. But, if you are only looking for a fun, toy-type CNC machine, then a hobbyist machine is the one.

Entry-level CNC Machines

If you are looking for a CNC machine for not just tinkering with but to get some real stuff out of it, then an entry-level CNC machine is the best for you. With an entry-level CNC router, you can handle a lot of worthwhile tasks that a professional workshop generally handles. These are, too, ideal for conducting any custom tooling projects, only if you want to really push your R&D skills! 

Production Machines

This is the part where things start getting pricier. A production CNC machine is a router that works to shave off each second of the cycle time. The machine is designed to operate 24*7 and can be pushed to its maximum potential if you have bulk production orders to meet. If you are planning to step into this field, you should better prepare yourself first and then proceed. I will suggest you get some training from a pro-grade CNC machinist who can understand your purpose and can accordingly help you through this. Try to visit the manufacturing trade programs to find what is offered.There are numerous such CNC manufacturers if I talk about. But, it is humanly impossible to name them all alone, so I mentioned some of the popular ones you could check below and reach out to them to request few quotes:

  • Matsuura (one of the best Japanese mill brands)
  • Nakamura (perfect Japanese lathe machine)
  • Hurco (popular for easy to program controller/regulator )
  • YCM (Chinese company which is quite affordable)
  • Haas (highly economic al, American CNC production machines)
  • Mazak (old-time muscle)
  • DMG Mori (attractive German CNC machines)
  • Makino (an expensive choice for its many excelling features)
  • Okuma (good, study machines which are value for money)
  • Romi (affordable Brazilian machines, great within that price range)
  • Brother (fast, miniature, and very economical CNC mills)
  • Doosan (diverse range of CNC machines)
  • Fanuc (possibly the best known on the market for their miniature drills/mill

Well, there are several other names, but this list will give you an initial point to start with.

The saddest setback is that only a few CNC machine manufacturing companies prefer to mention their model prices online. This is a commercial strategy to attract the customer compelling him/her to call the company directly, find a local representative, talk to that the person on phone, scheduling a meeting telling the representative to visit the customer’s place, talk to the representative about the longevity, quality, possibility of fulfillment of the purpose with the representative about that CNC machine model, and at last trickle the pricing information from the representative.

Unpredictable Expenses of CNC Routers

The CNC machine price has more to do with its accessories than the actual cost of the router. 

Here are those influential factors:

  • Tool holders like end mills and their holders, drilling chucks and collets
  • CNC Cutting tools including drill, end mills, etc.
  • Workpiece holders like vises, clamps, etc.
  • Programming software (can cost about a few hundred dollars for one year of subscription or ten thousand dollars for a one-time subscription cost including the annual fees for maintenance costing up to a few more thousands, or so
  • Measuring tools like micrometers, calipers, height gauge, surface tables, etc.

Conclusion

All in all, prices may widely differ on the basis of what type of work you would do, what is your experience level of using a particular CNC machine model, etc. But, here’s what I recommend: if you want to save cost on your CNC machine, then make sure to double the budget for buying quality cutting tools. It ensures you with a quality cutting output, which is the ultimate purpose behind everything. 

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