Prototype CNC Machining for Industrial Manufacturing

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Prototype CNC Machining for Industrial Manufacturing

Prototype CNC machining is a process used in producing one piece or a small batch of a product before its custom production and manufacturing. The process is ideal for various things. For example, it is suitable for obtaining a sample of the product you want to develop at a lower cost.

prototype cnc machining

This article will introduce the concept of prototype CNC machining. It will explain why the process is necessary while showing its pros and cons. You will also get to know some of the tips for designing CAD for prototype CNC machining.

The Necessity of Prototype Machining

Prototype CNC machining is a necessary process in industrial manufacturing due to its operation and advantages. With the process, there is a removal of possible threats or flaws that might cause problems during manufacturing. It reduces the possibility of releasing substandard products.

CNC prototype machining makes it easy to identify where problems are or can be so they can be corrected from the manufacturing stage. It also saves time since the detection of the problem is in the preliminary stage.

engineer operating a cnc machine control panel

Why You Should Use CNC Machining for Prototypes

The general notion about CNC machining is that it is used in large scale manufacturing. However, CNC machining use goes way beyond that. This is evident in its use in making prototypes. To understand why you should use CNC machining for prototypes, you must know its pros and cons. Below are the pros and cons of CNC machining for prototypes.

Pros of CNC Machining for Prototypes

There are many prototyping processes in the manufacturing world. However, CNC machining is one of the best. This is due to the many advantages it provides. Below are a few advantages you get to gain by using the process.   

  • Precision and Tolerance

After stating the size and shape in your CAD file, you will want to use a manufacturing process to give you the desired result. To obtain the desired outcome, you will need to use a high precision value machine. Although the dimensions may not be the same as that of the model, the true value deviation will be extremely small. This implies that CNC machining has a better tolerance level when compared to other means of prototyping.

  • Repeatability

When manufacturing using CNC machining, you will obtain multiple results whose dimensions will be the same as one another. The is because CNC machining is a software-controlled manufacturing process. Thus, once you have programmed the software’s dimensions, you can manufacture as many similar products as possible.

  • Minimize Humans’ Involvement

CNC machining reduces humans’ involvement in the manufacturing process. This significantly reduces the chance of errors due to operators. It further minimizes the mistakes that can occur during the manufacturing processes. So, when you need to develop a model, the CNC machine can continue to operate for a long time.

  • Time-Saving

It takes not much time to finish the manufacturing process after using the CNC machining prototype service. This saves time, and it is highly essential when making prototypes. CNC machining is also ideal for prototypes because it allows the mass making of products with high quality. Therefore, it is easy to tweak part of the design, make a prototype, and check the required properties. All this is doable in a short time.

  • It Supports Many Materials

Compared to other methods, CNC prototype machining is an ideal way to develop prototypes because of the many materials it supports.

Cons of Prototyping with CNC Machining

CNC machining has many advantages, and like other things in life, it also has many disadvantages. Below are some of the cons:

  • More Expensive

When compared with 3D printing and other manufacturing processes, CNC prototype machining is more costly. In case the prototype you are designing requires many materials, you will need a huge amount of money to obtain these parts. You will need high power to operate the machine compare to 3D printers. Thus, some manufacturers will prefer using another prototyping means to reduce the cost they will incur. If tolerance is not of major importance, you may want to opt for 3D printing.

  • Requires Technical Know-How

Technical know-how is necessary when using the machine. Thus, you will need to employ engineers that have an understanding of how it works. Since the software will control the machine, you will need engineers that understand how to configure and command the machine to produce the desired result.

  • Wastage of Materials

For a proper prototype CNC Machining, you will need a lot of materials. Since the process is subtractive, there is sure to be a wastage of material. Wastage of material usually is in the form of kerf and subtracted materials.  

Tips for Designing CAD for Prototype CNC Machining

engineer measuring cnc turning part

Before manufacturing a product, the producers used to design illustrations of what they want the product to look like before introducing it into the market. Below are the tips you need when designing CAD files for prototype CNC machining to obtain the desired products precisely, faster, and at a lesser cost.

Use a Reliable CAD Software for Your Design

When choosing a CAD software to use, there are many things you must look at. The two crucial things are the ease of use and technical know-how. Therefore, you will easily specify the shape, volume, and size of the prototype. The most commonly used and renowned CAD software are AutoCAD, CATIA, SolidWorks, and Civil 3D.

Have a Checklist for Your Design

Before you start designing, you need to have a checklist that will contain what you want to appear on your prototype. Having a list will minimize the errors you can commit when designing.

Do not Complicate Your Drawing

Ensure you represent the features of the material you are designing with easily understandable things such as figures, symbols, and pictures. Complicating your drawing can make designing difficult to understand.

Check for the Quality of Your Design

After you have finished designing, ensure you crosscheck your design with the features you have stated in your checklist to see if there is any omission or addition. You can then make the necessary adjustments before finalizing your design.

Rapid Direct CNC Prototype Machining Services

rapiddirect homepage

Do you find it annoying that your prototype takes too much time to be delivered? Or scrap that, do you want to make the best prototype using CNC machining? If yes, we at Rapid Direct strongly represent quality, quantity at the right time.

No matter how small or large, you can easily access our online quotation and DfM analysis. You have a high return by choosing us regardless of the type of prototypes you want to make. On this note, we can proudly say that the barrier between you and your quotation is your internet speed.

Our clients always receive the best, which is evident in how we deliver in terms of quality. It is also apparent in our (ISO 9001:2015) certification. Technical parts are not only our forte. You still get to access experienced minds grilled in CNC machining generally and very excellent in Prototype CNC machining. All the above features are available to you at a lesser price.


With the advent of CNC machining, manufacturers have completed complex processes easily and efficiently. One of the process’s applications is in making prototypes, of which it is one of the best. This article introduces CNC machining in relation to prototype making, why it is necessary, and tips you can use when designing the CAD file. We believe that you’ve learned one or more things about prototype CNC machining. Remember, for the best CNC machining prototype service you can trust us at Rapid Direct.


What is CNC machining?

CNC machining is a subtractive process in which a computer directs different machines to make many products. CNC means computer numerical control machining, and it is very popular in rapid prototyping and custom production. Many people use the manufacturing process because of its accuracy, precision, and automation..

Can CNC machining be used to develop prototypes?

CNC machining is one of the best ways, if not the best way to create prototype parts. It offers many advantages. For example, it is easy to detect errors before real-time production. You can read up on the other benefits of prototype CNC machining by going through the article.

What are the materials for CNC prototypes?

There are many materials for CNC prototypes. Technically, materials supported by CNC machining are also ideal for the process. Common examples of CNC machining materials are copper, titanium, brass, PA, aluminum, bronze, stainless steel, etc.

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