Introduction(how to remove chrome plating from plastic Edwina)

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CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines are automated milling machines that are programmed and controlled by computers. They have revolutionized manufacturing by enabling fast, precise and consistent machining for complex parts and products. When considering adding CNC capabilities, an important factor is determining the costs involved with purchasing and operating CNC machines. This article will provide an overview of the key costs factors to consider when evaluating CNC machines.
Machine Purchase Costs
The upfront purchase price of a CNC machine can range dramatically based on the size, capabilities and features. Entry-level machines designed for hobbyists can cost a few thousand dollars, while industrial 5-axis CNC machining centers can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some key factors affecting the base price include:
- Size: The larger the travel distances of the axes and size of parts that can be machined, the higher the cost. Larger machines also take up more floor space.
- Number of axes: 3-axis machines are more affordable than 4 and 5-axis machines which provide more flexibility and complexity.
- Spindle power: More powerful spindles allow faster material removal rates but come at a higher price.
- Precision/Accuracy: More precise machines with tighter tolerances and ballscrews are more expensive.
- Automation: Automated features like pallet changers and robotic part loading add cost.
- Brand: Well known CNC brands like Haas and Mazak command higher prices than generic machines.
- Options: Additional options like probes, tool changers and mist coolant systems increase costs.
- New vs Used: Buying a used CNC machine saves substantially over new equipment.
As a ballpark estimate, a new vertical 3-axis CNC milling machine typically costs $50,000 - $150,000 depending on size and features. A new 5-axis CNC machining center with automation can easily cost over $500,000.
Operating Costs
In addition to the base purchase price, there are ongoing costs related to operating and maintaining a CNC machine:
- Electricity: CNC machines consume significant electricity, especially for frequent operation or large machines. This can cost hundreds of dollars per month.
- Cutting Tools: End mills, drills, inserts and other consumable cutting tools represent an ongoing cost. Tooling expenses vary widely based on application and volumes.
- Machine Maintenance: Routine preventative maintenance as well as repairs and replacements of worn components are required. Budget approximately 10% of the machine cost annually.
- Software: Many machines utilize proprietary CAD/CAM software to program and simulate jobs which requires licensing fees. Simple G-code programming may be used instead.
- Personnel: CNC operators or machinists are needed to program, setup and run jobs on the machines. Their salary is an important cost factor.
- Shop Supplies: Items like cutting fluids and oils, measuring tools, vises, tool holders and other supplies are recurring expenses.
- Floor Space: The required space for the CNC machine, supplies, tool crib, and material staging contributes to facility overhead costs.
By understanding both the fixed and variable costs associated with CNC equipment, buyers can make informed decisions and accurate cost projections when adding CNC capabilities.
Estimating CNC Machine Costs
When estimating the overall costs for implementing CNC machining, considerations include:
- Volume: Higher production volumes amortize costs over more parts. CNC is most economical for mid to high volume production.
- Complexity: For complex parts with tight tolerances, CNC provides excellent value and may be more affordable than manual methods.
- Staffing: Existing skilled staff or training investments impact personnel costs. Prior machining experience lowers training time.
- Cutting Time: Faster cycle times and deeper cuts boost productivity but may require higher power/torque machines.
- Current Methods: CNC may not provide major cost benefits if efficient processes already exist. Compare current costs versus CNC estimates.
- Tooling Needs: Applications requiring many specialty cutters increase tooling expenses.
- Setups: Frequent tool changes, program changes or fixture adjustments increase non-cut time and costs.
- Future Growth: There should be sufficient projected volumes to justify the capital investment in CNC equipment.
With detailed analysis of these factors, buyers can build solid justification for purchasing CNC machines.
Cost Per Part Analysis
A detailed cost per part analysis is highly recommended when evaluating the return on investment and financial feasibility of CNC equipment. This involves tallying all of the applicable cost factors and dividing by the annual or monthly part volume to arrive at a cost per part number. The analysis should include:
- Machine purchase payment (for financed equipment)
- Floor space costs
- Utility costs
- Consumable tooling costs
- Maintenance costs
- Software costs
- Equipment depreciation
- Labor costs
- Facility overhead
By comparing the cost per part for the existing method versus the estimated CNC cost per part, the benefit can be clearly quantified. The analysis may reveal that simple 3-axis CNC mills provide the most cost effective solution for certain parts rather than investing in complex 5-axis machines. Or it may show that CNC provides very compelling cost savings over current methods, thereby making it easier to justify the capital expenditure.
Evaluating financing options like leasing can also affect the cost per part analysis. The overall goal is to accurately project the long term costs and savings, rather than simply minimizing the initial purchase price. A detailed cost analysis is time well spent to make a fully informed CNC machine buying decision.
There are many factors to consider when evaluating the costs of purchasing and operating CNC machining equipment. While the upfront machine price is substantial, the ongoing operating expenses and production costs also need to be accounted for through a detailed analysis. Comparing the estimated cost per part versus current methods helps determine the potential return on investment. By taking the time to analyze both fixed and variable costs, buyers can make smart CNC machine investment decisions that generate significant long term cost savings and productivity gains. CNC Milling CNC Machining