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There is no other traditional manufacturing process that is as precise and versatile as CNC machining. It is an ideal technique for medium to high volume manufacturing of complex parts.

CNC Machining is a subtractive process where the machine chips away at a solid block of material in creating the required part. It is exactly the opposite of the additive technique where the material is gradually added to form the part.

It is also a popular technique for creating prototypes and durable parts in various industries. One of the significant factors in creating CNC machined parts is material selection. In CNC machining, engineers and product teams practise due diligence in selecting the materials they used.

Since there are plenty of materials to choose from in CNC machining, there is a high probability of picking an unsuitable one for a project. This article will shed light on the different factors to consider in selecting the materials for this process and some common options.

Key Considerations for Choosing Materials for CNC Machining

Before choosing the material to use, product developers must first consider the following:

Use of the Part

Engineers should first and foremost consider the end-use of the part and where it will be used. Both have a significant impact on the selection of materials. One classic example is the use of stainless steel and carbon steel. Although stainless steel seems to be an instant choice because it is corrosion-resistant, it may not be ideal if you are looking for product longevity.


The lightness and heaviness of the material are important factors to consider when creating parts for aerospace and automotive applications. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for low-density materials that are good for CNC machining.

CNC machining parts

CNC machining parts

Strength and Heat-Resistance

The strength of the material is also another factor that will impact material choice in CNC machining. It can be measured in different ways, including wear resistance, tensile strength, and many more.

Temperature requirements will also help in narrowing down the materials to choose from on the onset. Engineers have to consider whether the part will be exposed to different temperatures as each material tends to contract or expand as a response to different temperatures.


The cost of materials is a significant factor to consider in selecting what to use in CNC machining. It is always the goal of manufacturers to choose a material that will meet all the desired performance and properties while minimizing product cost.

In CNC machining, material cost is vital because of the large number of waste materials left behind when creating a part. Some of the available materials for the process are extremely expensive and could have a significant impact on the cost of the project.

Looking at the scrap material output alone will give an idea of cost-efficiency. Therefore, engineers and product developers should spend a considerable amount of time evaluating their budgets before making any final decision.


Since any material, including plastic and metal, can be used in CNC machining as long as they are hard enough to withstand the process, product engineers and developers must make a wise choice.