CNC Machining Vs Sheet Metal Fabrication

When it comes to making your custom metal products, there are many factors to consider. One of these factors is which manufacturing process you choose.

CNC Machining is a great choice if your design can be machined, but sheet metal fabrication may work better for other types of designs. Here are some of the key differences between the two processes:


CNC machining is an industry-wide manufacturing process that utilizes computer programs to control the movement of factory machinery and tools. This method offers greater precision and accuracy than manual part creation, as it requires fewer human errors. It also reduces waste and eliminates the need for manual tool changes. This allows parts to be made in a fraction of the time it would take using a manually operated machine, while providing better results at a lower price.

When it comes to metal fabrication, CNC machining is the most precise option available. It allows for the creation of accurate, high-quality pieces with very little variation or deviation from the original design. This is important because it ensures the end product meets all the specifications and requirements for your business or project. It’s best to choose a company that has experience in CNC machining and can provide you with a full range of services, including CAD and CAM programming, milling, laser cutting, and welding.

Sheet metal fabrication is a process that involves creating products, equipment, and tools to exact specifications using bending, punching, cutting, and welding of flat metal sheets, such as stainless steel or aluminum. It also includes a variety of other advanced technology, such as shearing, where two sharp blades are used one above and the other below the material to cut it along a straight line. Other techniques include embossing or engraving, which involves imparting a raised pattern or text onto the surface of the metal, and stamping, which uses a die to create a shape on the material’s surface.

Sheet metal fabrication is often preferred for its versatility, as it can be used to make a wide variety of products. It is especially effective for creating thin metal walls, device panels, boxes, brackets, chassis, and other structures. This type of fabrication is also ideal for lightweight applications that need a strong, yet light structure. For instance, a Naval submarine that requires an incredibly precise sonar could be built using this fabrication method. This would help ensure that the crew is always aware of the location and speed of any enemy vessel they are in danger of encountering while at sea.


With a CNC machine, designers can easily re-create a prototype. They can use CAD software to produce a 2D or 3D model design of the part, and it will be easy to transfer the design into the machine for fabrication. Using the machine in this way eliminates the need to make a physical prototype, which can be expensive and time-consuming. This also eliminates the need to keep up with versions of the design that might exist on paper, a flash drive or a disk, which can be prone to errors.

While CNC machining can be used on a wide variety of materials, it is best for parts that require high precision and complex geometries. It is most commonly used on metals, but can also be used for plastics. The flexibility of this subtractive manufacturing process allows it to create a wide range of part sizes and shapes, with excellent finishes and tight tolerances.

Sheet metal fabrication is a flexible manufacturing method that can be used for low- or high-volume production. This process involves cutting and bending metal sheets into the desired shape, and it is useful for many different industries. Its flexibility is a big advantage over other processes, such as die-casting, which requires a lot of material to produce the same result.

The flexibility of sheet metal fabrication is limited by the thickness of the metal and its ductility. Thicker metals need more force to pierce and deform, which can strain the machines. This can cause the metal to crack or break, which may compromise the integrity of the part. In addition, thin metals cannot hold the clamping loads needed to resist these forces. This makes them difficult to fabricate using stamping and forming techniques.

Another limitation of sheet metal fabrication is its cost, especially for high-volume production. This is due to the high upfront costs for tooling, which can add up quickly. However, once the initial investment has been made, the per-unit cost drops significantly as production volumes increase.


The cost of CNC machining depends on the number of parts ordered and the turnaround time. Large orders decrease the overall price per part because of the economies of scale. However, there are still labor costs associated with changing the tools and setting up a machine, which increase the total cost. The type of material used also affects the cost, as some materials are harder to cut and require special tools. Also, some materials produce scrap after cutting, which adds to the overall job cost.

The accuracy of a CNC machined part is another major factor in the final cost. Human machinists are often susceptible to error, which can cause minor deviations in precision that can impact the integrity of the finished product. Finding a shop that puts a high priority on delivering projects that closely match the blueprints is important to avoid costly errors.

Aside from reducing the risk of errors, CNC machines help manufacturers reduce the amount of wasted material by optimizing the process. This means using the right tool for the job and avoiding over-cutting. Another cost-saving measure is to use ceramic fiber brushes to remove burrs after cutting. This can cut the machining time and eliminate the need to deburr manually by hand.

One of the best things about working with a CNC machine shop is that you don’t need to worry about training employees on how to operate machinery. With the advanced software that runs CNC machines, it’s easy to train a new employee in a matter of minutes. This saves money and makes the company more efficient.

In addition, CNC machining allows you to work with more complex designs and shapes that would be difficult to create with traditional fabrication methods. This is particularly helpful for manufacturing companies that require precision or are looking to make a product that is more unique.

As a result, CNC machining can offer many benefits to any company that uses metal components in their products or services. This advanced technology will continue to improve and evolve over the years, which can only mean good things for the industry as a whole.


The time it takes to complete a CNC Machining job depends on several factors, including the complexity of the design and how many parts are needed. In general, it takes less time to create larger parts than smaller ones. This is because CNC machines can work more quickly than human laborers and because the machine can be programmed to perform repetitive tasks with high accuracy. However, the process can take longer if the tolerances are tight. In this case, it is important to have the part’s design ready before starting the machining process.

The initial step in a fabrication project is creating the computer-aided design (CAD) model. This step allows the fabricator to get a clear idea of how the product will look and what its dimensions should be. The CAD will also help the fabricator determine what type of metal will be used and how it will be cut. In addition, it can save the manufacturer money by avoiding the need for post-machining inspection.

Once the CAD is completed, the fabricator will use it to make a 3D virtual model of the finished product. This will allow them to identify any areas that need to be welded or drilled and will help prevent any mistakes from being made during the production process. Then, the fabricator will begin constructing the actual piece by using different manufacturing methods, such as cutting and bending. Once the fabrication process is complete, it can be assembled and shipped to the client.

There are a variety of ways to cut metal, but the most popular method is laser cutting. This technique is fast and precise, making it a good choice for larger jobs. Other options include punching, which uses a metal punch to perforate the sheet of metal, and bending, which is used to create angles and forms. Bending is a complex process that requires an experienced fabricator.

The most common items made through metal fabrication include kitchen and restaurant equipment, doors, automobile bodies, and electrical enclosures. This is a valuable process that can increase the quality of a product and reduce its overall cost. It can also improve a company’s profitability by decreasing its dependence on foreign-made goods.

If you’re interested in buying a used CNC machine, please look through our used CNC inventory or contact us today and we’ll guarantee that we can help you find the right machine that’s perfect for your application.

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