What is CNC Prototyping and How Long Will It Take?

There are various ways to create prototypes for any industry. CNC prototyping is one method you can use to create prototypes at a faster rate when compared to the traditional prototyping methods. With this method, you can create prototypes from a wide range of material types, and you can also create any prototype design as you need it, whether you want to use a simple or complex design.

CNC prototyping requires you to create a design using the CAD or similar software, and then you will need to convert the design file into the file recognized by the CNC machining equipment. You will then need to feed the CNC machining equipment with your design file, which contains certain programmed steps that the equipment will need to perform during the prototyping process.

In this guide, you will learn more about CNC prototyping, how long the CNC prototyping process will take, and the factors that will affect the duration of CNC prototyping.

Understanding about CNC Prototyping – What is It?

To keep it short, CNC prototyping means creating prototypes using CNC machining processes. You can use this process in various industrial applications, and CNC prototyping can often provide the best accuracy and precision for your prototypes. With CNC prototyping, you can create both small and big prototype sizes, and by using computerized programming, you will get the process done using the automated method, which is much faster than the traditional method.

CNC prototyping is one of the best prototyping methods you can use if you want to produce high quality and accurate prototypes. You can use various materials for this process, such as steel, carbon steel, aluminum, wood, ceramics, plastics, and many others. This process is highly customizable, so you can adjust it according to your own preferences and needs.

Also, each CNC prototyping process will differ in their time completion estimates depending on various factors, such as design complexity, tooling quality, and more. So, you can either get your prototypes done faster or slower depending on these factors.

What is the Time Estimate to Complete the CNC Prototyping Process?

It is important to understand that the time estimate for the CNC prototyping process will vary depending on the prototypes you want to build. However, you will also need to know that CNC machining itself is quite a fast manufacturing production process that you can perform with complete automation. So, you will not wait for too long for your prototype to complete with the CNC machining process, as CNC machining is one of the most preferred rapid manufacturing processes you can use to create quick prototypes.

For prototypes that only have simple design elements, you can complete the CNC prototyping process in just a few minutes. For a more complex prototype, a few hours might be needed for you to complete it. Further, you might need to wait for a few days if you are producing a big prototype design with complex design elements.

So, to answer the question about how much time you need to wait for your prototype to get completed with CNC prototyping, it will range from a few minutes to a few days, depending on the design complexity and various other factors. However, compared to the traditional manufacturing method, CNC prototyping will be a faster prototyping process suitable for you to use if you have a tight deadline to meet.

Factors that will Affect the Duration of CNC Prototyping

Whether your CNC prototyping process will be completed faster or slower, it will depend on various factors. Sometimes, you will need to adjust various aspects of your CNC machining operations if you want to get the prototyping process done faster, so that you can meet your production deadline. 

Here are the factors that will affect the duration of your CNC prototyping process:

  • Complexity of design. The CNC prototyping process will follow the design you have submitted to the CNC machining equipment. The equipment will perform various CNC machining processes to create the prototype according to your design blueprint. The more complex the design blueprint you have, the more time it will take for the CNC prototyping process to complete.
  • CNC equipment capability. The capability of the CNC machining equipment itself can be a determining factor for the CNC prototyping duration. Each CNC machining has their own specifications, which include maximum processing speed, feeds, and so on. Using a high-end CNC machining equipment will help you speed up the CNC prototyping process.
  • The materials you use. The materials you use for the CNC prototyping process will also affect the time required for you to complete it. The harder the materials, the more time it will be for the CNC machining equipment to cut it, so it will lead to longer time estimates. So, consider choosing the right workpiece materials if you want to get the prototype done faster.
  • The CNC cutter quality. The cutter quality of the CNC machining equipment can also affect the speed for the CNC prototyping process. The higher the quality of the cutting tools, the faster it will be for you to complete the prototypes. You also need to take a look at the cutting tool’s life expectancy to see if you will get the prototypes done faster or slower.
  • Production quantity. The more prototype units you need to produce, the more time it will require for you to complete the process. You will also need more time to complete the project if each prototype requires a high level of details and a variety of features.


For those who want to know about how to get a prototype made fast, it’s best for you to consider using the CNC prototyping process. CNC prototyping will allow you to get your prototypes done in as fast as a few minutes, depending on various factors, such as design elements, production quantity, tooling quality, and many others. 

So, in general, you don’t need to wait for weeks or months just to get your prototype made by using the CNC prototyping process, which can help save a lot of time in your manufacturing production.