3D Printing vs CNC Machining

3D Printing vs CNC Machining

2021-05-27T10:00:42+00:00March 17, 2021|0 Comments

3D Printing vs CNC Machining – Which is Better for Prototyping?

3d printing vs cnc machining

Today I want to talk about the difference between CNC & 3D printing.

Let’s start with a case.

Few months ago, we got an order from one of our customer, it was a bespoke product, and there’s an agreement for us that we will provide 3D printing samples to them for testing functions.

One month later, the first 3D sample comes out, but it’s not working, we thought there were some small adjustments that need to be made, then another 3D sample made several days later after that, still not working, that moment we found that 3D sample is very weak and fragile, you can’t even use a bit of force, not to mention to test the function.

We had a meeting with our customer and decide to proceed CNC instead (which costs much much more per sample than 3D printing, but this was the only way we can solve the problem).

The sample was made out by CNC finally and the function was good.The process was not smooth because of the lack of understanding of 3D printing and CNC machining at that time.

So here’s the question, which one is more suitable for prototyping?

If cost is your primary consideration, then 3D printing is undoubtedly a better choice because the materials it uses are cheaper than CNC machining. Moreover, in terms of process, 3D printing is to stack materials layer by layer until the desired shape is formed. CNC machining is to cut a whole piece of large material bit by bit to produce the needed parts, and the cut material sometimes cannot be reused, resulting in a lot of waste. This is also the reason for the high cost of CNC machining.

Considering the size and shape, CNC machines are suitable for manufacturing larger parts, and 3D printing is suitable for processing small parts. In addition, if it is a complicated part, it is better to choose 3D printing, which is its inherent advantage. Of course, combined with my case above, if you want a stronger part, you should choose CNC machining.

Finally, talk about the suitable materials for the two. Generally speaking, 3D printing is better for printing plastic parts. This technology is quite mature, but its application in printing metal parts is not very extensive, and it may be The cost is higher than CNC machining. Therefore, CNC machines are more suitable for manufacturing metal parts. By the way, the product I mentioned above is made of metal, and they’re small parts. So there are exceptions to everything.

The above is a personal suggestion for 3D printing and CNC processing. Of course, I am focusing on proofing rather than mass production. If you want to carry out mass production, it is definitely better to use traditional die-casting, pouring, and injection molding.


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