Most custom plastic parts are produced commercially via injection molding. This is because once the upfront costs are covered, injection molding can produce in quantities of thousands to hundreds of thousands with very low price points per item. However, those upfront costs can drive decisions on when to use injection molding, especially if the quantities needed for production are not very high. This is where 3D printing can have an advantage for production.
3D printers can make a part without the need for upfront tooling costs. Sometimes called direct digital manufacturing, a 3D printing service only requires a 3D CAD file to get started. With a low barrier to entry both in costs and minimum requirements, 3D printing can help everywhere from rapid prototyping to low volume production. 3D printing often has a break-even between 250 and 2,000 parts before injection molding becomes a more viable option.
The major expense in injection molding is the upfront tooling required. Not only does it require a significant financial investment, but it also often takes weeks to months to have the tool produced for a production run. However, as quantities increase, or specific materials and surfacing requirements are absolutely critical, using an injection molding service is still the correct route.
3D printing and injection molding are not mutually exclusive. In fact, 3D printing often is a critical step in the prototype and validation of an injection mold part design. 3D printing is also being used to build molds or mold inserts and improve the process. Metal 3D printed mold cores can contain complex cooling channels which would be impossible to traditionally machine. These improvements can make the molding process faster or more reliable with less scrap.
3D printing processes like stereolithography (SLA) have commonly been used to fit check validations before moving to more costly tooling. This removes the risk of moving to a final production tool and finding the revision needs to change after tooling is produced. Beyond a substitute for low volume production, 3D printing is also a crucial step to ensure the molded project will be successful.
Services like Xometry are able to take projects from prototype to production regardless of if they are 3D prints or molded parts. Xometry has an instant quoting tool and on-staff expertise to consult with clients on their projects to determine the best manufacturing route to match their requirements. More about Xometry’s capabilities can be found here.
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Stay up-to-date on all the latest news from the 3D printing industry and receive information and offers from third party vendors.
You May Also Like
CORE Offers to Buy 3D Printing Service Fathom Amid Economic Downturn
Fathom Digital Manufacturing Corp. (NYSE: FATH), a player in the on-demand digital manufacturing sector, received a non-binding acquisition proposal from CORE Industrial Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm that played...
3D Printing News Unpeeled: Iowa Tears Down 3D Printed House, Immensa Gets $20M
The city of Muscatine had an ambitious plan to construct 10 3D printed homes and has now torn down the first one. The Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine (CFGM), Muscatine...
Automation in 3D Printing Software: Authentise & CASTOR at formnext 2023
AM workflow software provider Authentise attended the recent formnext 2023 in Frankfurt, and I spoke to CEO Andre Wegner at the event about the company’s newest product, an engineering collaboration...
India’s Agnikul Lands $24M in Series B Funding, Fueling Space 3D Printing Innovation
In a significant development for India’s emerging space technology sector, Agnikul Cosmos has raised Rs 2 billion (roughly $24 million) in a Series B funding round. The news comes as...
Upload your 3D Models and get them printed quickly and efficiently.