Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Which is Better, CNC or 3D Printing? The Difference between CNC Machining and 3D Printing

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CNC machining and 3D printing are two common processing techniques. There are similarities and differences between them. Both of them have their own advantages and will bring benefits to the manufacturing process, but which one is best for you needs? Junying Metal Manufacturing Co., Ltd (www.cnclathing.com) is the top manufacturing company in China has more than decades of experience in 3D printing and CNC manufacturing services. Here are a few tips that Junying want to share with you and these tips may help you choose the best method for your business.

Things To Consider Before Selecting a Manufacturing Process

What factors to take into account when determining the fabrication method? As an engineer or designer, it is difficult to choose one manufacturing process to create a prototype or part. All processing techniques have their own steps and advantages. However, there are some factors that you need to consider before you select a manufacturing process.

1. Mode of Manufacturing

The biggest difference between CNC machining and 3D printing is the mode of manufacturing. CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing process, which creates parts by removing materials from a block of metal, plastic, or wood to get the finished product with the desired shape. while 3D printing is a additive manufacturing process, it creates parts by adding raw material layer by layer until the product is completed.

2. Type of Materials

Both CNC machining and 3D printing can works with a wide range of materials, from metals to plastics, or other materials. However, metals are more widely used in CNC machining because there are different tools like drills and lathes that can cut through metals easily. 3D printers are commonly used with plastics. Now 3D printers can also print metals, but printers that can print metals are expensive and they are always more expensive than many CNC machines. Apart from the most often used materials, there are others such as woods, acrylic, thermoplastics, and other options that may be used for CNC milling, as well as composites, wax, and ceramics for 3D printing. Additionally, some materials are difficult to be processed can only be made by 3D printing.

As a result, while selecting a manufacturing method, we should collaborate with a team of competent engineers and designers who can assist us in determining which manufacturing process is optimal for the material.

3. Cost

When it comes to the cost, 3D printing is generally cheaper than CNC machining services. This is because the material used for 3D printing is cheaper than the material used for CNC machines. The cost also relates to the mode of manufacturing. Subtractive manufacturing process leads to more waste of raw materials than additive manufacturing process. CNC machining often has material left over after the manufacturing process, and sometimes the material left over can’t be reused. While 3D printing only uses the material it needs to make the product. So less waste makes 3D printing more economical than CNC machining.

Besides, we also need to consider how many parts each technique can produce cost-effectively when selecting the manufacturing process between the two technologies.

Characteristics and Advantages of CNC Machining and 3D Printing

1. Precision of Production

CNC machining has many advantages. Precision is one of these advantages–the error on each axis is only a few microns, which means high surface accuracy can be achieved without additional machining. CNC machining is also generally superior to 3D printing in terms of tolerances, as it does not require a heat treatment and reprocessing.

2. Size

CNC machining has comparatively few size constraints; tiny or big components may be machined correctly by CNC machines. In comparison to CNC machining, 3D printing has a comparatively modest maximum part size.

3. Shape

CNC machining is not able to manufacture the parts with complex geometric shapes because of the subtractive manufacturing process it uses. While 3D printing can produce parts with complex geometric shapes.  When complex geometric shapes are required, we should switch to 3D printing.

Conclusions – Which is Better, CNC or 3D Printing?

In general, there is no perfect technique works for all applications. Both 3D printing services and CNC are very effective and have their own strengths and drawbacks, 3D printing can help us minimize or completely eliminate the structural constraints, but 3D printing could not satisfy the tolerances that high-precision products required. CNC machining could provide tight tolerance but can’t produce parts with complex geometric shapes. So combining the advantages of 3D printing and CNC machining to produce parts is often faster and more cost effective. If you are not sure which manufacturing method to use for your product, please contact Junying Metal Manufacturing Co., Ltd. We will provide excellent work that helps you get the correct products for your project. Junying Metal Manufacturing Co., Ltd offers the following services for our customers:

  1. Plastic 3D Printing & Metal 3D Printing
  2. Prototype Machining & custom machined parts
  3. Precision CNC Machining & Tooling & mold make Services
  4. Sheet Metal Prototyping & Sheet Metal Fabrication Service

If you want to learn more about our services, please visit our company website at: www.cnclathing.com

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