When does it make sense to use 3D printing instead of CNC machining?
Those who have a great idea for a product will most likely want to manufacture it. This can be done in multiple ways. Hire a company that functions as a CNC service and they can develop the item by CNC machining it. On the other hand, ask a 3D print service to use rapid prototyping. They will also produce your object, but with the help of 3D printing. This is a different process that can be used to develop items. When either process should be used will be explained below.
CNC machining – Subtractive manufacturing
CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing technology that is used quite a lot. This process generally starts with a solid block of material, which is usually called a blank. CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing method since it will remove material off the blank. This is done in order to achieve the required final shape, which will be created by using a mixture of sharp rotating tools or cutters. CNC is a popular method to manufacture both medium to high volume production and small one-off tasks. This is the case since this process enables you to have great repeatability, high accuracy, and to use different finishes and materials.
3D printing – Additive manufacturing
3D printing on the other hand is an additive manufacturing method. This process build products by adding material one layer at a time, which makes it completely different to CNC machining. 3D printing does not need special tooling or fixtures. Because of that, the initial setup costs are often quite low. However, a 3D printer is obviously needed for additive manufacturing. There are multiple technologies that can be used to 3D print an object, the right one depends on the model you want to print, just like with the materials.
It is important to choose correctly between CNC manufacturing and 3D printing. There are a few simple guidelines for this. For example, if low-cost is important then you will likely use 3D printing since this is cheaper for small volumes than CNC. 3D printing is the right choice anyway if you need a small amount of identical products. If a fast turn-around is essential, use 3D printing, as it will deliver faster than CNC. Some materials cannot be easily machined, so additive manufacturing will be used.
Weird things you can 3D print
Nowadays a lot of companies use custom CNC machining. This process can be used to create a variety of products. This also counts for online 3D printing, which is a completely different technique than CNC machining. CNC namely is a subtractive manufacturing process, while 3D printing is seen as an additive manufacturing technology. This is used to create many different objects. Many that have been 3D printed are quite weird and unique. Below you can find five examples of these odd objects.
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