CNC Machining vs 3D Printing: Which is the Best Option for Your Part?

Posted on August 27th, 2020 | Categories News

Rapid prototyping has become an increasingly popular method to produce highly precise items within a fairly short amount of time. Two of the most common techniques are CNC machining and 3D printing. Each of these approaches has its own set of unique benefits. This can sometimes make it difficult to decide the best option for upcoming projects. Let’s take a look at a few of the differences between CNC milling and 3D printing to understand why machining could still be the best solution.

The Materials Employed

One common concern with a 3D printer is that it can only work with a handful of thermoplastics such as PLA and ABS. Those who wish to create a component from other materials such as metal or wood would then encounter problems. However, a CNC lathe can work with a wide variety of substrates. This means that CNC machines can offer more flexible solutions.

Production Time

A CNC machine is generally able to produce parts much faster when compared to 3D printing, thanks to advanced algorithms and modern techniques. 3D production techniques rely on cementing a series of layers atop one another in order to create a three-dimensional reproduction of a specific object. In contrast, CNC machining will cut away the material from a larger piece in order to achieve the same effect. CNC methods are generally preferred if time is of the essence.

Precision and Quality

One of the issues which must be overcome when creating a prototype is precision. Once again, 3D printers might not be the best option. As an item is created layer by layer, the object will often need to be further refined after the initial printing process has been completed. Another possible issue involves the fact that 3D printing might require each layer to be tested for quality control purposes before moving on. This is obviously not the best solution if you are pressed for time.

However, modern CNC machining services are much more flexible in terms of user options. For example, it is possible to adjust levels of precision for different parts of a product. This can help to save a great deal of time and to make sure that further refinements are not needed.

Putting it All Together

The history of CNC prototyping can be traced as far back as 1952. 3D printing has only recently entered into the marketplace and there are indeed times when 3D production is preferred. However, those who are concerned about efficiency and quality will normally prefer to employ CNC services.

The team at TK Fabrications has been providing quality products since 1979. This reputation continues to attract customers into the present day. If you would like to learn more about our services or if you need advice about an upcoming project, feel free to contact us at your convenience.