What is the difference between 3D printing and CNC machining

In recent years, the topic of 3D printing has become more and more. It has been gradually applied in medical, automotive, animation, mold and handicraft industries. What is the difference between them and traditional CNC processing?

About 3D Printing:

3D printing belongs to the field of add-on manufacturing and is also a concept of technology co-ordination, which has a history of nearly 30 years. The so-called co-ordination means that 3D printing includes a variety of additive manufacturing technologies, such as FDM, SLA, SLS and so on. Although there are many types of technology, but the principle is basically similar, that is, layers of superimposed materials to create things. It's similar to building a brick wall. It's just that the brick may be solid or liquid.
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About CNC Machining:

Computerized Numerical Control is abbreviated as CNC. The principle of CNC machining is to cut and process the whole material into the specified shape of the product, which is also called material reduction manufacturing.

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The Difference between CNC machining and 3D printing :

CNC technology is the mainstream technology in prototype manufacturing. At present, 3D printing can only be considered as a minority, there are more opportunities in the future, but the road to go is still relatively long.

1. Material Utilization Rate
3D printing is a little better. If support is not needed, 3D printing will obviously save more material. If support is used, the materials saved by 3D printing are also limited compared with CNC technology.

2. Forming complexity
Both of them can accomplish complex modeling, and 3D printing can accomplish more complex. It can be said that all the models CNC can make,3D printing also can do.But the shape that 3D printing can make, CNC may not be able to do. Of course, it's not that absolute. It's only 99% of the cases.

3. Forming speed
To make the same prototype, the CNC process is faster than 3D printing. The efficiency of single or small batch production is obviously higher than that of die manufacturing.

4. Forming accuracy
The accuracy of 3D printing is generally between 0.1 mm and 0.4 mm, but CNC process is on between 0.05 mm and 0.1 mm. In terms of the upper limitation, CNC can achieve higher accuracy at present.

5. Quality of finished products
The finished products manufactured by CNC process have better mechanical properties and surface smoothness.

The CNC process is generally cheaper to make the same prototype.

7. Operation
The 3D printer is easier to operate and can be mastered in 10 minutes after training.However CNC machine tools are more difficult and require higher requirement for operators.

8. Equipment Price
Prices for 3D printers range from thousands to tens of millions. The price of CNC machine tools varies from tens of thousands to tens of millions. Comparatively speaking, CNC machine tools will be more expensive. Maintenance and repair costs are also higher.

At present, CNC prototype is better than 3D printing. However, 3D printing has obvious advantages in forming complexity, allowing designers to play more freely, and the added value of products will be higher.


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