3D printing (additive manufacturing) refers to the fabrication of a component by adding successive layers of materials on a mould until the part is identical to a computer model. CNC machining (subtractive manufacturing) refers to the fabrication of a part by removing layers of material from an existing metal billet. A computer programme also controls subtractive machining. This article discusses why it may be better for you to specify that CNC machining should be used to make the equipment components that you need instead of using 3D printing.
The process of additive manufacturing is very slow. This is because each subsequent layer of molten material that is added onto the piece has to be given time to fuse with previous layers. CNC machining is faster because the precision machining equipment can quickly remove layers of material from a billet until the desired component is ready to be delivered to the client. Selecting 3D printing will waste a lot of your time as you wait for the components to be made.
The equipment, such as selective laser melting machines, used in additive manufacturing is very expensive to buy. That high cost may usually translates into a bigger bill to a client who ordered parts to be made using additive manufacturing. The slow rate of which the part is printed may also mean that machine operators have to be paid more for those extra hours that they spend while working on a single product. That higher labour cost also increases the final cost of the product made. CNC machining is a more affordable way to make machine parts. This is because the short production time lowers the cost of the labour involved in making that part.
Better Surface Finishes
3D printing produces parts that have rough surfaces. Such rough finishes lower the visual appeal of the component made. Extra processing of the part may be needed if those surface blemishes are to be removed. Conversely, CNC machining produces components with a smooth surface finish. You should, therefore, avoid additive manufacturing if the parts that you want have to be aesthetically appealing.
3D printing also has distinct advantages over CNC machining, such as its ability to make products with unconventional shapes. It is therefore very important for you to discuss your specific needs with a precision machining professional. That expert will recommend the method that will deliver the best results in the most cost-effective way.