How to choose between CNC and 3D printing

Views:3     Author:Site Editor     Publish Time: 2019-07-26      Origin:Site

Seleotypes require multiple parts – some for the housing, others for parts of the mechanism. For each individual part, we must make a choice: Between CNC and 3D printing.

CNC and 3D printing manufacturer

Select CNC and 3d printing according to Material

At Creative Mechanisms, we only use ABS material in our 3D printer. In fact, ABS is our material of choice for the overwhelming majority of everything we make. If we determine that a part should be made in any other material, we will CNC cut the part in that other material.


The primary reason for using a different material would be part function. If a part needs to flex or bend – such as with snaps or living hinges – we make that part out of a different material. If the part has a snap feature, we usually use a Nylon material; living hinges and other parts that require a


 lot of movement are usually made from polypropylene. Gears are something else that we always cut with a CNC machine, using Nylon or Delrin because those materials have natural lubricating properties.

CNC machining

Select CNC and 3D printing according to Surface Finish

CNC machining produces a smoother surface finish than 3D printing. If you need a really smooth surface finish, whether for aesthetics or function, we’ll CNC cut the part as opposed to printing it.


The choice for aesthetics, however, usually comes down to cost – 3D printing is less expensive and will suffice, but if the need for a smooth finish is important, it’s more economical to use CNC cutting. This is because, while the 3D printing will work, you’ll have to do extra work to get your part as smooth as it would automatically get with CNC cutting, making any cost savings minimal.


When it comes to function, any parts that come into contact with each other must have as little friction as possible. For parts that need smooth surface to eliminate friction, we’ll usually cut the part as opposed to printing it.

3D printing factory

Select CNC and 3D printing according to Machining in-house

If the part is needed immediately, there are no other holdups to the operation, and you have a machine, operator, materials, and workholding available, you should CNC machine your part. If there are more urgent jobs, or the part can wait, 3D printing can usually get you a part in hand the next day, freeing up operator time for more critical tasks.


CNC machining usually is capable of removing material much faster than 3D printing can deposit it. Size usually does not play into the time constraint as much for machining; the amount of material removal required is much more critical. If the part volume/stock volume ratio is very low (material removal is high), 3D printing may be a good option.


With 3D printing, the part size does affect time; larger parts take longer to print. if a part fits in the palm of your hand, you can usually have it the same day. With smaller parts, it can often be faster to 3D print than to machine. With a CNC machine you have to spend time getting stock, writing G-code, figuring out work holding, setting up tools, and cleaning up after. Some parts can print in the time it takes just to get a CNC machine ready.


Select CNC and 3D printing according to Machining out-of-house

The process of outsourcing machined parts to CNC machining services generally needs many days at minimum, between half review, making drawings, causing out for quote, and reviewing with getting. This, and shipping and time interval from the search, will generally lead to a really extended method. Printing, during this case, could also be an acceptable thanks to check work and end or have {a half|a neighborhood|an area|a district|a region|a locality|a vicinity|a section} prepared subsequent day whereas a permanent part is being cut.


There are not any onerous and quick rules here – you wish to guage each half. generally machining a section is faster than printing and generally it’s contrariwise. If we’re terribly busy, we have a tendency to sometimes lay aside all the elements that require to induce run throughout the day and print everything long. for easy elements, it’s usually a lot of expedient simply to chop the half so as to stay the duty moving.


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