Posts Tagged: 3D Printing


Unique Advantages of Subtractive Manufacturing

Subtractive ManufacturingAdditive manufacturing, better known as 3D Printing, first started in the 1980s. Back then, it was a novelty concept reserved for advanced engineering research laboratories. In the 1990s, 3D printing made waves in the medical arena thanks to its ability to create custom medical devices. By the early 2000s, the open-source movement brought 3D printing into the homes of hobbyists and entrepreneurs During this time, people hailed it as the future of all manufacturing. It remains a promising technology, but subtractive manufacturing still offers many advantages over 3D printing.

Subtractive manufacturing techniques are those that remove material from a block to make a 3D part.

They are what we might call traditional manufacturing processes like milling, turning and even injection molding. Additive manufacturing processes, on the other hand, build up 3D parts by successively adding layers of material.

Although the cost for 3D printers continues to decrease, it’s still more expensive to 3D print many parts than it is to machine them. The printers themselves can be cost competitive, but the materials used in 3D printers are costly – especially if metals are involved.

Printing a part is a little bit like making pancakes – the first one usually gets tossed in the trash. This constitutes a waste of high-cost materials. Furthermore, 3D printers are more finicky and require frequent calibration and re-calibration when they’ve sat unused or when operators are swapping materials.

3D printed parts also require additional post-processing to achieve attractive surface finishes.

The additive component of the manufacturing process means pieces right out of a 3D printer have striations and stepped edges around radiuses. These surfaces require a subtractive manufacturing process to finish. Most subtractive manufacturing processes can produce finished surfaces.

Even if the striated surfaces of additive manufacturing is acceptable, 3D printer technology remains less reliable than subtractive manufacturing. High-reliability machines with good repeatability are expensive and require frequent maintenance while low-end devices typically cannot produce parts with consistent quality.

3D printing can be appealing for prototypes, but it is often limited to fit-and-feel prototypes. Because there are limited 3D printing materials available and the final mechanical properties are not always as good as those for machined parts, 3D-printed parts may not be robust or accurate enough for testing purposes. So, it sometimes makes sense to prototype with subtractive manufacturing processes and production materials instead.

Generally, subtractive manufacturing techniques are more familiar to designers.

Many designers even rely on certain functions that are common in CNC mills and lathes. For these folks, 3D printing can add cost for no discernible benefit. And with many machine shops capable of producing parts overnight using traditional techniques, the relative speed of 3D printing is rendered moot.

While additive manufacturing is attractive in some applications, good old milling, turning and molding are often better suited for the job at hand.


CNC Machining Vs. 3D Printing

CNC Machining Vs. 3D Printing

 

CNC Machining and 3D printing methods are two forms of object manufacturing that draw a lot of comparisons, although they operate very different from each other. For example, CNC machining is programmed to manufacture an object by carving a material to a desired object shape, while 3D printing builds an object via layers.

While both printing methods are very different, we have outlined some advantages and disadvantages for CNC Machining and 3D printing.

Under CNC Machining (or CNC milling), a customized computer program is created for the manufacturing of an object, while accurately controlling several factors such as feed rate, location, coordination and speeds. Using CNC programming the computer program better controls exact positioning which ultimately leads to the highest standard of accuracy. Not only is CNC Machining precise, it is also very easy for repetitive manufacturing while also maintaining accuracy.

Another perk to CNC Machining is how it can work with a large variety of materials such as plastic, metal, wood and wax as well as several others.

CNC machining is faster than 3D printing. CNC machining creates an object by cutting away material to create an object, while 3D printing works by reducing an object via tiny layers until it creates the shape of an object. The process of 3D printing can’t be sped up, so when it comes to manufacturing speed CNC milling has the upper hand.

CNC milling has a higher level of quality settings. When you’re in the prototype stage, sometimes it’s nice to complete a task with speed rather than accuracy to speed up the development phase of a project, which is a big benefit to CNC milling.

With 3D printing, one must endure the slow production of a product layer by layer, which really slows down the prototype research and development phase.

Another downside to 3D printing is that it requires a larger workforce to design operate and maintain product production. Couple this with the higher setup costs, and 3D printing becomes inferior to CNC Machining.

CNC Masters can help if you’re looking for a way to take your manufacturing business to the next level. With our professional CNC milling machines, there’s no need to invest in more floor space for your business or hobby. For more information on any of the products we offer, contact us today!