In prototype proofing production, 3D printing and CNC machining are the two most commonly used methods. But manufacturing is different, one is additive manufacturing and the other is a subtractive approach – how you determine the right manufacturing method is critical to streamlining product development, achieving greater efficiency, and ultimately achieving higher quality parts. The following Proto will be introduced to you.

When determining the right process for your sample, the first thing to consider is the differences between the technologies. Consider the following tips:

  1. What is your production volume?The economics of choosing 3D printing or machining can often boil down to the amount of production for a particular use case, and the number of parts you need to produce. When a small number of parts are needed (less than 100 parts), it is okay to choose 3D printing, and CNC machining is considered when you have medium production (less than 1000 parts). For a small number of highly complex custom parts, it is cheaper and faster to 3D print them instead of using CNC machining.
  2. How important is geometric complexity?When it comes to geometric complexity, 3D printing reigns supreme. With this technology, complex geometries can be created that cannot be reproduced by other manufacturing methods. While some technologies, such as Stereolithography (SLA), may require a support structure, others such as SLS do not require a support structure at all. In addition to lightweight construction, 3D printing is ideal for the production of components as individual components and parts that require complex internal features, such as conformal cooling channels for injection molds.
  1. What materials do you need? Since CNC machining is a more mature technology, there are more compatible materials, including metals (including aluminum, stainless steel, and alloys), plastics (including ABS, nylon, polycarbonate, acrylic, and PEEK), and wood. However, when a material that is not easily machined, such as metal superalloys, titanium, or flexible TPU, 3D printing is a more sensible choice. 3D printing can also make parts using thermoplastics (including ABS, PLA, and nylon), resins, ceramics, and metals.

In many cases, the two technologies work well together, and while CNC has advantages in achieving high dimensional accuracy, 3D printing can reduce production costs, enable low-volume production, provide greater design freedom, and provide faster turnaround times. By combining the advantages of both methods, parts with complex shapes can be 3D printed and then machined to achieve tighter tolerances and a smoother surface.

Whether you choose 3D printing or CNC machining for prototype proofing depends on a range of factors, including the material required, part complexity, throughput, budget, and timeline. However, sometimes it may be more than just choosing one or the other – adopting a hybrid approach can help reduce manufacturing time and costs while enabling a more streamlined production process.

The above is the analysis of whether you should choose 3D printing or CNC machining for prototype proofing introduced by PROTO, I hope it can provide you with reference.This article is

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