When Should You Combine 3D Printing and CNC Machining

3D printing has changed the world of production style, assembly and manufacturing in an unprecedented way. In addition, injection molding and CNC processing are the foundation of most of the designs that reach the production style. As a result, it is often difficult to replace them with other applications. However, sometimes you can combine CNC machining with 3D printing to reaching these goals. Here's a list of these instances and how it's done.


When you want to achieve your project

Most companies combine these two technologies to get things done quickly. It is faster to create prototypes using CAD files in processing than to generate tools used in injection molding. However, 3D offers some creative flexibility to improve their product design. To take advantage of these two processes, engineers can create CAD or cam files for 3D printing. Once they have the right design (after improvement), they will improve the parts through machining. In this way, they will use the best features of each technology.


When you want to reach the requirements of CNC machining tolerance and functional accuracy

One of the areas where 3D printing is still developing is tolerance. Modern printers cannot provide high precision when printing parts. Although the tolerance of printer can be as high as 0.1mm, the accuracy of CNC machine can reach 0.025mm. In the past, if you want to create parts or products that need high precision, you must use CNC machines.


Reduce production links and the Parts cost

The traditional manufacturing industry uses the technology of "reduced material manufacturing", with the help of CNC machine tools, through turning, milling, planing and hinge cutting methods, to remove the excess material on the base metal and get the designed parts. Some parts have complex structure, even need to process tooling and develop mold to complete. On the contrary, 3D printing does not need the task of mold and metal processing, which saves the complex process of mold making and development, and also omits the capital investment. More importantly, 3D printing can directly generate complex parts, omitting the time-consuming and labor-consuming process in machining, greatly reducing the time of R & D and trial production, and improving the production efficiency.


Save manufacturing cost. In the traditional manufacturing industry, the more complex the parts are, the longer the processing time is, and the higher the manufacturing cost is. Compared with 3D printing, manufacturing a complex shape part does not cost more time and skills than making a cylinder. Making complex parts without increasing cost will change the pricing mode of traditional manufacturing process. Secondly, in the traditional manufacturing industry, complex parts often need more complex machinery and equipment, which increases the investment in fixed assets and requirement.


There are several examples when you can combine 3D printing with CNC machining to achieve such goals as reducing costs and improving production speed and accuracy. The application of these two technologies in the production process depends on the product and the final product.



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