CNC Machines vs. 3D Printing: What’s the Difference?

Machines are the first decision all professional designers will make. It is basically predicated on a lot of variables that process works best for your projects. Machines are also the number one debate when it comes to prototyping, CNC machining, and 3D printing.

CNC machining is a proven subtractive technique for creating products, while 3D printing is a growing technology or a 21st-century upgrade over outdated manufacturing methods. The best way to determine the difference between the two machines is to review the tales of the tape and narrow down to the following points:

  • Ease of Use

It is easy to use 3D printing when compared to CNC machining. Once you prepare the files, you will have to choose the orientation part, fill materials, and offer your machine support. Immediately printing starts, you will not have to supervise and leave the printer until the part is complete.

However, CNC machines are a more labor-intensive process. You will also have to be around so as to choose between speeds of tools and repositioning of the material. Some post-processing methods need more time.

  • Material Availability

Tools like X-Carve CNC Machine may deal with a wide range of materials, including modeling foam, wax, metal alloys, thermoplastics, wood, and acrylics, just to name a few. Beyond that, CNC machining can also be simple to adapt to utilizing new materials.

In contrast, 3D printers only deal with a limited number of materials, using polymers, plastics, and metals. Unlike CNC machines, 3D printers cannot deal with metals that have high melting points.

  • Workflow

When it comes to CNC, a professional engineer or operator needs to consider spindle speed, tool selection, and cutting path. All these factors greatly affect the build time and quality of final products. The process is labor-intensive since you will have to manually set up the black part in the machine.

On the other hand, 3D printing will need you to prepare digital files and send them to your machine. Though once the printing is complete, you will also have to process and clean the part.

  • Size

CNC routers can scale between small and large outputs. The scale of output your router produces depends on the ability of equipment and the raw materials you use during production.

As for 3D printing machines, you will use an additive, making them ill-suited for big product production. Existing technology in 3D printing is scaled to customize items and create small objects.

  • Price

Generally, 3D printers are cheaper options when you need to manufacture small quantities – normally less than 50. The fact that 3D printers are a faster option makes them convenient for rapid prototyping.

Though if you are dealing with a lot of orders, CNC machines are more cost-effective. Because the machine uses an assembly line approach with all components you create, it can be a great option when it comes to mass production.

Final Thoughts!

The reason for knowing the difference between a 3D printer and a CNC machine is not to determine which technology is better than the other. Both the machines are reliable in the manufacturing industry.

They also have their pros and cons, making them almost equal to most big and small businesses alike.