CNC Machining Or 3D Printing: Which Is Better?

If you need to manufacture a large number of identical components, you will likely want to use a computer program to do so. A computer program eliminates all margins of error and helps you create multiple, identical objects with zero variation in design. However, there are a couple of different computer models that might interest you. The first is CNC or Computer Numerical Control. The second is 3D printing. Each offers unique benefits, but your individual project will likely determine which is best for you. Consider the following before making your decision. 

How They Differ

The most obvious difference between CNC machining and 3D printing is the way they create objects. A CNC machine takes a raw block of material and sculpts it using routers, mills, grinders, and lathes. A 3D printer, on the other hand, starts with nothing. It uses filament material to create or print an object from scratch. Both work off of similar software and code that is easy to manipulate via computer screen. The interface is much like CAD, where you can easily manipulate variables with a click of the mouse. 

Types of Materials Used

CNC machines and 3D printers vary greatly when it comes to the types of materials you can use. Since CNC machines sculpt all sorts of raw materials, you can use just about anything. Common materials used in CNC machining include, wood, acrylic, foam, wax, aluminum, copper, steel, and so forth. Printers of the 3D variety are limited when it comes to the types of material that can be used. Any material used has to fall into one of two categories: thermoplastic or resin. While you may be able to mix particles of metal and sawdust with the materials, you will not get a truly wooden or metal object. 

Design Limitations of Each

CNC machines cannot usually create objects with small internal pieces whereas 3D printers can. When it comes to precision, CNC machines usually perform better. They can also create objects faster. It can take hours for a 3D printer to build an object from scratch. You can create the same object in a lot less time with a CNC machine. 

CNC machines and 3D printers can be used for similar projects, but they are not created equally. The one that works best for your project depends largely on what type of project you want to complete and the raw materials you would like to use. For more information, contact companies like Sharp Tech Inc.