USING TECHNOLOGY TO ITS FULLEST POTENTIAL
Quickly establishing its role in the manufacturing industries, 3D printing has gone from being a novelty to an essential part of research and development for many enterprises. CNC Machining is a subtractive form of manufacturing, cutting away from a block of material – typically aluminum – to create the finished product, while 3D printing is an additive method. Thermoplastics and other polymers are fed into a printer and extruded through a nozzle, building the design layer by layer. Offering a number of advantages to traditional manufacturing, 3D printing technology brings an entirely new level of customization to precision machining.
USES AND BENEFITS OF 3D PRINTING
Although CNC machining is a very versatile method of manufacturing, it requires specialized knowledge and skilled designers and programmers. 3D printing, however, is much simpler to use, providing adaptable solutions with a number of applications in the manufacturing process.
- PROTOTYPES When companies are developing new products, especially those with complex geometries, 3D printing offers an effective way to test product prototypes. This allows for rapid changes as companies are testing various tweaks to the design.
- QUANTITIES In many cases, it can be more economical to manufacture single items or small batch quantities of end-use products using 3D printing. Printing parts on demand allows companies to lower their overall replacement costs with a quicker turnaround time.
- COST For lower quantities as well as for design development, 3D printing is a less expensive production method when compared to CNC machining. Not only are the raw materials less expensive, but your personnel costs are lowered because of the skill and experience level required at this stage of the process.
- TIME Since there are less parts to set up on a 3D printer, companies can also save time on the manufacturing line, printing parts on demand as design changes are made during prototyping. This allows for the R&D process to progress more quickly, saving both time and money during the research phase. Also, since there is less tooling and set up time, small quantities can be printed easily, freeing up machinery for larger product runs.
- WASTE More environmentally sensitive when compared to CNC machining, 3D printing only uses the amount of product necessary, since the material is extruded layer by layer to build the design as opposed to a blank piece of material that is loaded into a CNC machine and cut away to create the product.
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WHEN TO TURN TO CNC MACHINING
Here’s where well-rounded manufacturing capabilities are important. In some instances, CNC machining will just be the better solution. It is important that companies recognize these situations in order to utilize the right manufacturing process.
- ACCURACY CNC machining allows for reductions in tolerances from one part to the next, as well as production variances from the design to the finished product. This ensures dimensional accuracy that parts, especially those with complex geometry are manufactured at the same size and quality, every time.
- QUANTITIES The repeatability offered by CNC machining is unmatched. Creating identical pieces time after time, this is especially important for large-volume production. Producing products at scale much more effectively than 3D printing, CNC machining can utilize a number of different production mediums that may be cost-prohibitive with 3D printing.
- FINISH CNC provides a high-quality surface finish without the need for post-production handing that is necessary when items are created on a 3D printer.
Used in tandem, 3D machining and CNC machining create a well-rounded workflow that allows companies to continually advance their product offerings and meet the unique needs of their clients, whether Aerospace and Defense Departments or Oil and Gas Industries. At Coastal Machine & Supply, our services continually meet the needs of our clients, utilizing a number of manufacturing methods that will bring us to the next frontier of design and manufacturing. Trusted by clients across the United States and internationally, we combine the best available technology and equipment to ensure that our clients needs are met with unmatched service.