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How to choose a suitable method for prototyping?

How to choose a suitable method for prototyping?

The basic process of two methods:

1. CNC works on block materials and machining on the outer surface to make the block material the same with the 3D drawing.

2. 3D printing works on powder (or resin) materials. It prints a layer by a layer, the thickness is around 0.05~0.25mm.


The similarities:

1. CNC and 3D printing take less time than molding, which can also meet the demand of appearance, function or structure.

2. Various materials can be processed.

3. CNC and 3D printing can produce samples or small batches at a reasonable cost.

Then let's compare the differences from advantages and disadvantage.


 3D printing advantages:

1. Less technical requirements and less difficulty of making complex internal structural parts and less manual post-processing and the workload.

2. Can produce products of any shape directly. 

3. It uses additive manufacturing, so won't increase much cost for complicated parts. Main costs are material and machine cost.

4. Reduce processes for disassembling and splicing, which greatly shortens the manufacturing time and increases productivity.


 3D printing disadvantages:

1. Most materials' strength and hardness are not as good as those of traditional material. The materials that can be used for structure and function are relatively simple.

2. Transparent or translucent materials may be discoloration as time goes on, and easily got deformed.

3. It cannot process some materials with characteristic requirements (such as corrosion resistance or flame retardant)

4. Due to the limitation of equipment, large products are not suitable for 3D printing. 

CNC advantages:

With the rapid development of 3D printing technology, the advantages of traditional CNC processing methods are becoming less and less obvious, but it's still dominant in the prototype industry for the following reasons:

1. A wide range of materials can be processed by CNC. For functional parts with characteristic requirements, corresponding or similar materials can be found on the market to meet production need.

2. It is suitable for processing some large parts. From the perspective of cost, it is much lower than the cost of 3D printing. Now due to the mature application of materials and adhesives, the strength of parts will not be affected after spliced.

3. Various surface treatments can be directly performed after CNC processed or manual post-process needed, and the effect is close to or even higher than the product itself.


 CNC disadvantages:

1. It is difficult and time-consuming to process small and complex parts, and difficult to process the details.

2. There are many process flow. Compared with 3D printing, the drawings need to be disassembled, programmed, machined, and the parts must be angled, deburred and spliced.

3. Long processing cycle, large manual processing workload, which prolong production time.


Based on the above comparison, it can be seen that CNC is more suitable for processing large parts with relatively simple structure, and 3D printing is mainly suitable for making thin-walled parts with various complicated structures and appearances.

Regardless of the processing method, customers should consider according to their actual needs (products' size, material characteristic, complexity, cost budget, etc.), hope we can help you.