When 3D printing was making inroads into the manufacturing process, people had foreseen a vast deal of revolution in the manufacturing arena. There were speculations that it will replace all the traditional modes of manufacturing. However, that was not to be. At least not until now. So, what has made the conventional manufacturing technologies like CNC machining still prevalent?
Well, both CNC machining and 3D printing will appear to be the two technologies in sharp contrast with one another. While one of them adds material to arrive at the final product, while the other removes the material for the same purpose.
However, we would consider them to be complementary to one another. In fact, when appropriately designed – they will work in an excellent manner when placed together. The ideal conditions where you would find them in close synergy is evident from the way parts are printed smoothly with clearly defined details by a 3D printer, while the post-processing processes are taken care of by the CNC machines. The synergy is well established with the availability and extensively spread use of hybrid 3D printer/ CNC machine combination.
Where do They Differ?
This question will arise when you use only one of the above two technologies. As we have already discussed, CNC machines do not have the finer details observed when you go with 3D printers.
The CNC machines would find a widespread usage in structural products. However, the products developed by 3D printers tend to be weaker when compared to the ones developed by CNC machines. However, 3D printing has been gathering more importance in terms of medical applications. As things stand as of now, we would find the medical equipment manufacturing prefers CNC machining the stability and durability that is expected of them, 3D printing finds itself more useful when it comes to manufacturing human tissues. The pills, tablets, and capsules can best be produced using 3D printing technology.
Another area where 3D printing has been gathering more importance is aerospace technology. In fact, most of the products and parts used in the aerospace industry tend to be complex. 3D printing is the best example where you would put both CNC machining and 3D printers in an excellent combination.
The strength of CNC machining lies in the strength that it provides to the components, while 3D printing is what excels in its ability to create complex and geometrically complex parts.
Ultimately, both the technologies are here to stay for a largely foreseeable future. Until 3D printing succeeds in providing structural stability for the products, CNC machining is here to stay alive. At the same time, 3D printing has been going through a few technological advancements.
No matter which of those tools you would want to use, we would advise you to take into account what these two technologies are capable of. At least as of now, we do not think they are competing against one another but tend to complement each other in terms of their capabilities. Use them together to extract the best functionality of your manufacturing plans and processes.