The Advantages of 3D printing in 2021
Three-dimensional (3D) Printing is often considered to be the opposite of CNC machining. This is because while CNC machining uses computerized commands to remove parts of a workpiece till the final part is formed, 3D printing creates parts by building up the object layer by layer.
3D printing uses a type of technology called additive manufacturing, while CNC machining is a form of subtractive manufacturing.
Today, 3D printing is very widespread. This is chiefly due to its cost-savings, speed and availability; 3D printers are widely available in both small and large sizes. 3D printers allow for direct printing of a finished product straight from a computer model. And while it is very unlikely to replace CNC machines and other traditional manufacturing methods, it may yet become a staple in most small and medium businesses. 3D Printers will also serve immensely well in rapid prototyping, and understanding its advantages will allow many product designers to make better selections when contemplating which manufacturing procedure is best-suited to their needs.
The speed at which additive manufacturing can produce end-use parts is often far superior when compared to traditional machining techniques. In only a matter of hours, products designs can be transformed from ordinary digital models to real life tangible products by simply printing a 3D CAD model.
Where traditional machining will deliver a prototype in days or weeks at times, 3D printing will deliver prototype and physical iterations in a matter of hours. The extensive benefits of the speed of additive manufacturing are mostly felt when producing functional low-mid volume quantities. The speed of 3D printing thus offers reasonable time-savings, allowing for rapid prototyping and design evaluation in a matter of hours.
Additive manufacturing techniques are generally more affordable than conventional machining and production processes. Production costs typically include material, labor and operational overheads. Because most 3D printers consume about the same amount of energy as laptops, the operational cost for additive manufacturing is relatively lower. Also, most 3D printing jobs will require no assembly as the part is usually printed as a single unit. This consequently reduces the labor cost that will be incurred for assembly. When working with 3D printers, there is no real labor associated with the production. Asides from the need for an expert post-production, the labor overheads for 3D printing when compared to traditional machining where experts and skilled machinists are required is almost zero.
For small and mid-scale production, 3D printing should remain the more cost-effective approach. However, as the volume increases, traditional machining will be most cost-effective in the long run.
Depending on what you plan to manufacture, prototypes can be very expensive to obtain. Traditionally, prototypes will cost both time and money to produce. Conventional manufacturing may require dies, tooling and molds to be prepared and a slight deviation from specifications may have large, painstaking financial impacts. 3D printing helps to mitigate the risk of developing faulty prototypes and offers immediate hands-on design iteration and evaluation. The ability to print prototypes and evaluate their suitability before mass manufacture cannot be overemphasized and 3D printing is one of the most feasible techniques for rapid prototyping and risk mitigation.
4. Freedom to design
The limitations to 3D printing such as minimum size features are far less significant when compared to those around traditional machining. When using conventional methods, issues in producing parts with complex geometries often arise. Oftentimes, there would be complaints about shaping, tool access, draft angles and undercuts. In 3D printing however, the final part is produced from the ground-up, one layer at a time. What this means is that designers have unrestricted freedom to design, with the confidence that the final part will be achieved and output to perfection. Parts with very complex geometries can be created digitally and sent to a 3D printer for output without worrying about loss of functionality, aesthetics or ergonomics.
5. Sustainability and Accessibility
3D printing and other additive manufacturing processes are highly sustainable and will minimize material waste to the barest minimum. While subtractive technologies such as CNC machining remove a part of the material to obtain the final part, 3D printing builds the part of the ground-up. 3D printing therefore, only utilizes the exact amount of materials required for the part. Most additive manufacturing processes also re-use raw materials and recycle them for the production of more than one build.
3D printers are also very widely available. Having been around for 30 years, the technology has been revolutionized and multiple models of 3D printers are now available for purchase at diverse price ranges. Today, depending on the size and functionality, you too can own a 3D printer at a significantly lesser cost compared to owning a traditional production equipment
6. Single-step manufacture
Product designers strive to avoid producing products with multiple parts. One of the biggest advantages of 3D printing is its one-step manufacturing. This allows manufacturing to be completed at a single go, avoiding the need for part assembly. As soon as the design is concluded, the CAD file is pushed to the 3D printer which then prints the final design in a number of hours.
Single-step manufacture greatly trims costs and reduces the dependence on a number of manufacturing processes such as welding or machining. In some cases, having a single product may guarantee that the final product is stronger than one that is welded or joined at numerous points.
Premium Parts 3D printing Services in China
At Premium Parts, we offer high-quality 3D printing and CNC machining services that are optimized for the production of many precision parts. Our expertise range across a number of services and we can generate exceptional quality products with a quick turnaround. We can work with an extensive range of materials and produce both mass manufacture volumes and low-volume manufacturing. From CNC machining to 3D printing and rapid injection molding, our engineers are highly experienced to deliver best-in-class manufacturing quality and standards.