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When Should You Combine 3D Printing and CNC Machining?

Manufacturing, assembly, and prototyping have all seen profound changes because to 3D printing. The market value of the CNC machining sector has now surpassed $81 billion, demonstrating its impressive expansion. Based on projections, this booming industry is expected to cross the $126 billion threshold by 2028.

These days, CNC machining and injection molding serve as the foundation for the majority of designs that make it to the manufacturing stage. As a result, switching to another application to replace them is frequently challenging. Nonetheless, there are a number of significant objectives that companies might accomplish with the aid of CNC machining and 3D printing.

3D Printing and CNC Machining
Image: Simon Kadula

Speed

Tasks can be completed quickly by combining these two technologies. It is far quicker to create prototypes using CAD files than it is to make injection molding tooling. Nonetheless, 3D printing offers businesses the artistic freedom to refine their product ideas. Utilizing these two procedures, engineers produce CAD or CAM files that may be used with 3D printing. When the ideal design is reached, the best of both worlds are combined to improve the product through machining and 3D printing technology advancements.

Cost Reduction
In order to obtain a competitive edge, manufacturing firms search for methods to reduce their manufacturing expenses. To cut lead times and production costs, BAE Systems, for instance, is 3D printing 30% of the parts for its new Tempest fighter jet.

One good technique to save expenses is to find substitute materials for specific parts. Materials that would not normally be used in CNC machining can now be employed by businesses thanks to 3D printing. Moreover, the 3D printer can combine materials in pellet and liquid form to produce products that are just as strong and functional as those made by CNC machines. When these two procedures are combined, businesses can utilize less expensive materials and utilize CNC machining technology to precisely cut them to the required dimensions.

Meeting Tolerance and Functional Accuracy Requirements

Current 3D printers are unable to match the high levels of accuracy that CNC machines can produce. A CNC machine can attain an accuracy of 0.025 mm, whereas current printers can print items with tolerances of about 0.1 mm. Up until now, high accuracy tolerances for parts and products were a requirement for CNC machines. Compared to 3D printing, CNC machining offers more consistency, and its machinery is less susceptible to thermal distortion, which can cause the workpiece to warp.

When these technologies are combined, engineers can produce precise goods. They can refine the tool’s design through prototyping using 3D printing technology until they achieve the ideal result. The finished product is then made by CNC machines. This guarantees not just an accurate and high-quality end result but also cuts prototyping times.

High Volume Products

When placing large orders, combining these technologies can help boost production rate. High precision parts cannot be produced by 3D printing, and CNC machining cannot match 3D printing’s speed.

The majority of businesses that use a multi-technology approach use a 3D printer to build their products and components, then a CNC machine to finish them. To do this, some machine shops integrate CNC and 3D printing technologies. Businesses can produce extremely accurate parts with significantly shorter lead times by combining these technologies.

When placing large orders, combining these technologies can help boost production rate. High precision parts cannot be produced by 3D printing, and CNC machining cannot match 3D printing’s speed.

The majority of businesses that use a multi-technology approach use a 3D printer to build their products and components, then a CNC machine to finish them. To do this, some machine shops integrate CNC and 3D printing technologies. Businesses can produce extremely accurate parts with significantly shorter lead times by combining these technologies.

3D Printing and CNC Machining

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