3D Printing Vs Injection Molding – What Is The Difference Between 3D Printing And Injection Molding


3D printing and injection molding are two common processing techniques, but their process principles are indeed different. According to your project requirements, these two technologies can help you make and produce quickly. They all have their own advantages and both of them will bring benefits to your manufacturing process, which is why it is necessary to understand the differences between them. So in this guide, we analyze the difference between 3D printing vs injection molding from many aspects. 


What Is Injection Molding

Injection molding refers to the method that the plastic material is completely melted by screw stirring at a certain temperature, injected into the mold cavity with high pressure, and then cooled and solidified to get molded products. It is generally suitable for mass production of some simple objects with high production efficiency. This process began in 1920s, and has a history of nearly 100 years. It is a very widely used and mature industrial manufacturing technology.


What Is 3D Printing

3D printing is a rapid prototyping technology, which is based on digital model file, using powder metal / plastic and other adhesive materials to construct objects by layer printing. Using a 3D printer, you can produce parts without creating a mold. You only need a 3D printing model file, and there are many different 3D printing technologies and materials to choose from in the market.

Injection Molding Vs 3D Printing - Difference Between Injection Molding And 3D Printing

1. Production Mode

– As long as there are injection molds in injection molding process, standardized products can be produced on a low cost and large scale. Therefore, injection molding is still the best choice for traditional mass and large-scale manufacturing.

– The 3D printer does not need traditional tools, fixtures, machine tools or any mold. It can automatically, quickly, directly and accurately transform any shape of the computer into a physical model. Thanks to the characteristics of 3D printer which is very different from traditional injection molding process, the more complex the non solid object, the faster the processing speed, The more the cost of raw materials is saved, so it is good at manufacturing personalized and diversified products.


2. Manufacturing Cost

Due to the wide availability of raw materials for injection molding, the characteristics of large-scale and rapid standardized production are also conducive to reducing the cost of a single product. Therefore, in terms of manufacturing cost, the cost of injection molding is far lower than that of 3D printing technology.

– However, for industrial manufacturing, the real cost saving link of 3D printing lies in the modification of the prototype, which only needs to modify the CAD model without any manufacturing cost.

– In injection molding, if the prototype is steel mold, the modification cost will be relatively low, but if the use of aluminum alloy mold tools, the cost will be much higher. This is also the reason why many enterprises or individuals engaged in mold design will choose creative 3D printer for mold design and printing.


3. Application Fields

– At present, the injection molding process can realize the mass production of uniform shape items, so it is very suitable for the mass production of standardized products.

– 3D printing only needs to input 3D images through the control terminal, which can print raw materials into physical models, or even directly manufacture parts or molds, thus effectively shortening the product development cycle. 3D printers for 3D production have been widely used in maker, architectural design, mold model design and other fields.


What Are Advantages Of 3D Printing Vs Injection Molding

The advantages of injection molding:

Injection molding has great advantages. It can be produced in large quantities with high precision and perfect repeatability. When using plastic injection molding, you can choose from a variety of materials. There can be thousands of variations for each material through additives, each of which leads to different characteristics. 

Injection molding can not only produce mass production, but also create very detailed details. Because of the repeatability of the process, it is very easy to meet the requirements of injection molded parts. Injection molding makes it very easy to manufacture stronger parts. In fact, the injection molding process can use fillers in the injection mold.


The advantages of 3D printing:

3D printing makes it a true complement to traditional manufacturing techniques. First of all, 3D printing is very suitable for product iteration. For a long time, 3D printing has been considered as a rapid prototyping technology. This is no longer the case, because it has also become a reliable manufacturing technology. However, quick and easy prototyping is still one of the best advantages provided by this manufacturing technology. When using 3D printing, you can print the project for testing, use the 3D printing modeling software to make all the modifications, and then print again to confirm the changes. The flexibility of this process will help you save time and money, but it can also help you improve your product design.

Using 3D printing also helps avoid material waste. Compared with CNC traditional processing methods, 3D printing can only use the amount of materials required for the entire project, thereby reducing the generation of waste and reducing production costs. With 3D printing, you can also improve supply chain management to avoid storage costs incurred by additional inventory.