CNC Machining vs 3D Printing: The Advantages of CNC Machining over 3D Printing


Speaking of CNC machining, which is a different manufacturing method from 3D printing, present in working principle, cost, surface finish, and more aspects. What’s the difference between 3D printing and CNC machining? Introducing the advantages of CNC, you can have a deeper understanding of the two technologies.

What is 3D Printing?

3D Printing, also called additive manufacturing, is the process to make three dimensional solid objects according to a digital file. 3D printed product is created through depositing successive layers of the material. 3D printing is popular for manufacturing jewelry mold and custom gifts. The materials are diverse.

The Advantages of CNC Machining over 3D Printing

Why Choose CNC machining for your project? 

1. Better surface finish
CNC machines can provide a better surface finish than 3D printer, because the material will not deform in the machining process, rigid material and cutting motion keeps the part together, there is little error or deformation. While the surface finish of 3D printing is relatively poor due to the laminated heated plastic material.

  1. 2. Improved prototype integrity
    The CNC machine does not heat the material, the created component can remain better structural integrity, while the 3D printer must heat the material to build the expected product, sometimes other materials need to be added and mixed to make prototypes.
  2. 3. Prototyping is easier
    CNC machining is more suitable for prototypes that can withstand structural testing, it can build prototypes with the exact material used to create the final product. Structural tests and changes will be more accurate as they use the same material, this can speed up the production process, the change is in design rather than materials. 3D printers do not build prototypes with structural strength, so they can’t be physically tested
  3. 4. Cost-effective
    The cost of 3D printing determined by the volume of material required, but the amounts of final product do not determine the price of CNC machines, for larger volume orders, CNC machining is more cost-effective.
  4. 5. High precision
    CNC machining has higher precision, so the CNC machined parts have better tolerance than 3D printed products. Prototypes with shafts or connected to other parts will have higher quality and more likely to fit other parts.
  5. 6. Reduce cost
    If you are going to choose a manufacturing method for your products, CNC processing is usually cheaper than 3D printing, also with high efficiency, accuracy, and economy.

Difference Between 3D Printing and CNC Machining

3D printing is an additive manufacturing method, what’s the difference between additive manufacturing and CNC machining?

1. Production range. The machinable range of 3D printing technologies is larger than CNC manufacturing. 3D printing has high degree of freedom, allows it to produce difficult or impossible geometries that can’t be completed with CNC.

2. Development level. CNC processing industry has a set of mature standards, including the spindle, tool interface, and control system, but there is no such an established standard in the 3D printing field.

3. Product volume. It’s difficult for 3D printing to realize super large piece manufacturing, but CNC can handle this.

4. Process type. 3D printing is an additive manufacturing method to pile up the model, while CNC is a subtract manufacturing process that continuously cuts and removes the whole raw materials.