3D Printing and CNC Machining Services: Why and How to Combine for Improved Output
Additive and Subtractive manufacturing are two different types of manufacturing procedures. The former, also called 3D printing has revolutionized manufacturing as whole, presenting quicker and more affordable solutions towards prototyping, design optimization and cost-effectiveness. Subtractive manufacturing majorly refers to CNC machining. This manufacturing procedure too has its own benefits. CNC machined products boast of high precision, complex geometries, excellent detailing and impeccable part finish.
As the year 2020 begins, one of the most effective ways to run production will likely involve an interweave of these two technologies. With additive manufacturing, designers and engineers can make use of the residue from CNC operations and reduce material waste. But that’s only one benefit of combining these technologies. Let’s find out what the other pros of combining 3D printing and CNC machining holds!
1. Start with 3D, finish with CNC
3D printing and CNC machining both use digital files that can be exported and imported for use within either platforms. By using both CNC and 3D printing, you can explore many design options by starting off on the limitless 3D printing platform and export your file to a CNC network for printing and finishing.
With this, CNC designers are no longer constrained by the design parameters that may limit creativity when operating only conventional machining processes.
2. Producing larger parts with complex internal geometries
3D printing allows designers and engineers excellent design freedom that may be otherwise unattainable with other manufacturing methods. For instance, latticing objects to be produced is very difficult and may be almost impossible to achieve with CNC machining. With 3D printing, large parts with low weight can be manufactured. When all of this is combined with CNC machining, experts can exploit the design freedom available to achieve small parts with dimensional stability, material savings. If you need a large part of your design, you can simply 3D print your object with the high-quality design and have a hybrid machine commence finishing or secondary operations on the CNC part of the machine.
3. Save time and resources
As earlier noted, 3D printing can complement CNC machining in the aspect of material savings and resource optimization. In subtractive manufacturing, the machine chips away at a solid workpiece, removing the unneeded parts till a final object structure is attained. By combining 3D printing and CNC machining services, material shavings from the CNC process can be used by 3D printers to make other end parts. Today, there are machines (hybrids) that combine both additive and subtractive manufacturing that allow optimization of time and resources during manufacturing. A combination of these technologies will also result in lesser cost as parts that would otherwise be created individually and assembled can be designed in one go through the design simplicities of 3D printing.
Additionally, combining 3D printing with CNC machining will deliver in an overall faster time than other manufacturing methods like injection molding. Using 3D printing also allows for on-the-go corrections to design and immediate implementation on CNC machines. Injection molding techniques on the other hand require detailed tooling for each part that will see through the production process. These tools are physical copies that can only be modified by reproduction if an error arises.
4. Achieving improved quality finishes
As amazing as 3D printing can be, surface texture and finish remains an area for improvement when compared to conventional machining. By combining additive and subtractive manufacturing for any project, you can leverage the faster turnaround time of 3D printing to land your product and look to CNC machining to provide finishing touches that will make your part’s surface excellent.
5. Prototype efficiently
Both CNC machining and 3D printing can be used for prototyping. Depending on what is important to your part, a combination of 3D printing and CNC machining can help you to save cost, design boundlessly and produce final prototypes while mitigating all the risks of failure.
For instance, you may elect to prototype with 3D printing and run major tests on these prototypes. This will help you save cost in the design and testing stage. Because of how 3D designs are created, simple errors and modifications can be corrected in the product by instantly making changes to the digital design file. On conclusion of your tests, you may then switch to CNC machining to manufacture your final parts that will have remarkable structural integrity and design precision all ready for entry into the intended market.
6. Achieving tighter tolerances
3D printers are still for the larger part unable to deliver parts with tight tolerances and stable dimensions. This is due to the heat generation in the printing that may sometime lead to warping of the workpieces in critical areas such as the walls and edges. CNC machines on the other hand, have more consistent and resilient production processes that often results in high-quality end-use parts with tighter tolerances. By using CNC machining and 3D printing, designers can get the best of both worlds. The latter allows for on-the-fly rapid prototyping while the former allows you to achieve more tolerance than 3D printers can render. The outcome? A more reliable prototype machined to precision.
Firstpart 3D Printing Solutions
Firstpart offers a wide range of 3D printing solutions for both personal, commercial and industrial uses. Choose from a variety of printing options, filaments and finishes to produce high-quality parts that are suitable as production parts, prototypes or end-use devices. By simply contacting us, we can print and ship your parts to you anywhere in the world.
We invite you to work with us and take advantage of our expertise in combining additive and subtractive manufacturing technologies for excellent product output. At Firstpart, we can help to optimize the performance of your design by including aesthetically-pleasing and highly-functional 3D design models that ensures an improved overall part performance and combine the machining efficiency of CNC machines for attention-arresting outcomes. Click here to request a free quote or click here to contact us now and get started with your project!