Prototyping Using 3D Printing and CNC Milling Plastic Housing

May 15, 2020

When evaluating the conditions required to build a prototype laboratory, the first task is to decide between 3D printing and CNC milling plastic housing. Both options are crucial for modern manufacturing processes. Which one you choose depends on the price range, the size of the part/prototype and the type of material used.

What Is 3D Printing and CNC Milling Plastic Housing

3D Printing: The manufacturing process by which three-dimensional solids can be created. It can use a series of cumulative or layered development frameworks to create physical 3D models of objects, placing layers in turn in these frameworks to create complete 3D objects. 3D printing has increased the productivity of the manufacturing industry and has great potential. If it can be successfully used for mass production, the manufacturing industry will become more localized.

CNC Milling Plastic Housing: Computer numerical control (CNC) machines automatically control the machine tool by using software embedded in a microcomputer connected to the tool. It is commonly used in the manufacture of machined metal and plastic parts. Many people incorrectly think that CNC is expensive, thinking that this requires a highly skilled workforce.

The "3D Printing Status in 2019" report shows that manufacturers are increasingly relying on 3D printing as part of their broader manufacturing strategy, with production utilization rates as high as 38.7%, accounting for 51% of all respondents and a percentage in 2018. According to the report, eight industries are involved in the research design study: industrial products (13.6%), high technology (10.6%), services (9.9%), consumer products (8.6%), health and medical (6.2%), and automobiles (5.7 %), aerospace and defense (5.5%) and education (4.9%), illustrate the huge potential of 3D printing in supporting and benefiting from various vertical industries.

Common manufacturing processes using CNC machines include bending, drilling, drilling, gluing, grinding, laser cutting, flame and plasma cutting, milling, picking and placing, ultrasonic welding, etc. Milling machines, lathes, electrical discharge machining and water jet cutting machines are usually operated using CNC.

cnc milling plastic housing

Evaluate Additive Manufacturing and Subtractive Manufacturing Processes

According to the "Market Business News" report, in addition to eliminating the layering of the addition process, the subtraction process has other advantages. They provide a variety of surface finishes, eliminating the "stepped" surfaces that often occur in many additional processes. If the parts have to slide, surface treatment is functionally important; if prototypes are to be used in market testing, decoration is important in appearance.

Additive manufacturing has been used to produce an impressive range of products. These products are mainly used in aerospace, automotive, healthcare and product development. Although 3D printing is trending in various industries, the facts still exist. Subtractive manufacturing offers you the opportunity to design, prototype and manufacture end-use materials. For small and high-volume parts, it is a suitable choice to obtain a specific surface finish or obtain specific mechanical properties.

3D printing

Easy to Operate 3D Printer and CNC Milling Machine

Compared with CNC, 3D printing is easier to operate. Once the file is prepared, you only need to select the part orientation, fill and support. Then, once printing starts, no supervisor is required, and the printer can be left until the parts are completed.

For CNC machining, high-tech operators may be needed in the past, but now, machine tool manufacturers have developed methods to simplify the production process from start to finish, thereby eliminating the bottleneck of expertise. The high-speed machining application allows almost anyone to set up work using an easy-to-use touch screen interface.

Which prototype is best for you in 3D printing and CNC machining? If you are looking for excellent dimensional accuracy, then CNC machining is a good choice. In terms of tolerances, CNC machining is superior to all 3D printing processes. However, when responsible for manufacturing parts with high geometric complexity, 3D printing has advantages.

3d Printing Rapid Prototyping

Weighing Costs

The claim that manufacturing is not a single solution, the amount of capital required for a prototype laboratory depends not only on the products it produces, but also on the scale and quantity of its production. One of the most common misconceptions is that CNC machining services are expensive. In fact, the unit price of mass-produced parts will drop sharply. Due to automation and economies of scale, CNC machining is one of the most economical options for mass production of parts. Whether you need a unique prototype of a single part or a smaller project that requires mass production.

In Conclusion

The needs of a professional prototype laboratory are best determined by the specific products it will produce. Both 3D printing and CNC machining can work, and can even complement each other, depending on manufacturing needs. In fact, mainly due to tolerances, time and/or size of large workpieces, you can consider the combination of 3D printing and CNC machining.