- November 1, 2022
- Posted by: Milestone Blogger
- Category: Mechanical
3D printing and injection molding are two manufacturing processes that can be used for producing various plastic parts and pieces. Let’s get into some detail about the benefits, pricing, and drawbacks of each process.
What is 3D printing?
3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing. The process creates 3D objects using a CAD model or digital 3D model. There are numerous applications for this technology, ranging from product design to aviation, medical devices and more. Some medical uses of 3D printing include making valves and stents used in surgical procedures and even prosthetics.
This method is best for projects with a one- to two-week turnaround time that involve intricate designs. These projects often rely on custom molds that can’t be adjusted quickly, or projects where you might need to make changes right before production starts.
3D printing is also being used in the prototype creation process. It’s more cost-efficient than other methods, so it can be a great choice for prototype makers.
Traditional injection moulding and manufacturing is more costlier than 3D printing. The low cost of 3D printing makes it a popular hobby for those building objects out of metal, plastics, and electronics.
Advantages of 3D printing
There are a number of benefits to 3D printing such as :-
- It has a low entry cost
If you want to 3D print at home, all you need is a desktop 3D printer and raw materials. We’ll print your parts for you for an even lower price. What’s more, there are no upfront costs to this type of printing – but the longer your part takes to print the more it’ll eventually cost. At some point, the high investment cost of making injection molding would be cheaper than this method.
- Its easy to change designs with 3D printing
3D printing is an additive process, so the design can be changed before the first print. This means you can take any needed changes and edit the CAD file in between prints. In the event that there are any design flaws, the most likely scenario is to change the CAD file before a second print.
- 3D printing allows us to create intricate designs
With 3D printing, you can create intricate designs and parts that are not possible with traditional manufacturing methods, such as creating internal spaces that can’t be accessed from the outside.
Drawbacks of 3D printing
The disadvantages of 3D printing includes :-
- Time consumption is more in 3D printing
Most printers can only produce one or two units at a time, which makes it difficult to mass produce something. For this reason, it’s better to outsource your printing needs to us, who have access to multiple machines. If you’re producing something in bulk on a very large scale however, you can use cheaper and quicker traditional manufacturing methods like injection molding instead.
- There is a size limit to 3D printers
3D printers are actually pretty useful in many different situations. In most cases, the size of the products that can be created is limited by the size of the printing area and capacity of the printer. Hobbyist printers tend to be small, while professional printers can be much larger. For large products, it can sometimes be necessary to break them into parts which are reassembled later.
- 3D printing has rough finish in lower resolution
3D prints are made in layers, meaning the end result will have a rough finish. You can also choose your desired finish, which can be at a higher resolution. A finer finish is more expensive. Regardless of your choice, though, you’ll need to spend time and energy to machine your 3D print if you want a smooth finish.
- 3D printing with dense materials is still not possible
3D printing technology is getting better and more affordable every day. However, at this point in time it’s not practical to print in very dense materials.
What is injection moulding?
Injection molding is a manufacturing process in which material is injected, under high pressure, into a mold. The material has already been heated to the point of melting and is then cooled back down to its solid state. Parts can be made from materials of different types and sorts including metal, glass, and different types of plastics.
This is a good option for a company that needs to produce a lot of items. The surface finish is smooth and strong, so it’s best for after the final design has been approved. It reduces the number of prototypes needed because the molds used in this type of manufacturing are expensive.
Injection moulding benefits
- For mass production injection moulding is most suited
When it comes to mass producing a product, injection molding is significantly faster that 3D printing. Large numbers of molds can be used at once, which drastically reduces production time. This is why injection molding is used for manufacturing products at large scales.
- Products with injection moulding has a strong finish
One of the benefits of using injection molding is that it uses one layer for production. That means you won’t see any fissures or weak spots on the finished product. Injection molding can also be used to create products from denser materials like concrete.
- Waste produced is less when injection moulding is used
The individual molds that our process creates only need the exact amount of material required for a specific design. There is no wasted mold material and little machining is necessary, saving time and money.
Drawbacks of injection moulding
- Designs with intricate patterns don’t work well
Some designs are simply too complicated to be economically feasible when the mould-making process is involved. To be successful, a product design should be simple and involve as few angles or internal spaces as possible.
- Design change is costly
You can only do injection molding using an expensive metal mold that will be able to withstand repeated use. This means that if you need changes, your product is pretty much ruined. And due to the high cost of creating a new mold, it’s almost always cheaper to start over from scratch than to rework a mold.
- It cannot be done by hobbyist & has initial high investment
This process is often used in commercial manufacturing because the equipment needed is expensive, and making molds is a costly affair.
Which is more cheaper?
Pricing and profitability can vary depending on a number of factors. For the most part, complexity of design and size of your run determine how much you’ll spend.
With injection molding, the initial design and molding costs are higher. However, 3D printing can be set up at a lower investment.
Manufacturers can cover their initial investment by mass-producing products at the beginning of a project. If you’re manufacturing more than 2000 units, it can be an easy way to cover the costs.
Injection molding is much faster and cheaper than 3D printing when you need to produce large amounts of parts or products. Even with the high cost of the mold, injection-molded pieces are significantly cheaper than 3D printed materials if you’re hoping to produce very large quantities of parts, even more so in bulk orders.
3D printing is more cost-effective for small or medium-sized products. Even if the price per unit by itself can seem high, when one factors in that there would be no large upfront investment in making a mold, it will end up being cheaper with a smaller number of items.
If you want to update and change your design throughout the production process, or if your design has a lot of intricacies and details, then 3D printing is the way to go.
Injection molds cannot be altered easily so any sort of change means that you’ll have to start from scratch with a new mold. Each time you start at the beginning, you’ll end up spending a larger sum of money.
Furthermore, complicated design that involves angles or spaces in the middle of the product cannot be sufficiently manufactured using injection moulding. This type of product is easily damaged and can easily break when it’s removed from the mould. Damaged products will lead to wastage of materials and resources.
Therefore, 3D printing is more economical in the product development stage or prototype stage when you will have to revise and rework your design multiple times, or in the case of complex items.
Which is better?
Depending on your requirements and budget, you’ll have access to both 3D printing and injection molding. 3D printing is great for initial prototyping, while injection molding is ideal for mass production. They’re not mutually exclusive – they work together.
How Milestone PLM Solutions can help you gain expertise in your business?
Milestone is a multidisciplinary company and caters in CAD, CAM & FEA services since 2004. We majorly work in Mechanical, Millwork and Automotive domain across the globe. With a team of experts, we can help you and your team in performing better and faster than your competition. You can outsource you Product Design, 3d Modeling, Drafting & detailing, Reverse Engineering, FEA Analysis and we assure to you guaranteed quality results with the quickest Turn Around Time possible.