South Shore Manufacturing is renowned for its high-quality computer numerical control (CNC) machining services and having the best close-tolerance metal parts. We use versatile CNC machining capabilities to manufacture various products and parts of different shapes, sizes, and materials. Even if you need the most complex, intricate design, our computer-aided controls, computer-aided design software, and CNC printing provide us with the ability to create your physical pieces with tight tolerances. We have the capabilities to produce a plethora of components with the most precise quality criteria.

With the vast development of stronger 3D printing materials, manufacturers are also exploring CNC machining versus 3D printing. The main difference between these two processes is that CNC manufacturing is a form of subtractive manufacturing, while 3D printing is additive. Read on for more insights.

Processes of CNC Machining & 3D Printing

CNC Machining vs 3D Printing

CNC Machining

CNC machining starts with a solid block of material and cuts away material to achieve the finished shape. To shape the pieces, manufacturers use spinning tools and cutters. This procedure is one of the most popular ways of manufacturing, used for small one-off jobs as well as medium to high-volume production. Moreover, CNC machining offers high accuracy, excellent repeatability, and a wide range of surface finishes. 

3D Printing

3D printing or additive manufacturing involves creating parts layer by layer using materials like plastic filaments, resins, metal, or plastic powders. Mostly, 3D printing parts are from melted material, which is then layered and shaped into a preprogrammed specification. The layers of these materials are usually solidified using a source of energy, such as a heated or laser extruder, to form a finished part. 

Materials & Benefits of CNC Machining & 3D Printing

Both 3D printing and CNC machining have different material capabilities because of their fundamental fabrication methods. Also, the two methods have different benefits, as highlighted below.

CNC MachiningCNC Machining

Materials: You can use CNC machining to create parts and components from several materials, including wood, glass, granite, acrylic, modeling foam, machining wax, thermoplastics, fiber in-layered composites, metals, and metal alloys.

Benefits: Some of the attributes that make CNC machining ideal are listed below.

  •   Quality: CNC machining makes products of high quality and precision.
  •   Cost: CNC milling costs are less expensive in most quantities than 3D printing. Even though the per-unit cost in 3D printing remains constant, it’s much cheaper when using CNC machining. 
  •   Strength: The parts made through CNC machining are strong enough to be used in airplanes and engines.
  •   Consistency: Since this process makes products with high precision, you get parts the same way every time.
  •   Variety: You can make a product with almost any material you want and of any size you desire using CNC machining.
  •   Speed: CNC machining is a much faster production procedure, especially when you need higher-volume throughput.
  •   Customization: CNC machining helps you achieve more specialized parts and components.

3D Printing

Materials: Most 3D printing utilizes resins, but technological developments have increased the material options for different printer types. Other materials used for 3D printing also include photopolymers, wood filaments, thermoplastics, metal filaments, and nylon.

Benefits: The following advantages of 3D printing are beneficial to manufacturers as well as customers and the environment.

  •   Fast turnaround time: Since 3D printing involves little setup and custom programming, you can get a small batch of parts in around 2-3 working days.
  •   Reduced waste: There is less material and energy waste in 3D printing because it’s an additive process.
  •   Cleaner production: Generally, this process is a cleaner process than CNC machining.

CNC Machining Services at South Shore Manufacturing

CNC machining has been one of the most cost-effective ways of mass production, and 3D printing has also grown significantly in the past decade. While comparing CNC versus 3D printing, it’s also important to consider functionality, quantity, size, and purpose to know what makes the most sense for your application.

At South Shore Manufacturing, we avail high-quality CNC machining services for different industries and applications, from consumer goods, packaging, transportation, automotive, and food processing to construction, aerospace, defense, power generation, and automation. Contact South Shore Manufacturing today or request a quote for the different services we offer.

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