Parts Made by CNC Machining

CNC Machining Vs. 3D Printing

CNC Machining Vs. 3D Printing:


3 Reasons Why Manufacturers Choose Machining

The use of 3D printing has made quite a splash in recent years because of its versatile and even fun applications.  Despite the hype, people and furthermore businesses still choose CNC machining over 3D printing to execute their projects.  CNC is overwhelmingly preferred for serious types of work because 3D printing is subject to a variety of limitations.  When you compare the two, CNC machining comes out on top.

Here are a few of the reasons why people are choosing to use CNC machining over 3D printing:

Materials Used:

CNC mills usually handle a wide variety of materials such as metal, plastic, wood, or just about any other type of material you want to use. With 3D printing, on the other hand, you can only work with a few materials such as ABS or PLA plastic.  Although metal 3D printing is currently possible, achieving the same finish and strength that is obtainable with CNC machining is virtually impossible with mainstream 3D printers.

Using a wider variety of materials allows you to make prototypes using the material you want the final product to have.  It gives you a more realistic view of how your final product will look and perform. It also allows you to use the prototype for tests such as durability or strength testing and move more quickly into the final production process.


CNC machining is faster than 3D printing, because it works by reduction instead of addition. Where 3D printing works by building up layer upon layer of the chosen material to make the product, machining works by cutting away material to make the desired shape.  It is faster to start with something and cut away than it is to start with nothing and build up.  To give you a simplistic example, if you want to make a rectangle, you take a square piece of metal and cut it in half.  You simply take the raw material and cut away what you don’t need, quickly.  If you start with nothing and have to build up layer after layer to make a rectangle of the same size, it could take quite a bit longer.


Sometimes, a quick copy of part is required to use as a test. With CNC machining, you can trade quality for speed and make a quick part for testing.  With 3D printing, on the other hand, there are limited options to customize quality settings.  Each time you need a product to do a test, you have to wait for a part that is meticulously built up, layer upon layer.  When testing, this can become quite time consuming and costly.  By using machining instead of 3D printing, you can speed up the development phase of your project.  It will even allow you to select different quality levels for different parts of your overall project.

[blockquote author=”” link=”” link_title=”” target=””]Choosing CNC machining over 3D printing is an excellent choice when you consider materials, speed, and quality.[/blockquote]
All manufacturers want the best possible product they can have at the best price.  If cost is a factor, you’ll definitely get the best value by going the CNC machining route to create your parts during all stages of development.