3D printing and injection molding have a lot in common, but several key differences exist.
If you’re looking for the best option for your business or product, it can be helpful to understand these differences so that you can make an informed decision.
In this article, we’ll go over what each process entails and how they compare to each other from a cost perspective.
3D printing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file. It's called three-dimensional because the thing being produced has height, width, and depth instead of only two dimensions (like on paper).
3D printing can be used for prototypes and models, but it's also an excellent way to make production parts since it produces parts just as vital as those made with other methods. 3D-printed components can be made from many materials, including plastic, metal, and more.
Injection molding is a manufacturing process used to produce plastic parts, and it can be used to make just about anything from a small button to an entire chair.
The process begins with the injection of molten plastic into a mold cavity, where it cools, solidifies, and takes on the shape of that cavity. Once cooled, an ejector pushes out your part from the mold cavity and is ready for use!
The process is highly automated, so once you’ve designed your 3D model in CAD software, it’s relatively simple for an engineer or designer to send it off for manufacturing using CAD/CAM software packages like SolidWorks or Fusion 360 that help automate production processes like injection molding.
In the prototyping phase, you can expect to see your designs come to life in days with 3D printing.
Injection molding is slower and more expensive because it's used for mass manufacturing products.
-This means injection molds have to be made with extreme accuracy since they will be used repeatedly.
The production phase is when the actual manufacturing of your product takes place. -This may not be part of your 3D printing process, but it's still important to understand because it determines how many units of your product can be produced and how quickly they can be made.
You have two primary options: 3D printing or Injection molding.
Injection molding is a more traditional method used by most manufacturers to produce thousands or millions of identical parts in one go, and it's great for mass production.
3D printing is better suited for small-batch runs like prototypes, custom parts, and unique items that can't be replicated through injection molding.
That makes injection molding more cost-effective when making high-volume products like water bottles or DVD covers.
Injection molding is cheaper, faster, and more precise than 3D printing. However, 3D printing is less expensive, quicker to get going on a project (and sometimes even produces better results), and makes it easier to create complex shapes that would be difficult or impossible with injection molding.
Ultimately, you'll have to weigh your options in terms of cost & time versus precision & quality when deciding which is right for your business.
If you need multiple parts made at once, it's worth considering how many units each piece will need before deciding which manufacturing process might be best suited for your needs.
-this process can take weeks or even months, depending on the material type/part complexity/etc. So, if speed matters, then maybe think twice about using this method instead.
3D printing is more expensive than injection molding because it uses materials that are usually more expensive than those used in injection molding.
That’s why 3D-printed objects tend to be smaller than those made with injection molding – they don’t use as much material or require complex molds.
However, the time needed for each process can vary wildly depending on what you want to make:
3D printing takes hours or days but can produce highly detailed small items; injection molding takes minutes or less but produces large quantities at once (injection molders can churn out hundreds of thousands of parts per day).
So, if you want just one item with intricate detailing, you might opt for 3D printing; if you need many identical things with no complex features, then an injection molder would be better suited for your needs!
We hope this article has helped you learn more about the pros and cons of 3D printing vs. injection molding.
If you’re still unsure which process is best for your needs, we recommend reaching out to an expert who can help guide your decision-making process.