However, there are still significant drawbacks when it comes to mass production due to slow speeds and a lack of accessibility. One technique that has been around for far longer and is still a valid alternative to 3D printing is CNC (computer numerical control) machining, which has been used in manufacturing for decades. But when it comes to prototyping and model building, which process is the best route to take?
3D Printers vs CNC: What’s the difference?
For building smaller models (highly detailed model ships, for example) 3D printing is perhaps the most obvious process because it is able to replicate minor details with greater accuracy. CNC machines meanwhile, are more dimensionally accurate, but struggle with finer details and the process leaves significantly more waste.
What materials are used in 3D printing and CNC machining?
Ease of use
Is 3D printing or CNC cheaper?
Which technique is more eco-friendly?
As we’ve already established, as 3D printing is an additive, rather than subtractive process, the waste is minimal, whereas subtractive manufacturing, by its very nature, will always result in more to be cleaned away and disposed of after the job is done.
Which is most accurate?
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer. The preferred method will always be chosen based on volume, budget and the complexity of the model. However, both are incredibly useful and powerful and have been used to create some truly exceptional models.