How 3D Printing and CNC Machining Can Work Together

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By Marifilmines Team

3D Printing involves the creation of a 3-Dimension (3D) solid object from a digital file using the additive process. 3D printing is also referred to as additive manufacturing. The name is derived from the process used in creating the 3D object which starts by laying down layers of material successively until the 3D object is formed. The technology has been adopted by different manufacturing companies such as the production of Consumer Products like eyewear and footwear. Also in the Industrial Products producing tools, parts and prototypes. Other applications of 3D Printing include Dental Products, Fossil Reconstruction, Forensic Pathology, Architectural Models and Prosthetics.

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining is a popular manufacturing process where pre-programmed computer software instructs the movement of a manufacturing tool or machinery. CNC Machining can be applied to a wide range of complex manufacturing tools and machinery such as 3D-Cutter, Grinders, and Drills, among others. Some of the common types of CNC Machines include CNC Mills, Lathes, Plasma Cutters, Water Jet Cutters and Electric Discharge Machines. The technology has been largely adopted by various manufacturing companies such as Embroidery, Turret Punchers, Wood Routers, Foam Cutters, Wire-Benders, Cylindrical Grinders, Laser Cutters, Glass Cutters and 3D Printers.

In the following article, we will outline how 3D printing and CNC machining can work together despite their differences to deliver the best results.

In The Enhancement Of Perforation Precision 

Holes are created to hold something in like a screw or for something to go through them. Accuracy and precision should never be compromised in such instances. When working with 3D Printing, hole dimension and precision accuracy and precision are on most occasions compromised depending on the 3D Printing machine or technology applied. Unlike 3D Printing, CNC Machining creates accurate sizes and precise finishing. CNC Machining is the most preferred when it comes to making holes in an object. The machine is always well programmed to select the needed size of the drill to use to make an accurate hole. Its subtractive technology ensures the hole finishing is well done and in precision by using either the Drilling, Reaming, Tapping, Countersinking, Boring, or Counter boring processes. When we incorporate the additive and subtractive manufacturing technologies will translate to accurate sized and easy-to-use holes on the 3D object created.

To Cut Down On Material Wastage

There are quite a number of issues to consider when considering whether to go for CNC Machining or 3D printing. Amon the factors we earlier discussed, the production cost is something to really consider when making this decision. Going with 3D printing, the cost of material is relatively low in comparison to CNC Machining. Also, one of the advantages of CNC Machining is its accuracy level which is way higher compared to that of 3D Printing. With that in mind, working with both 3D printing and CNC Machining will reduce the overall production cost and maintain high accuracy and precision levels. When working with CNC Machining, the wastage is way more since it involved cutting out an object from existing material. On the other hand, 3D printing is an additive method which means waste is at a minimal level. In the bid to reduce the production cost, creating a 3D object with a 3D printer and later enhancing the edges, recesses and holes with a CNC Machining, there shall be minimal wastage and hence put the production cost on watch.

In The Enhancement Of Edges Dimensional Accuracy

One of the major uses of 3D Printing is creating joinery 3D objects to join together to form one big object. The other major use is to make a 3D object fit in an existing structure. In such instances, dimensional inaccuracies can deter the efforts to fit a 3D object in an assembly. 3D printing in most instances has edge-related inaccuracies due to its additive creation procedure. On the other hand, CNC Machining provides accurate and precise edge cutting and finishing. This makes it ideal to use when cutting fitting objects due to its undisputable accuracy. Once the 3D Printing and the CNC Machining are incorporated, the product will have a perfect 3D creation and at the same time acquire the precise edge cuts and finishing. In return, the fitting of the 3D Object created will be easy to fit and with the needed accuracy. 

To Avoid Manual Post-Processing

For every production company, manual post-processing is always an expensive option as its time consuming, slows down production and may also compromise the quality. Working with 3D printing alone means there will be involvement of manual post-processing to enhance the quality of holes, edges and recesses. This will mean there will be manual drilling of holes, sanding and carving of the edges for an even and accurate finishing. The whole process will end up consuming a lot of time and the quality of the object can be compromised. Incorporating the CNC Machining, there will be no manual post-processing involved. The CNC Machining will create the different types of holes using the CNC drilling, creating the edges with accuracy and precision. The process will use less time compared to manual post-processing and enhance the quality of the objects. The incorporation of 3D Printing and CNC Machining will be a time-saving venture for any production company and the path to increase production significantly.

To Enhance Part Recesses

Creating fittings will not only require accurate and well-cut edges but also well-done and accurate recesses. Even with accurate edges, if the recesses are not accurate, a 3D object might pose fitting challenges. When creating a 3D object, 3D printing at times does not have accurate recess and hence requires further cutting to enhance the recess and increase the fitting accuracy. For instance, when producing 3D industrial objects, prioritizing recesses accuracy will greatly reduce theIndustrial 3D Printing Costs. Working with CNC Machining together with 3D printing eases the creation of accurate recesses of the 3D object hence hastening the production of ready-to-use 3D objects. Working with both 3D Printing and CNC Machining will greatly increase the production of 3D objects without compromising the quality of the object. 

In Conclusion

Without a doubt, 3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing and CNC Machining or Subtractive manufacturing are two very different manufacturing technologies that harbour their very own strengths and weaknesses. Despite their differences, when they are both used together, they can help utilize the strengths and reduce the weakness of both manufacturing methods. The results of collaborating the 3D Printing and CNC Machining will be a product with accurate dimensions, reduced material waste and reduced material cost.  

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