rapid prototype

How do you decide between injection molding and 3D printing?

Introductory Statement

The idea of how to manufacture your product comes to your mind as you begin. Which manufacturing technique is best suited to your product? Find out today if injection molding or 3D printing is the best choice for your project by comparing the two.

Using injection molding and additive manufacturing, we will weigh time, budget, precision, and volume. See the advantages and disadvantages of both processes by following the guide below! What should you choose between injection molding and 3D printing?

Techniques to choose for manufacturing

There are many benefits to using both 3D printing and injection molding, although the two processes are really different and can serve different purposes. The answer entirely depends on your needs. At first glance, injection molding appears to be more professional, but 3D printing is taking over in a big way. It allows for extremely accurate parts, as opposed to injection molding.

Rapid prototyping and production can both be streamlined with these two techniques. You will have to identify which one will have a greater impact on your manufacturing process since they both have their own advantages.

3D printing versus injection molding – what’s the difference?

  • Injection molding

Traditional manufacturing techniques include injection molding. In this process, the material created by your part is injected into a cavity in the mold. It is a manufacturing method where molten materials are injected into molds and cooled down until they can take on their final solid shape.

  • Printing 3D models

A 3D printer is an additive manufacturing device, meaning the whole thing is built up by layering materials. The 3D file is all that is needed in this process, so no mold is required. A wide range of materials and technologies are currently available for 3D printing.

What is the best time to use each process?

Injection molding: how does it work?

There are a lot of things that need to be done before you can use this technology. As a matter of fact, injection molding requires specialized machines. Material is weighed into a hopper, a ram is inserted into the material, and the machine has a heating unit.

Creating injection molds is a bit expensive and limits your prototyping options: Making molds, each time, can be quite expensive if you need to make several iterations. The steel molds are usually hard to change and couldn’t be used to develop your prototype since they are made of steel.

The solution is good when it comes to producing large quantities of these products. Although injection molding is becoming more common, molds are still expensive, and the turnaround time is long.

3D printing: how to utilize it?

You can use additive manufacturing in many ways. The filament you need for 3D printing can be purchased from a 3D printer, such as an FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) printer. In addition to investing in larger and more sophisticated 3D printers, your company could also invest in a SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) 3D printer. Your company might not want to invest in an industrial 3D printer because it is too expensive.

If you prefer, you might want to consider a 3D printing service like Sculpteo, whose catalog includes 75+ different materials and finishes. All types of projects can be created with 3D printing technologies, from metal to plastic and resin. Technology choices are numerous, including Multijet Fusion, CLIP (DLS), DMLS, and 3D printing.

Using an online 3D printing service, you have to upload your design and select your technology, material, and finish. You can receive an immediate quote with our fast and easy parts ordering system.

Would you like to share your thoughts? Do you know which one to pick?

  • Injection molding benefits

This technique offers you the best chance to produce large quantities in a highly precise and repeatable manner. A variety of materials are available when you use plastic injection molding. Each material can be further variegated, causing it to have different properties each time. Plastic material properties and possibilities seem endless in terms of weight, cost, and flexibility.

As we have already mentioned, injection molding is suitable for mass production and specializing in creating highly detailed parts. Using injection molding, you can create parts with a lot of fine details, thanks to the high pressure of the process.

By using injection molding, strong parts can be made quite easily. The use of plastic injection will allow being filled with fillers.

  • 3D printing benefits

Compared to traditional manufacturing techniques, additive manufacturing offers many advantages.

A 3D printer is ideal for iterations. Long before additive manufacturing became popular as a rapid prototyping technique, it was considered a fabrication technique. Now, this is not the case since the manufacturing technique has also developed into a reliable one. Nonetheless, this manufacturing method offers the best advantages of prototyping easily and quickly. Using additive manufacturing, you can print projects for testing, then modify them using your 3D modeling software, and then print them again to verify your modifications. It will save you time and money while improving your product design due to its flexibility.

By using 3D printing, you can also reduce material waste. The 3D printing technology appears to be the winner in this category as injection molding has historically been seen as a manufacturing technique with low scrapes compared to processes such as CNC machining. You can create a whole product in 3D using only the material you need.

Aside from avoiding inventory problems, you can also reduce costs and improve storage with 3D printing. It’s totally possible to 3D print your own designs at any time! Your storage needs won’t be a problem!

With 3D printing for production, the supply chain can become dematerialized. Your company may have the opportunity to re-think its entire manufacturing process and lower its tooling investment. Is digital inventory the same as physical inventory? Using 3D printing, your parts can be created on-demand. The parts do not have to be stored. They can be printed when needed.


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