You might not think that a 3D printer and a sculptor have anything in common, but you’d be wrong. While 3D printing companies usually focus on the automated parts of their process, there can be a tremendous amount of labor and post-processing required to finish a part. This depends on the metal 3D printing process, of course, but the idea is generally the same--parts require a lot of finishing work after the print. While such things are usually straight-forward, the flexibility of AM and importance of post-processing adds another layer of complexity to the process.
Metal 3D Printing is becoming a great complement to Metal Injection Molding (MIM) and the decision to use one or the other largely comes down to the volumes required. The added bonus with metal 3D printing is that you can update a part without needing to invest in a brand new mold.
Manufacturers today who are searching for a cost-effective way to make small and complex metal parts for production by and large only have two options: metal injection molding (MIM) or investment casting. Casting has been around for thousands of years, and MIM was created ~40 years ago. Metal 3D printing is the new entrant to the scene, and for the first time in a long while adds another option to the engineer's toolkit. New low-cost, high volume metal 3D printing technologies (like 3DEO) are beginning to change conventional manufacturing wisdom.
Cost per part is only one aspect of the economics involved in CNC Milling and metal additive manufacturing technologies. At its core, the decision to choose CNC or AM (or both) comes down to part requirements within a specific application.
If you’ve been researching solutions for metal parts manufacturing, you’ve probably encountered the “either-or” scenario: either metal additive manufacturing (AM) is the best option or CNC milling can’t be beat.