When people think of the benefits of 3D printing, they often think of complex geometries, quick iteration, and short lead times. But many are now realizing that 3D printing can be a huge cost saver when its done right.
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.
While metal AM brings with it a host of positive advantages, it’s important to understand the realities of as-printed surface roughness. This understanding will help design/engineering teams understand the costs associated with bringing 3D printed parts to a suitable finish.
Metal additive manufacturing is quickly making a name for itself as an up-and-coming manufacturing technology. The shift in transitioning from traditional manufacturing to metal 3D printing is being driven by a variety of advantages, including product-development flexibility and the ability to produce parts so complex they’d be impossible using conventional methods. While these positives are significant, there’s one area in which metal AM has historically struggled relative to other techniques: surface finish.
In case you missed it, 3DEO recently presented on the economics of metal 3D printing and showed off its production capabilities for metal 3D printed parts at RAPID 2018. Get the full story here:
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.