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Milling vs 3D Printing

April 26, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 147

Material removal processes have been around for centuries. This is a form of manufacturing that involves taking a block or section of material, and removing sections and bits of the material to yield a final product. This form of manufacturing has a wide variety of processes to get the final result. One common term for this style of manufacturing would be machining or milling. This technology definitely has its advantages, as it can produce a wide array of products through drilling, cutting, sanding, and overall removing bits of material. A popular form of material removal would be CNC cutting. This involves a solid block of material being brought to a machine. The machine will then take a 3D model, or blueprint, and create it through its advanced computer. The computer will tell a drill to drill out certain sections of the material, yielding a sculpted piece of material. This technology is commonly used when it comes down to machining metals, creating furniture, and specialized parts within various industries. This technology is very practical, and isn't too expensive.

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing is an interesting form of manufacturing. Unlike machining or material removal processes, 3D printing is more of a consolidation style of manufacturing. Typically, consolidation refers to brazing, welding, and mechanical joining, however 3D printing is a little bit different. Similar to CNC cutting, a 3D model or blueprint will have to be provided to the machine. A 3D printer maintains an intelligent computer to help with the creation. Here is where 3D printing is much different. In this process, layers of a specific material will be laid down in powder form within a 3D printer as small as a few microns. As each layer stacks up, the 3D printer will fuse the powders together in accordance to the computer blueprint either through using an adhesive chemical, or laser melting. As hundreds of layers stack up on top of each other, the 3D printer will continually fuse the layers where it is necessary. The final product from 3D printing will be exactly what the computer called for, and created through this layer by process.

Let's cover the advantages and disadvantages of both. 3D printing allows for the creation of virtually any shape based off of its layer by layer process, and has over 60 materials to choose from. 3D printing also allows for exceptional detail. Although that is great, some materials can be expensive. Machining can create a wide variety of products from a wide variety of materials as well; however it is limited by geometrical boundaries. Because a drill has to come down or a person is going to be physically machining a product, there is a limit on what can be created. Keep in mind, a drill can only go straight down. In a nutshell, both can create custom products for a reasonable price, however 3D printing can create much more detailed products without the same geometrical boundaries. Although some materials are much more expensive in 3D printing, many are affordable; it all depends on what you're looking for.

Learn more about 3D Printing

Source: EzineArticles
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