If you’ve spent time researching the prototyping and modeling fields, you’ve probably heard both terms used interchangeably.
Despite their apparent similarities, 3D printing vs injection molding differ significantly.
Therefore, we have written this article to help brief you on both methods and the differences and similarities you should be aware of to help you wrap your head around both ends of the creative world. Let’s begin right away!
3D Printing vs Injection Molding: The Differences and Similarities A Brief Gander At The Basics
First, let’s discuss these manufacturing procedures from a high perspective.
Of course, additive manufacturing includes 3D printing. That implies that 3D-printed objects are essentially “drawn” on successive layers. The valuable aspect is that you can see exactly how each layer is made, allowing you to make quick adjustments to the structure, add details, and prototype.
Injection molding, on the other hand, resembles its name because it uses molds to produce designs. To create the mold, you would carve out the opposite of the object, which would then be filled with a molten substance of your choice. Once the molded material has cooled, you will have your finished design in physical form.
3D Printing vs Injection Molding: The Differences and Similarities A Major Difference In Required Equipment
Now that we’ve established the fundamental differences, let’s discuss the vast implications you’ll need to consider when deciding between injection molding and 3D printing.
One of these critical variations is the equipment required for either strategy.
The fundamental 3D printing checklist is as follows:
- A functional 3D Printer or Cloud Printing setup.
- The filament of your choosing.
On the other hand, the situation with injection molding is slightly more complex:
- Machine for injection molding with the appropriate hopper, injection arm, and heating system for your material.
- Reinforced molds for your design.
- The material of your choosing.
The molds themselves are the actual center of complexity in injection molding. You’ll need to set aside a small fortune to manufacture with injection molding on a small scale because these molds are frequently pretty expensive to produce and because mistakes, imperfections, and revisions are a normal part of any design process.
It’s also important to remember that most molds are constructed using a reinforced metallic alloy (typically steel or aluminum) to withstand the heat applied to them during the injection process. And as you might have guessed, that raises the cost factor even further.
3D Printing vs Injection Molding: The Differences and Similarities Closing Thoughts
Suppose you’re trying to decide between 3D printing vs. injection molding for your prototyping and modeling needs. In that case, you should now have some important insights into which of the two processes may be the one for you after reading this article.
When it comes to giving your designs and creations life, either strategy is fantastic. However, each has advantages and disadvantages, some of which we’ve already discussed.
3D printing is a practical, affordable solution for bootstrapping and quick on-the-fly iterations. On the other hand, injection molding is a tried-and-true method for precise manufacturing at scale.
What are your thoughts about 3D printing vs injection molding?
Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page to let us know your ideas, and we would appreciate seeing pictures of your works of art! Sign up for our free weekly newsletter to receive all the latest 3D printing info in your email!