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Industry News | 3D Printing vs Injection Molding – Know the Differences Pt.1

Date: 2019-07-25
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3D printing and injection molding may be vastly different processes, but both hold valuable places in manufacturing.



The Basic

Industry News | 3D Printing vs Injection Molding – Know the Differences
An injection-molded part alongside a 3D Benchy, mid-print. Source: injectionmouldingparts.com, Emmett Grames / All3DP

3D printing and injection molding have a lot in common. Both are manufacturing processes meant to make a designer’s vision a reality as painlessly as possible, and both are great at producing prototypes or replacement parts, among many things. But although they get you the same result, they are vastly different processes.


First of all, 3D printing is an additive process. It manufactures objects by building them up layer by layer. You can watch this build process as it happens, which is useful when you’re testing a new design.


Injection molding makes use of molds (as you may have guessed from the name). First, an object’s inverse is carved out of a material that is safe to handle the molten build material (the material the finished object is made of). Then, the molten build material is poured into the mold. Once the material has cooled in the mold, the finished object is ready.


It’s important to realize the differences between these two processes in order to determine which works best for your application. That’s what we’re here for – so let’s dive in!


What You Need


Industry News | 3D Printing vs Injection Molding – Know the Differences
3D printers come in a wide variety. Source: Mashable


Both 3D printing and injection molding start with a digital 3D design. And while we’re in the design stage, below are a few different things that are needed for these two different processes.


3D Printing


3D printer. The obvious answer. You can find whatever you need in a huge range of prices. It’s also worth noting that if you’re not ready to invest in your own machine, you can use various 3D printing services that print your designs with a wide range of materials and machines. These services can be great for testing your initial idea if you’re on the fence about whether you want to be manufacturing in-house or for the long haul.


Filament/material. 3D printers use spools of filament which are fed into the printer, melted, and extruded onto the printer’s bed to form the object – it’s sort of like using an icing bag. There are many different filaments that exhibit an array of properties, everything from thermoplastics designed for beginners to blends with stone, metal, and wood, which are trickier to manipulate.


Injection molding


Injection molding machine. Duh again, right? But once more, there’s more to this than meets the eyes. Injection molding requires a specific machine that contains a material hopper, an injection ram (or some kind of plunger), and a heating unit. These machines are designed to keep the molds in place while they’re being filled, so nothing jostles them to mess up the final products.


Molds designed for your object. This is the most valuable tool for injection molding. It will literally make or break your manufacturing, and unfortunately, it’s much easier to make a mistake here than to fix one. Molds are expensive to create from original designs, so a lot of manufacturers make the molds on a large scale to stretch their money further. They’re usually made from hardened steel, aluminum, or a copper alloy to stand up to the heat of the injection process.


Material for your final object. Like 3D printing filaments, a large range of injection molding materials are available. Metal alloys and plastic polymers are both popular for machine parts and other replacement objects. Again, the specific material you need depends on what you’re making.


Via: https://all3dp.com/2/3d-printing-vs-injection-molding-know-the-differences/



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