In the machining world, traditional manufacturing usually refers to the four leading subtracting manufacturing methods: injection molding, CNC machining, plastic joining, and plastic forming.
Injection molding is a conventional manufacturing process that requires a mold, where final products and components are manufactured by injecting molten material (plastic or metal) into the mold. After the cooling period, the newly produced end-product will pop out of the mold with a human operator’s help.
CNC machining, or Computer Numerical Control machining, is a widely used manufacturing process in which pre-programmed computer software commands factory machinery and tools’ motions. CNC machining is especially useful and practical for performing complex 3D cutting tasks that can easily be fulfilled in a single set of prompts with the proper CNC machine.
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Plastic joining is a manufacturing process involving semi-finished parts via fastening, welding, and adhesive bonding to form the desired product. Plastic forming works by heating sheets of plastic material over a mold. Afterward, the process utilizes air pressure and male plugs to form the plastic sheet material into the desired shape.
On the other hand, additive manufacturing is a potent force that’s quickly changing how manufacturers produce many products and components for the sake of numerous distinctive industries. 3D printing is the most famous and highly utilized additive manufacturing process that works by inserting material layer over layer till it forms the desired final object.
Lately, many prominent companies are taking advantage of additive manufacturing for their rapid prototyping projects because of the ultra-fast prototyping turnaround times and other notable benefits that come with this type of manufacturing that we’ll further discuss in this article.
However, for many people, the differences between traditional and additive manufacturing aren’t especially clear. For that reason, we’ve compiled this article where we’ll explain how additive manufacturing differentiates from the other more familiar methods of manufacturing. Without further ado, here are the most notable differences you should know between the two.
The first difference between the two manufacturing processes refers to the physical characteristics during manufacturing, and it’s a pretty obvious one.
While traditional manufacturing techniques are subtractive, additive manufacturing works by adding layers of material to form the final object. Subtractive manufacturing includes mechanically removing chips from blocks of material to construct the final shape. For instance, this could involve creating CNC turned parts by removing metal chips from a rotating workpiece, or cutting through aluminum alloy using lasers, just to mention a few examples.
Although all additive manufacturing processes involve creating objects layer-by-layer, there are many different types of additive manufacturing. For instance, producers use direct metal laser sintering to join layers of metal powder together or use fused deposition modeling to create plastic components promptly.
What About Producing Complex Geometries?
It goes without saying that the primary difference in how items are made with additive manufacturing also creates some significant functional differences.
The most important one is that this type of manufacturing can develop complex geometries that would be very difficult or improbable to achieve with conventional manufacturing techniques. These complex geometries produced with additive manufacturing are frequently lighter and more robust than their traditional counterparts.
Heavily related to its capacity to develop complex geometries more efficiently than all other manufacturing methods out there, additive manufacturing can virtually eliminate all additional costs associated with creating these complicated designs.
That’s because, in this type of manufacturing, the process is always identical regardless of the complexity and intricacy of the final object. As a result, additional post-processing costs are no longer a factor.
Further Functional Differences
One other functional difference between both manufacturing methods is that additive manufacturing includes considerably less material waste. With 3D printing, for example, you can only use the material that’s necessary to build the part, ensuring that produced waste is very minimal.
Besides, with additive manufacturing, it’s totally possible to print full moving assemblies, which traditionally are manufactured each part separately and assembled later on. Nevertheless, with a 3D printer, you can combine the manufacturing and assembling phases into a single procedure and save both money and time.
Also, additive manufacturing and 3D printing can be utilized to create highly customized products without difficulty. Traditional manufacturing processes can make large quantities of identical products but offer little to no room for customization. By comparison, given their capacity to print objects of any configuration from “ground zero,” 3D printers are perfect for creating customized products.
3D printers and additive manufacturing also differ from conventional manufacturing techniques in terms of the technology used to facilitate it.
Usually, traditional manufacturing processes require a couple of manufacturing steps, each using a different machine to get the job done. For example, in CNC machining, milling, turning, and drilling are commonly used in unison to create the final metal product.
In additive manufacturing, a single device (the 3D printer) handles all phases of production. Also, 3D printing involves significantly less labor than traditional manufacturing because the printers create parts and components in an entirely automated manner, demanding just a little oversight from a human operator.
On the other hand, traditional machining setups require a skilled workforce to operate each machine used in the process.
3D printing lowers the barrier to product development and entrepreneurship. By utilizing additive manufacturing methods, modern-day businesses can engage in rapid prototyping and develop their products with a single piece of equipment, rather than funding a comprehensive factory setup.
Actually, thanks to 3D printing service companies, small businesses nowadays can even make use of additive manufacturing without the original cost of purchasing the expensive equipment themselves.
And since customization is fairly doable and straightforward when using 3D printing, many businesses excelled at creating personalized products for their clients, opening up a whole new market place.
Last but not least, probably the most significant difference between the two manufacturing processes is decentralization. With additive manufacturing methods, we can deploy the machines that make this manufacturing possible locally, rather than in enormous, centralized facilities. That way, manufacturing moves closer to the end-users, which is a positive thing indeed.
Decentralized production is also a substantial beneficial factor for companies that work in remote locations, like oil companies, because this manufacturing model makes it possible to offer finished products and components way more quickly than centralized manufacturing will ever do.
Now that you know all the crucial differences that set additive manufacturing apart from all previously known conventional manufacturing procedures, we hope that you’ll implement it in your line of work and enjoy the fruits of 3D printing and this manufacturing technique.