CNC Machining vs. 3D Printing: Which is Better?

CNC Machining vs. 3D Printing

If you’re wanting to create top quality custom parts, you’re likely considering CNC machining or 3D printing as your go-to manufacturing procedure. Both have their own benefits and also disadvantages, but which is the much better choice for your job? In this article, we’ll explore the vital differences in between CNC machining and also 3D printing, and also assist you figure out which is the very best choice for your specific requirements.

What is CNC machining?

CNC (Computer System Numerical Control) machining is a subtractive manufacturing procedure that makes use of computer-controlled machines to remove material from a solid block to produce a preferred shape. The procedure entails using a computer-aided design (CAD) documents that instructs the CNC maker on just how to cut the material. CNC devices make use of a range of reducing devices such as mills, turrets, and routers to precisely form the product into the wanted form.

CNC machining has actually been around for years as well as is commonly made use of in industries such as aerospace, auto, as well as clinical gadget production because of its high accuracy as well as repeatability. CNC machining can creating get rid of really limited resistances, and is commonly utilized for creating parts with complicated geometries that are tough to create with various other making approaches.

Recommended Read: The Future of CNC Machining: Automation and Robotics

What is 3D printing?

3D printing, additionally called additive manufacturing, is a procedure that entails developing layers of product to develop a three-dimensional item. The procedure includes making use of a 3D printer that reviews a digital file as well as down payments material layer by layer up until the things is full. 3D printing utilizes a selection of materials, consisting of plastics, steels, as well as also natural materials like healthy proteins and also cells.

3D printing is a relatively brand-new technology, yet has obtained popularity recently due to its adaptability and affordable. 3D printing is typically utilized for prototyping and small production, and can creating get rid of complex geometries that would certainly be hard to create with typical manufacturing methods.

CNC machining vs. 3D printing: Key distinctions

Product options

CNC machining can deal with a variety of materials, consisting of metals, composites, and plastics. This makes it a functional option for a selection of jobs. 3D printing, on the other hand, is restricted in terms of the products it can utilize. While there are now 3D printers efficient in publishing with metals and other materials, the substantial bulk of 3D printers use plastics.

Precision and also precision

CNC machining is known for its high precision, and can producing get rid of tolerances as tight as 0.001 inches. 3D printing, on the other hand, is typically less precise, and is usually restricted to tolerances of around 0.1 mm. While this may not be a concern for numerous jobs, it can be a worry for tasks that require very specific parts.

Production speed

CNC machining is normally faster than 3D printing when it pertains to generating big quantities of components. This is because CNC devices can work on several parts at once, while 3D printers are usually restricted to generating one part at a time. Nevertheless, 3D printing is usually quicker when it comes to creating small quantities of components, as there is no requirement to establish a device and also develop a tool path.


CNC machining is generally a lot more costly than 3D printing, particularly when it concerns creating small quantities of components. This is because CNC makers call for a significant amount of configuration time, and also the expense of the equipment and also tooling can be high. 3D printing, on the other hand, has a much reduced arrangement price, and also can be much more economical for small-scale production runs.

Recommended Read: 7 Effective Strategies to Reduce CNC Machining Costs

Design flexibility

One of the key advantages of 3D printing is its layout flexibility. 3D printing allows for complex geometries that would be challenging or difficult to achieve with CNC machining.

Which is much better?

So, which is the better alternative for your task– CNC machining or 3D printing? The solution depends on a selection of variables, including the size of the production run, the intricacy of the parts, and also the products being utilized.

For huge production runs of simple components, CNC machining is commonly the much better selection. CNC machining is much faster and much more cost-effective for creating huge quantities of parts, and also can attain very limited resistances.

For small-scale manufacturing runs or complex components, 3D printing is often the better selection. 3D printing enables intricate geometries as well as styles, and is extra affordable for generating small quantities of parts.

It’s additionally crucial to think about the products being made use of. If you require a certain material that is not compatible with 3D printing, then CNC machining may be the only alternative.

Eventually, the option in between CNC machining and 3D printing will depend upon your certain requirements as well as needs. It is very important to work with a reliable maker that can assist you figure out the best choice for your job.

Recommended Read: Mastering the Art of 5-Axis CNC Machining

Real-life examples

Let’s take a look at some real-life examples of how CNC machining as well as 3D printing are utilized in various markets.


The aerospace industry depends greatly on CNC machining for creating high-precision components for planes and also spacecraft. CNC machining is used to create everything from wind turbine blades to cabin instruments.

3D printing is also getting grip in the aerospace market, specifically for prototyping and creating small, elaborate parts. For instance, NASA has made use of 3D printing to develop rocket engine parts, and Jet has utilized 3D printing to develop cabin indoor components.

Medical devices

The medical device industry likewise counts greatly on CNC machining for producing high-precision parts. CNC machining is utilized to produce everything from surgical tools to prosthetics.

3D printing is additionally coming to be more typical in the medical gadget market, especially for producing personalized implants and prosthetics. 3D printing allows for patient-specific layouts and can create parts that are much more comfy and better-fitting than traditional prosthetics.


The vehicle industry uses both CNC machining as well as 3D printing for a variety of applications. CNC machining is made use of to produce every little thing from engine components to dashboards.

3D printing is significantly being used in the vehicle sector for developing prototypes and small-scale manufacturing runs of parts. Audi has utilized 3D printing to generate custom tooling for its assembly line, as well as Lamborghini has utilized 3D printing to produce parts for its Urus SUV.

Recommended Read: Debunking Misconceptions About CNC Machining


Both CNC machining and also 3D printing have their own advantages as well as disadvantages. CNC machining is quicker and extra precise, but can be much more pricey and limited in terms of layout adaptability. 3D printing is a lot more versatile as well as economical for small-scale manufacturing runs and also intricate parts, however is generally much less exact.

Inevitably, the choice between CNC machining and also 3D printing will rely on your specific needs and also requirements. It is essential to collaborate with a reliable manufacturer that can help you figure out the best alternative for your project, and to take into consideration elements such as the dimension of the production run, the complexity of the components, and the products being made use of.

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Want.Net Technical Team

Want.Net Technical Team

The Want.Net Technical Team has diverse members with extensive education and training in CNC machining. They prioritize precision, efficiency, and innovation to provide high-quality manufacturing solutions globally.

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