3D Printing vs CNC Machining

Three-dimensional printing (3D printing) and computer numerical control machining (3D CNC machining) are two technologies widely used in manufacturing and prototyping today. Both technologies can make complex parts and components with high accuracy, but there are some differences that may make one better suited to a given task than the other.

The creation of parts and components is one of the primary distinctions between 3D printing and CNC machining. As an additive process, 3D printing works by adding successive layers of material to a digital model of a part. Instead, material is subtracted from a solid block during CNC machining.

The range of materials that can be used in 3D printing is much greater than that of CNC machining. While CNC machining is typically limited to metals and certain types of plastic, 3D printing can print with a wide range of materials, including plastics, metals, and composites.

Since CNC machining can produce more consistent results with greater precision, it is often preferred to 3D printing for high-precision applications. While this was once the case, advancements in 3D printing technology have allowed for greater precision and improved surface quality.

To sum up, both 3D printing and CNC machining are formidable techniques, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The size and complexity of the part or component, the material being used, and the required level of accuracy and finish all play a role in determining the most appropriate technology for a particular project.

About the Author: Reynaldo Santana

Author, Ph.D. Candidate in 3D Printing Construction, Ted Talk Speaker, 3D Printing Consultant & Mastermind Group Creator.


“3D Printing vs CNC Machining: Which is Right for Your Project?” (https://www.protolabs.com/resources/3d-printing-vs-cnc-machining)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *