In plastic manufacturing industry, 3D printing is usually compared with injection molding. There are a lot views that 3D printing will end injection molding. In terms of manufacturers, the competition between 3D printing and Injection Molding is also their consideration.
Denny Scher, the Marketing Manager of ICOMold considers that there is no fixed answer for the question. Different situations have different choices. The compare between 3D printing and injection molding
can be analyzed mainly on three aspects: quantity, quality and cost.
As is known to all, output depends on velocity. Compared with traditional techniques, plastic 3D printing is still slower. For large manufacturing, injection molding is still the best choice at present.
Even use the large production line, 3D printing is only use to manufacture mold. Product test and kernel program are not additive manufacturing.
One of limitations for 3D printing is that the manufactured products do not have the same physical properties. At this point, injection molding wins the competition. Although categories of materials through 3D printing seem to increase constantly, 3D printing still has less categories, compared with injection molding. So, if the materials are different from the final products through 3D printing, it is not useful for the test of physical properties.
Another point is the surface roughness. Roughness of products manufactured by 3D printing largely depends on the performances of printing equipment. However, compared with polished stainless steel injection mold, 3D printing falls behind.
Lastly, in terms of endurance, compared with injection molded parts, 3D printing also falls behind slightly.
Cost saving is always one of the main advantages of 3D printing. Except for quality, the cost of 3D printing is less than injection molding, in terms of cost.
For manufacturing, the link for truly saving cost in 3D printing is modifying prototype. Just modifying CAD model can change the prototype, without causing any manufacturing costs.
In injection molding, if the model is steel mold, the cost is relatively low. However, if the mold is made of aluminum alloy, the cost is quite high.
But, what should be noticed that there is more and more software for manufacturing the prototype for injection molding. 3D printing may lose its cost advantage in the future.