How 3D Surface Milling is Changing Manufacturing

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How 3D Surface Milling is Changing Manufacturing - Monday, March 21, 2016

Over the past several decades additive manufacturing more popularly known as 3D printing technology has been giving traditional manufacturing methods a run for their money. 

The process that may have felt the most impact is machining, or subtractive manufacturing, in which excess material is removed in order to produce consistently-made products. 

Why 3D Printing?

Additive manufacturing involves the process of binding layers of material together to create a product. Because additive manufacturing enables users to develop and modify products quickly before undertaking the expensive processed associated with subtractive manufacturing, the variety of applications for 3D printing is wide. 

As this technology becomes more accessible to the global public, users have started to make innovations across a diverse array of industries, including automotive, aviation, manufacturing, and medical.

One of the more obvious advantages of additive manufacturing over the more traditional Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining is faster production cycles. A lot of the steps involved in traditional manufacturing processes are eliminated in additive manufacturing like the right side/s to be machined, what kind of cutter to use, preparation of a block of raw material in the correct dimensions, et cetera. The goal of 3D printing is to streamline the manufacturing process until it eventually requires just a couple of steps: entering a program in the printer, loading the raw materials, and assembling the parts of the product when they are finished.

Aside from rapid manufacturing, 3D printing also reduces overhead costs that goes with inventory and warehouse because items can be printed as needed. Unique products such as human organs can potentially be made using 3D printing devices.

Why High-Speed 3D Surface Milling?

Despite the emergence of 3D printing technology, traditional manufacturing continues to hold an important place in the business world. The development of products makes it quite challenging for 3D printers to compete with the economies of scale available through traditional processes.

The main edge of CNC machining over 3D printing is the choice of materials that can be used to manufacture products. Things like layer thickness and surface quality are executed more precisely, albeit more slowly, in CNC machines than in 3D printers. Moreover, high-speed 3D surface milling is effective at achieving the following goals: increased machining productivity, enhanced machining economy, improved quality of the machined surface, and better ecological impact of machining.

Since CNC machining has been used for a very long time, 3D surface mills are more suitable for projects that require ready-to-use and high-precision materials. On the other hand, 3D printers have become ideal for visual representations and conceptual prototypes. Both methods can be utilized within these areas, although they differ greatly in efficiency and quality.

Why Choose?

The debate on 3D printing versus 3D surface milling pretty much boils down to capability and quality versus price and efficiency, with the determining factors being budget and need. We also have to remember that 3D printing technology is relatively new and as such, it still lags behind CNC machining in several key areas. 

The good news is as additive manufacturing develops, it may become just as significant as its subtractive counterpart. In the meantime, both technologies hold their respective places, side by side, in the word of manufacturing.


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