Injection Molding Vs. 3D Printing——Which One Should You Choose?
Which One Should You Choose: Injection Molding or 3D Printing
Before starting any project, it is essential to know which manufacturing technique is appropriate for the project. Several factors influence the selection of the best process or method. It is necessary to select a manufacturing technique that is highly adapted and an industry standard. Manufacturing plastic parts is a fruitful business. It employs a few manufacturing techniques; 3D printing (additive manufacturing) and injection molding. You need to choose the most suitable approach to improve the life quality of your part.
You can recognize the best technique by going through a few vital factors, such as time, volumes, budget, and precision, etc. Let us help you choose the most appropriate manufacturing technique by sharing the essential details.
Choosing Between Injection Molding and 3D Printing
Injection molding and 3D printing are the most widely used manufacturing techniques in the plastic parts manufacturing industry. However, they are dissimilar and suitable for different sorts of projects. The selection of the manufacturing approach depends mainly on your specific requirements. Injecting molten material into the mold may look more professional, but additive manufacturing is becoming its excellent alternative for different reasons.
3D printing is known for creating parts with precision, while its counterpart has its unique benefits. Both techniques can assist you with your production and quick prototyping process. The two manufacturing techniques have unique advantages respectively, so you need to decide which approach suits your project the most.
Differentiating 3D Printing and Injection Molding
If we talk about the conventional manufacturing technique, then it has to be injection molding. In this manufacturing, you inject a material into the cavity of the mold to manufacture the part. The molten material present in the mold shapes the part，so the material you use must be high-quality. After the material cools down, it takes the final solid part shape.
On the other hand, 3D printing or additive manufacturing is how you manufacture parts by adding the material layer after layer. The most significant advantage of additive manufacturing is that you don’t need to produce a mold to manufacture the part. You need one 3D file, and that’s it. Several 3D printing materials and technologies are available, making the entire process fast and straightforward.
Injection molding is a manufacturing technique that requires special equipment, and you need specific machines for molding plastics and other materials. Such machines contain things like injection ram, heating unit, and material hopper. It is a little expensive way of making molds through this technique. Moreover, there are also limitations in prototyping possibilities with this technique. For instance, it will prove very costly if you try to make multiple iterations for recreating your molds.
Such molds are generally made using steel. Therefore, it becomes a complex task to modify things and may not adapt to the prototype development. However, it is a perfect manufacturing technique for producing parts in large volumes. But, it would help if you did not forget the extra high costs associated with this manufacturing technique, including extended needed turnaround time and tooling.
（2）3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing
You can use additive manufacturing in several ways. The possible choices are 3D printers, including FDM printers and bigger printers. You can use an FDM printer when you require achieving a three-dimensional printing filament. Invest in the bigger or professional printers, like SLS or 3D printers, for more significant projects. However, buying your own bigger printer would cost you more and may prove expensive.
Alternatively, you can outsource your 3D printing tasks to a provider. It will save you a lot of money while still fulfilling your manufacturing needs. Additive manufacturing is fast and becoming popular every day.
When your business requires more significant production of the parts, there can’t be anything better than Injection molding. This technology is still perfect and precise in terms of repeatability. You also have an array of materials that you can use with this technique. Each material can have hundreds of variations that can lead to various properties every time. There are endless possibilities and properties for material cost, flexibility, and weight.
This method is perfectly suitable to produce parts in large volumes. Apart from that, it is also the best choice when you need detailed features in your part. Adding details to the parts is straightforward with this technique. The extra benefits include enhanced strength and the use of fillers in molds.
On the other hand, additive manufacturing also has several unique advantages. For that, it has become a great competitor of conventional manufacturing techniques. First of all, making several iterations quickly time without any extra costs makes this technique superior to other techniques. There was a time when this technique was known as a quick prototyping technique. However, this is not true anymore. Today, it is recognized as the most reliable manufacturing technique across the world.
Nonetheless, prototyping easily and quickly is still one of the key advantages of this technique. With 3D printing, you have the choice to print the project for testing purposes and create any modifications you need using the CAD software. Therefore, you can make as many changes as required to make a perfect final design of your project. The flexibility in making modifications several times makes this technique cost-efficient and time-efficient.
Another advantage of 3D printing over other techniques is that it evades the chances of material waste. You need just the exact material required for manufacturing in additive manufacturing. Additionally, you will eliminate the risks of several inventory issues and costs.
Both manufacturing techniques are highly adapted manufacturing techniques in the parts manufacturing industry. 3D printing is best when you need to iterate the part design repeatedly to make necessary modifications. On the other hand, injection molding is suitable for high-volume production goals and where part detail is of utmost importance. It also supports almost unlimited materials for molding purposes. Both techniques have unique benefits and are appropriate for different types of projects. Therefore, you should choose the manufacturing technique as per your project requirements.