As technology progresses, it revolutionizes the manufacturing industry especially engineering and the pieces of machinery. In order to be the leader, you must use the best equipment to lead the business forward. Some of these advancements in the manufacturing process are computer numeric control (CNC) machining and 3D printing. Both of them work with varied materials but how can we determine which is the one we need?

CNC machining and 3D printing have their strengths and weaknesses, and each of them has unique benefits to offer to the manufacturing process. The preference depends on the availability and the cost. In general, their main differences are in the size of the parts, available materials, scale, and waste and production style.

The advantage of CNC Machining Over 3D Printing

It is a fact that CNC machining is the preferred manufacturing style because it can manufacture bigger products and can withstand heat-resistance. 3D printing, on the other hand, has a more specific category like working in space and printing food.

CNC machining is compatible in mass-producing products because it can make products faster while 3D printers need hours to finish one product.

Prototyping is Easier with CNC Machining

When it comes to prototyping, most manufacturing companies prefer to use CNC machines because the can handle basic tests. The reason for this is the design is carved from a material. Since it can deal with a wide range of material, you can use the same exact material in making the finished product.

With this advantage of CNC machines, you will have accurate alterations and structural tests given that you used the exact material. The production will be faster because the improvements are in the design instead of doing it in the material. In 3D printers, this is not the case.

Improves Integrity of the Prototype

The CNC machining does not apply heat to the material while in production. As a result, the material will remain stronger and therefore has superior structural strength than the product of the 3D printer. In 3D printers, aside from the material, it adds additional components to make a prototype.

Surface Finish

A product from a 3D printer will not measure to the finish of a product from the CNC machine for the reason that the materials are not distorted in during production. The rigidity of the material and its cutting action maintains the integrity of the product. There are also fewer chances of making mistakes or deformity in the process. The 3D printer has an inferior surface finish because the material distorts warps and bends during the process.

Higher Tolerance Level

Since CNC machines are more precise, the parts produced have better tolerance compared to 3D printers. In prototypes where parts are produced to connect, or shafts has better quality, and they will fit perfectly with other sections.

Volume and Price

The cost of 3D printing is dependent on the bulk of materials used while the final volume of the product does not influence the price of CNC machines. Therefore, 3D printing is not good for large volume production. This is where CNC machining excels because this manufacturing style is cost-effective.


If you have to make a decision on which type of manufacturing method you will use for a particular product, just remember that using CNC machining offers a better option for large volume production and is a more cost-effective option over 3D printing.