Plastic Injection Molding VS 3D Print

In recent years, in the plastic manufacturing industry, 3D printing and injection molding have been compared, and some even say that 3D printing is the end of injection molding. Injection molding, a process in which liquid plastic is injected into a metal mold, is the most widely used process for making plastic parts, but alternatives such as vacuum casting and FDM 3D printing offer different advantages that offer designers and manufacturers great benefits. flexibility. After all, different projects may require different types of machines.

For manufacturers, which one of the two is more competitive is also one of the topics they are most concerned about. But in fact, these two technologies each have their own advantages, and sometimes they can be integrated or even complementary.

The injection molding industry has always suffered from high costs and long mold manufacturing cycles. 3D printing is another way to create tools that can save time and money. “There are various studies using 3D printing for the manufacture of injection molding tools,” said Buxani. “In addition, there are studies involving the use of simulations to evaluate part designs. However, there are minimal research findings that bring these perspectives together and The performance of L-PBF (laser-powder bed fusion) manufactured molds was evaluated. This study therefore took on the challenge of bringing together the individual expertise of each industry to create supply chain collaboration.”

In many cases, different technologies are used for different manufacturing stages. For example, 3D printing is often preferred for prototyping because it is simple, portable and has extremely low startup costs. Injection molding is often the process of choice for high-volume end-use parts because it is fast and highly repeatable. 3D printing technology serves the research and development stage, while injection molding is responsible for production. So, what is the difference between 3D printing and injection molding? Let’s take a look:

1.Comparison of the principles of injection molding and 3D printing technology:

Injection molding technology is based on the method of stirring completely molten plastic material through a screw at a certain temperature, injecting it into the mold cavity with high pressure, and then cooling and solidifying to obtain a molded product. 3D printing technology is a technology based on a rapid prototyping technology, based on digital model files, using powdered metal, plastic and other adhesive materials to construct objects through layer-by-layer printing.

2.Comparison of production modes between injection molding and 3D printing technology:

Injection molding technology requires the development and manufacturing of injection molds, which can produce standardized products at low cost and on a large scale. Therefore, it is better to use injection molding technology for traditional high-volume, large-scale manufacturing. 3D printing technology does not require traditional tools, fixtures, machine tools, etc., but relies on computer digital technology to quickly and directly create physical models of the current three-dimensional model. Therefore, 3D printing technology is more suitable for personalized and diversified product manufacturing.

3.Comparison of production costs between injection molding technology and 3D printing technology:

We all know that injection molding technology uses raw materials that are relatively easy to obtain, can produce large-scale standardized products, and can reduce the cost of a single piece. The 3D printing materials required by 3D printing technology are relatively rare and expensive. But there is still great promise. The real saving link of 3D printing technology lies in modifying the prototype. Only the CAD model is needed and no cost will be incurred.

4.Comparison of production quality between injection molding and 3D printing technology:

If you use a high-end 3D printer, you will know that the printed parts do not have the same physical properties. However, the parts produced by injection molding technology not only have more physical properties than 3D printing technology, but also produce parts with better surface finish and products with more durability. This is something that 3D printing technology does not have.

5.Comparison of application fields of injection molding and 3D printing technology:

Currently on the market, the injection molding process can realize mass production of items, and is more suitable for batch processing of a certain component for standardized production, such as the production of toys, aviation, aerospace, electronics, machinery and other fields. 3D printing is an emerging new technology. By using digital computer technology to make models, 3D printing materials can be made into the required models, which can effectively shorten the processing time. It is widely used in children’s education makers, architectural design and even the medical industry.

Yuanfang Mold provides turnkey engineering services from design to production, contact us immediately to start your custom plastic injection mold project.

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