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CNC Prototyping vs 3D Printing | Rapid Prototyping in Houston, Texas

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CNC Prototyping vs 3D Printing

Prototyping of machine parts plays a crucial role in manufacturing. Prototypes allow developers to look and test a part for a strong fit without the time and expense of manufacturing large quantities. Since most designs will require some degree of tweaking, you’ll probably create several iterations of the prototype before getting exactly what you need. And the quicker you receive your prototypes, the faster you can get your finished product to market. When comparing CNC prototyping to 3D printing, Allied Threaded Metals in Houston, Texas recommends CNC rapid prototyping as the faster, more efficient process.

What to Know About 3D Printing for Prototyping

Building a 3D part layer by layer can take hours. In fact, your CAD model isn’t even enough to get you started. That’s because you will need to add support structures to prevent your 3D prototype from collapsing. Plus, the time spent doesn’t end after the actual printing. Once your part is printed, you will enter the post production phase of the process as outlined by Manufactur3D™. Additional cutting will be required, and most printing processes leave layers visible on the surface. So you can plan to spend additional time on grinding and sanding those off, too.

You will face material limitations with 3D printing, too. While metal printing has evolved quickly, these processes are limited by the need to deposit and fuse a powder. This means you may not be able to print the 3D part in the material you plan to use in production, creating major limitations not only for testing but for appearance as well.

Additionally, 3D printing of your prototype poses serious size limitations for your part. Most 3D printers on the market today have a working envelope no larger than a shoebox. CNC lathes and mills, on the other hand, offer much larger envelopes to meet your design specifications.

And CNC machining is more accurate than 3D printing, too. For example, Allied Threaded Metals team of experienced machinists are capable of turning up to 24.00” swing and 90.00” center. We also offer milling capabilities up to X-84.00”, Y-40.00”, Z-30.00” to meet even the most demanding parts specifications. For rapid prototyping in Houston, Texas, CNC machining simply provides faster, more accurate results in the materials you can get from 3D printing.

CNC Rapid Prototyping vs. 3D Printing for Your Parts & Components

Compare the 3D printing process and its inherent limitations to the speed and accuracy of CNC machining techniques. At Allied Threaded Metals, we can take your prototype from a CAD model to a machined part in just a few hours.

CNC machining provides other benefits over 3D production of your prototype as well.

  • You will receive your completed prototype in exactly the material you want
  • Your part will be fully suitable for functional testing without guesswork
  • Your part will be printed with final precision, meaning it will assemble to mating parts for better testing

With all of these benefits CNC machining provides over 3D printing, why would anyone prefer 3D printing for their prototype? There are some cases. For instance, perhaps all you need is a low fidelity part for examination or display purposes. Another case may be when you already plan to machine away most of the material. And finally, there are rare instances when the required features cannot be produced through machining. In most cases, however, for a highly functional, testable machine prototype, CNC machining is the highly preferred method of production.

Allied Threaded Metals – CNC prototyping in Houston, Texas

In most cases, CNC rapid prototyping is recommended over 3D development in creating your machine part prototypes. It is faster, more efficient, more accurate, and you will receive a functional, good-fitting part in the material you want.

Allied Threaded Metals in Houston, TX prides itself in delivering accurate quotes for its machining services for customers nationwide. We accommodate orders of all sizes and specifications and can machine parts from materials including aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, copper, bronze, and more. Whether you seek short-run prototypes or larger CNC machining orders, we have the machinery, skill, and integrity to deliver your product with high precision and low cost.

Contact Allied Threaded Metals to get your CNC rapid prototyping project started today.

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