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When should you 3D print your prototype?

When should you 3D print your prototype?

Need a prototype machined? Hand Precision Machining offers both traditional machining (CNC) as well as 3D plastics printing. Here’s a rundown of the basic differences, and when it is the right option for you to have your prototype printed.

CNC Machining

CNC Machining (Computer Numerical Control) is done typically on a CNC lathe or CNC mill. Programs manually produced or written in MasterCam software produce a code read by the machine and then use the pre-loaded tools in the mill or lathe to remove material from the original piece of stock.

Benefits of CNC Machining:

  • High tolerance machining
  • Parts can be machined in metals, plastics, thermoplastics and composites
  • Prototypes can have structural tests run on them

Drawbacks of CNC Machining;

  • Generally more expensive to produce prototypes using CNC machines
  • Often requires more turnaround time to CNC machine than to print
  • Some design limitations based on tool size and path, and machine capability

3D Prototype Printing

Hand Precision Machining houses an Objet Eden 250 printer. This Polyjet printer produces parts by printing fine layers of plastic material to create a precise 3D model. The printer works very similarly to an ink printer, except it prints a liquid photopolymer instead of ink.

Benefits of 3D Plastics Printing:

  • Quick turnaround time
  • Cheaper way to produce prototypes to review design, size, features, etc.
  • Designs can be quite intricate and detailed
  • Models can be designed in white, black, blue or gray
  • Parts are printed as one complete assembly

Drawbacks of 3D Plastics Printing:

  • May not be able to complete structural testing
  • Size limit of 10.2×10.2×7.9

While Hand Precision Machining is typically known for its CNC machining capabilities, our 3D prototype printer offers a quick, cost-effective option for reviewing prototypes design and putting your hands and eyes on complex 3D parts.

Still not sure the right option for you? Give Hand Precision Machining a call to have one of our qualified machinists review your design with you.