CNC milling v.s 3d printing
You are here: Home » News » Industrial Knowledge » CNC milling v.s 3d printing
Phone : +86-15968042418
Tel : +86-574-28859156  
​Fax : +86-574-86643579

CNC milling v.s 3d printing

Views: 0     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2019-05-19      Origin: Site


facebook sharing button
twitter sharing button
line sharing button
wechat sharing button
linkedin sharing button
pinterest sharing button
whatsapp sharing button
sharethis sharing button


CNC milling or 3D printing, which one should I buy?” This is one of the hottest issues in the near future, and people are still as confused as they were a few years ago.

The design of 3D printing technology will go deep into it, but CNC (computer numerical control) milling also provides great competition for this. If you have recently considered purchasing a professional 3D printer to meet your needs, you must read and understand this short essay.


1. How CNC milling and 3D printing work?

2. The differences between CNC milling and 3D printing


How CNC milling and 3D printing work?

  • 3D Printing: More well known is the additive manufacturing technique, where 3D printing uses digital images of objects, followed by the use of devices (3D printers) that print 3D objects in subsequent layers until the fully developed objects are ready for use. You can find a variety of technologies in 3D printing, and it offers a variety of material options. They build 3D objects (additive manufacturing) from scratch and layer by layer.

  • CNC Milling: This is the opposite of 3D printing, also known as subtractive manufacturing. CNC milling machines use a solid material (such as aluminum or wood) and use a sharp rotating tool or cutter to remove all unwanted parts. The CNC milling machine is controlled by a computer. The computer provides them with machine-specific code that controls the cutting tool (just like the G code used by 3D printers). The model of the CNC milling machine was created using 3D modeling software, the so-called CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) software application.


The differences between CNC milling and 3D printing

Let's take some basic considerations and compare these techniques to find the best one:

  • Precision

CNC milling provides high precision work. Some of them, such as the Nomad 883 and Pocket NC, offer extremely high precision of 0.001 inches and tolerances of 0.005 inches. But here, if the cutting tool is dull or damaged, the mill is worn out, or the data provided by the CAM software is insufficient, you may see some inaccuracies that will damage the game.

Some 3D printers (e.g. CEL Robox, Zortrax M200) promise very high precision but fail to deliver it from time to time. There are a wide number of reasons, such as blocked nozzle and inadequate temperature etc, where 3D printed results could turn to be faulty.

  • Variety of materials

CNC milling machines can handle a wide variety of materials: metal alloys (eg: aluminum, steel alloys, brass, copper), cork and hardwood, thermoplastics, acrylics, styling foams, processing waxes (for creating positive models for casting) . For different materials, you may need different cutting tools, but the tool-to-machine interface is usually standardized - so tools can be easily replaced.

For 3D printing, you can use a variety of different devices. Therefore, you can expect a wide variety of printed materials. For example, you can use ABS, nylon, thermoplastics, ceramics, various precious metals and non-precious metals, alloys, wood and paper for 3D printing. In addition, today people buy food 3D printers, and can easily print consumables such as chocolate. Don't forget that 3D printing also gave birth to bio-printers, and researchers were able to print 3D body parts, tissues, bone 3D brackets and other lifesaving elements.

  • Noise and vibrations

CNC milling produces a lot of noise depending on the materials used. Using a large diameter tool to cut metal or wood (to quickly remove large parts) can make your ears deafening. The hum of a desktop 3D printer without a casing is like a soft, elegant. However, when cutting the wax model, the noise of the CNC milling machine is barely noticeable. When working on metal or wood blocks, CNC milling machines can also vibrate a lot - you don't want to put it close to your desktop (even if you wear protective gear to block the noise).

Almost wholly against this, 3D printing involves negligible noise and vibrations. You could use a personal 3D printer to print objects at home and this never turns to inform others with its sounds.

  • Trash and messiness

CNC milling means cutting materials with a rotating tool. As a result, there are many materials that are ejected and can be very sharp (for example, wood or metal fragments). Not all CNC milling machines are completely enclosed when processing a piece of material - so things get very messy. For closed mills, once the workpiece is completed, the internal chaos must be cleaned up.

3D printing technology is the undoubted winner in this. When something goes wrong, however, you may need to remove thermoplastics. But that is nothing compared to cleaning up after CNC milling.


  • Cost price

This is easy to compare. For CNC mills, you need rather a big investment. The starter equipment could burn no less than $2000 from your pocket.

And you do not always need to buy the best 3D printers always and suitable desktop 3D printers could be obtained for a decent price of $500.

  • Speed

When comparing speeds, you need to evaluate both processes for different reasons. For example, CNC milling works faster when cutting material from solid blocks of objects. However, complex machining still takes hours.

In 3D printing, the speed is usually slower than its comparison partner. However, it is expected to be able to easily print the most complex and complex 3D objects without any hassle.

  •  Range of applications

CNC milling is the better solution when manufacturing workpieces that need to be extremely robust and precise and/or heat-resistant.

3D printing has more exotic fields of application: It can be used for bioprinting, for printing food, for building purposes, and it can be used in space (e.g. on the ISS or in future space missions).


In summary, it can be concluded that 3D printing technology is better and more cost effective than CNC milling technology. While the latter offers significant competition for its partners in some respects, 3D printing is gaining an edge considering the latest trends in printed food and bio-printing. Therefore, you can choose the most suitable one relate to your own needs.









China OEM Metal Parts Manufacctuer -Custom CNC Machining , CNC Turning , CNC Milling & Metal Stamping Parts. Material Involved in Stainless Steel, Carbon Steel, Aluminum, Brass, Copper, Plastic, etc.




Copyright  2023 Ningbo OEM Industry Manufacturer Ltd. All rights reserved.   Sitemap
 Ready To Start Your Project?