CNC Machining vs. 3D Printing

<p>Have you ever been to a tradeshow? You know, where companies set up booths to show off their products and services to try and win over new clients? Yeah, I go to a few of those each year to showcase our expertise in precision machining and stamping of plastic and composite materials. At these events, I usually run into two types of people: engineering contacts and purchasing contacts. There are also the harebrained inventors too, but don't get me started on them. One thing I get asked a lot by both engineers and buyers when they see some of the parts we've made is if they were 3D printed. The answer is always no, they are machined.</p><p>While some of our machined parts might look like they were 3D printed, everything we do in-house is 100% CNC machined from stock shapes of various plastic and composite materials. This might be obvious to those who are familiar with machining or have a manufacturing background, but it might not be as clear to those who don't get to see all the details that go into making CNC machined parts on a regular basis. There are a lot of differences between CNC machining and 3D printing, one of which is that CNC machining is a subtractive process, whereas 3D printing is an additive process.</p><p>Here's an image of a part we made for one of our customers from PEEK rod that demonstrates this subtractive process. On the right, you can see that we start with a PEEK slug that we machine a dovetail into. On the left, you can see a nearly finished PEEK part that just needs one final operation on the bottom side to be complete. It's like magic, but more math and less wands.</p><div class="embedded_image" data-layout="default" contenteditable="false"><img alt="" src=""></div><p>If you're looking for an ISO certified supplier to help you with any of your complex machined plastic or composite parts, drop us a line.</p>