Advanced technologies and tools have made manufacturing easier than ever. Nowadays, anyone with basic knowledge of design software and electronics can design and produce products from scratch. Two of the most popular manufacturing technologies are injection molding and 3D printing. When developing a new product, most OEMs can’t decide which one will suit their project better—so we’ve compared both processes in this blog.
Injection Molding and 3D Printing—an Overview
Injection molding and 3D printing are both manufacturing processes that develop physical objects by combining various materials. They deliver stronger, more efficient, and lighter products than other conventional methods.
As the name suggests, injection molding involves feeding molten plastic, metal, or other materials into a mold to create a product. 3D printing works on a layers mechanism and uses ink-like material. While both methods require specific machines and materials, they both have differences in terms of methodology and functionality.
When to Use 3D Printing
3D printing has quick turnaround times of 1-2 weeks and delivers faster results than injection molding. However, you can only produce 100 parts or fewer using this technology, and these are often small in size.
3D printing is suited for companies that need frequent changes in their products, or have shorter development times for their product. If you’re in the early phases of product development, you can use 3D printers to develop prototypes to test their functionality.
When to Use Injection Molding
Despite the innovativeness and high speed of 3D printing, injection molding is still the most preferred plastic manufacturing process worldwide. This choice is understandable because injection molding can produce over 1000 parts per cycle (in an hour or so). Moreover, this process can develop plastic parts of any size and complexity ensuring high precision and consistency. You can use this technology for final production as it isn’t suited for low-volume prototype production. Also, it takes around 5-7 weeks for this process to finish manufacturing.
Creating a mold is one of the most lengthy and expensive stages of the injection molding process. Most companies use 3D printing to design an accurate mold and save time and tooling costs.
When developing a product, the choice of technology and method depends on your budget, development time, and production requirements. It’s best to hire an engineering design firm that can offer all solutions under one roof, like Connekt LLC.
We have leading industry professionals from every field who offer custom injection molding and 3D-printed prototypes according to your needs. You can also get Finite Element Analysis consulting services to predict any shortcomings of your product and overcome them before the final launch.