What is 3D Printing?

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing, otherwise known as additive manufacturing, is a manufacturing process that builds a part layer by layer. A computer sends instructions to the 3D printer, which deposits or hardens material in a preprogrammed pattern, creating layers in succession.

There are several kinds of 3D printer, some of which are used to print plastic parts, others to print parts made from metal or other materials. While these various 3D printing technologies are diverse, they have certain features in common.

3D printing has revolutionized manufacturing by giving businesses access to a one-step manufacturing technology. 3D printers can be set up in offices and small workspaces, and require minimal training to operate. Moreover, 3D printing startup costs are incredibly low, since materials are affordable and can be purchased in small quantities.

3D Printing Vs CNC Machining:

Which Is Right For Your Prototype And Production?

Subtractive & Additive Manufacturing

3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing, which builds parts through layers of materials.     It has many advantages over traditional manufacturing processes however it has its problems.

CNC machining is a fairly common subtractive technique used for parts manufacturing, which creates parts by cutting off the blank.

Materials & Availability

The 3D printing process involves parts being created layer by layer using materials such as liquid photopolymer resins (SLA), drops of photopolymer (PolyJet), plastic or metal powders (SLS/DMLS), and plastic filaments (FDM).     So it produces less waste compared with CNC process.

CNC machining is to cut from a whole piece of material, so the utilization rate of the material is relatively low.     The advantage is that almost all materials can be CNC machined, including production-grade engineering plastics and various metal materials.     This means that CNC machining may be the most viable technique for prototypes and end-use mass-produced parts that require high functionality and special performance.

Accuracy, Surface Quality & Geometric Complexity

3D printing can create parts with highly complex geometries even hollow shapes that cannot be done by CNC machining, such as jewelry, crafts, etc.   CNC machining offers greater dimensional accuracy (±0.005mm) and much better surface finishes (Ra 0.1μm).   The advanced 5-axis CNC milling machines can perform high-precision machining of more complex parts that will help you meet your most difficult manufacturing challenges.

Cost, Quantity & Delivery Time

3D printing typically produces low quantities of parts without tooling, and without human intervention, so that fast turnaround and low cost are possible.   The manufacturing cost of 3D printing is priced based on the number of materials, which means that the larger parts or more quantities cost more.   The process of CNC machining is complex, it requires specially trained engineers to pre-program the processing parameters and processing path of parts, and then machining according to the programs.   Manufacturing costs are therefore quoted taking the extra labor into account.   However, CNC machines can continuously run without human supervision, making them perfect for larger volumes.

How to Select 3D Printing Process?

You can set up a consultation and planning phase with our team of additive manufacturing experts.We will assistance in finding which 3D printing process is the right fit for you!

3D Printing Process Introduction

3D Printing Process Characteristic

AdvantagesDisadvantagesTypical accuracyTypical layer height
SLA• High resolution
• No visible layer lines; smooth finish
• Option of clear materials
• Printers more expensive than FDM
• Weak parts; will degrade with sunlight
• Extensive post-processing required
• ± 0.5% (desktop)
• ± 0.15% (industrial)
• 25-100 microns

Parts have consistent
mechanical properties

• No support structures
• Porosity
• Rough surface finish
• ± 0.3%• 100-120 microns
SLM• Strong and hard parts
• Complex shapes
• Limited build size
• High cost
• ± 0.1mm• 20-50 microns

• Most affordable 3D printing process
for plastic parts

• Material options
• Widely available
• Comparatively low resolution
• Produces visible layer lines
• ± 0.5% (desktop)
• ± 0.15% (industrial)
• 50-400 microns

3D Printing Process Materials


We attach great importance to customers' needs for product quality and rapid production.

We always insist that meeting customers' needs is to realize our value!