While 3D printing and Injection molding share some of the same concepts,
however, there are some differences too.
3D printing is more of an additive process. Injection molding, hence the name, makes use of molds.
As 3D printing continues to develop and advance, people are wondering will this replace injection molding?
The answer is yes and no.
What I mean by that is, yes it will replace injection molding eventually in time,
but can it replace it right now or soon, the answer is no.
In this article, I will talk about a brief overview of 3D printing and injection molding so you can get an understanding of the two first and then talk
about why 3D printing will eventually replace injection molding
What is 3D Printing?
When it comes to 3D printing, you obviously need a 3D printer, and you need the material or filament you are going to use in order to 3D print something.
The filament is fed into the printer, melted, and then pushed out onto the printer’s bed to begin the making of the object.
Your object will be coming from a computer-generated model file.
Remember how you use to watch your grandma squeeze on an icing bag to ice a cake or maybe you did so yourself?
because that motion is exactly the motion of the filament in order to form your object.
Filament comes in a variety of materials too.
As stated before filament comes in a variety of materials.
Thermoplastics are specifically used for beginners.
Here are some materials used in 3D printing:
- Carbon Fiber
What Can it Make?
These below are just to name a few.
- Organ tissue/Organ
- 3D models
- Phone Case
What is Injection Molding?
Injection molding has been around since the 1800s and many manufacturing companies use this method.
If you need to produce parts in large volume then injection molding is the way to go.
Or if time is not on your side, then this is a better method for you.
And just like 3D printing that requires the use of a 3D printer,
for injection molding you need a molding machine.
It uses many materials but plastic is the most common.
The plastic fills up the mold cavity taking its shape, it cools down, then it hardens.
The newly created casting is removed from the mold cavity.
The reason why this process is called injection molding because it consists of injecting material into a mold cavity.
There are many materials that can be used in this process.
The majority of polymers can be used as well as thermoplastics.
Before the molding process, the raw form of these materials is typically fine powder and color can be added into the process to determine the color of the final part.
Depending on the material, the final part’s durability and function can be affected.
Here are some materials used listed below:
What Can it Make?
Injection molding focuses on producing thin=walled parts for a variety of applications.
but can also make common household items such as:
- manufactured parts
- small toys
- household appliances
- medical tools
3D Printing Vs Injection Molding
3D printing has advantages over injection molding,
but injection molding will not be replaced by 3D printing soon as you think.
It will take many many years before this truly happens.
Injection molding has been around for over 100 years and had so much time to develop whereas 3D printing only been around for 30 years.
So it still needs to advance.
Injection molding machines can create objects faster and there is more quality.
Even in many cases, there is better accuracy than 3D printers.
3D printing is constantly evolving and there is still a lot of research that needs to be done.
The nice thing about 3D printing though is that if you need to change or tweak the design, all you need to do is go into your computer-generated file if you need to and do so.
Injection molding, you have to make sure the mold is precise because if not, essentially you have to get another mold made, which is more money
As stated earlier,
in time there is a possibility that injection molding can be replaced by 3D printing,
but not until there is more development.