Will Metal 3D Printing Replace the CNC Machine in the Near Future?

3D printing is expected to be the future of manufacturing as technology keeps improving every day. Because of their democratization capability of the production of goods from food and medical supplies to great coral reefs, they are going to make their way into business, homes, disaster sites and even to the outer space. Continuous improvements and innovation can replace CNC machines. However, in some cases, CNC machines can be required.

Metal 3D printing:

It is the process used to create three-dimensional parts from the digital file, and also called additive manufacturing (AM). The process involves the building and solidifying the thin layer of the particular material to create the desired product. The 3D printers are used to create complex shapes that are difficult or impossible for other machines. The additive manufacturing introduces many opportunities and possibilities. It can reduce the tools (hand tools and milling tools) and minimize the material cost. The additive manufacturing allows the users to combine multiple components in the production process. The 3D printers are restricted to use only plastic, resin or metal material.

CNC machines:

Milling is the subtracted method in which machines take the block of material like (aluminum, wood, thermoplastic, ceramic and metal) and it's all unnecessary parts with its sharp cutters or blades. CNC mills are computer controlled. The user feeds the code in the computer which controls the cutter. The codes instruct the machine and make the desired product.


- The 3D metal printers are restricted to metal material only. The thermoplastics can be mixed with other material like wood or ceramic. It cannot cut the blocks and make shapes; it can only make layers of metal to produce the shape. The CNC machines can work with different materials like (wood, metal, copper, etc.).

- Both use different materials but metal 3D printer takes more time than CNC machines. The 3D printers take time to build layers. The CNC machines and cut the solids in a few minutes.

- While cutting solid materials from CNC machines can be extremely noisy. It can be fast removing of solid parts but makes loud noises. But the 3D printers are almost soundless.

- CNC milling cuts the material from the block and turns them into the shape, and also makes the area messy or even you have to clean the machine after finishing one product. On the other side, the 3D printer has less mess. There is no need to clean printers on every print.

- There is a lot of material waste while using CNC milling machines. It cuts the unnecessary material from the blocks. Whereas, the 3D printers make layers of material according to the desired shape.

- The CNC machines can perform well in manufacturing work-pieces. And the 3D printers are used for building food and for building purpose and have different fields of applications or codes. The new technology of 3D printer is also used in space.

- The prices may vary according to the product type. Comparing on the average level the 3D printer can be available from low rates. However, CNC milling machines are a bit expensive.

In short metal 3D printer cannot replace the CNC milling machines; there are a lot of differences in their way of working and usage. However, the influence of 3D printing is exciting and unstoppable, with the use of some heavy lifting yet to be done. The advancement in the technology of 3D printer may replace the CNC machine in the future.

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