CNC Machining vs. 3D Printing

First, 3D printing is an additive technology. CNC machining is a material reduction technology, so there is a big difference in materials. As the professional CNC machining company, let us tell you the main differences in detail.

CNC Machining vs 3D Printing

1. Material

3D printing materials mainly include liquid resin (SLA), nylon powder (SLS), metal powder (SLM), gypsum powder (full color printing), sandstone powder (full color printing), wire (DFM), sheet (LOM) and many others. Liquid resin, nylon powder and metal powder account for the majority of industrial 3D printing.

CNC machining materials are a piece of sheet metal, is a kind of plate material. By measuring the length, width and height of the part, cut out the corresponding size of the plate for machining. CNC machining materials have more options than 3D printing. General metal hardwares, plastic pieces can all be CNC machined, and forming density is better than 3D printing.

CFS Machinery is very professional on stainless steel CNC machining and aluminum CNC machining services.

2. Production Process

As we mentioned above, 3D printing is additive manufacturing. It works by cutting the model into N layers /N points and stacking them up one by one or bit by bit, like building blocks. Therefore, 3D printing can efficiently produce parts with complex structures, such as hollow parts, while It is more difficult to produce hollow parts by CNC Machining.

CNC machining is a material reduction manufacturing process,through a variety of high-speed running tools, it works by cutting out the required parts according to the programming tool path. Therefore, CNC machining can only produce rounded corners with a certain curvature, can not directly process the inner right Angle, which is achieved through linear cutting or spark and other processes. External right-angle CNC processing is no problem. Therefore, 3D printing with inner right Angle parts can be considered.

Besides, if the parts have a large surface area, 3D printing is recommended. CNC machining of surface processing is time-consuming, if the programming and operation experience is not enough, it is easy to leave obvious lines on the parts.

3. Operating Software

Most 3D printing software is easy to use, and even laymen can master the software under professional instruction in around two days. Because slicing software is currently optimized to be very simple, it can automatically generate support, which is why 3D printing can be popularized for individual users.

CNC machining software is much more complex and requires professionals to operate. People with no foundation usually study for about half a year. In addition, a CNC operator is required to operate the CNC machine.

4. Post Treatment

There are few post treatment options for 3D printed parts, such as polishing, spraying, deburring and dyeing.

CNC machining parts have a variety of post-treatment options, in addition to grinding, oil injection, deburring, electroplating, screen printing, pad printing, metal oxidation, laser engraving, sand blasting and so on.


CNC machining and 3D printing have their advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right process can make a huge difference to your project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *