The Case for 3D Printing in Machine Shops
A small 3D printer frees up CNC machining capacity by producing tooling and prototypes so the machine tools don’t have to.
I wrote an article for Modern Machine Shop magazine arguing that we will come to take it for granted that machine shops use 3D printers. Job shops in particular will routinely use them, because a small 3D printer can save these shops money by freeing up their CNC machines. Job shops frequently have to occupy both their machine tools and machining personnel with making important but non-production items such as prototypes and custom tooling. The 3D printer can generate these items instead, keeping the machining capacity devoted to production use.
You can read that MMS article here. We have also posted many articles over time that support or illustrate this point....
Read here about 3D printing for prototyping.
Read here about 3D printing for tooling.
And check out this collection of articles about 3D printing and additive manufacturing in use in machining job shops.
Analyzing directed energy deposition and powder-bed fusion provides a thorough understanding of the extra machining necessary for a “near-net shape” versus a “net shape” manufacturing process.
Jabil is getting ready for additive manufacturing to take its place as a production option in addition to conventional processes such as molding and machining. AM can and will fill this role, the company says — the focus now is on controlling cost and assuring quality and reliability.
Far from being opposite or competitive processes, additive manufacturing and CNC machining actually go together. They belong in the same machine.