Injection Molding vs 3D Printing

3D printing is an additive technology used to manufacture parts. It is ‘additive’ in that it doesn’t require a block of material or a mold to manufacture physical objects, it simply stacks and fuses layers of material. It’s typically fast, with low fixed setup costs, and can create more complex geometries than ‘traditional’ technologies, with an ever-expanding list of materials. It is used extensively in the engineering industry, particularly for prototyping and creating lightweight geometries.

Injection molding is a manufacturing process that allows for parts to be produced in large volumes. It works by injecting molten materials into a mold . It is typically used as a mass production process to manufacture thousands of identical items. Injection molding materials include metals, glasses, elastomers and confections, although it is most commonly used with thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers.


Using additive manufacturing is offering many advantages, making it a real alternative to traditional manufacturing techniques. First, 3D printing is perfect to make iteration. For a long time, additive manufacturing was considered a rapid prototyping technique. It is not the case anymore, as it also became quite a reliable manufacturing technique. But prototyping quickly and easily is still among the best advantages offered by this manufacturing technique. While using additive manufacturing, you can print your project in order to test it, make all your modifications using your 3D modeling software, and print it once again to validate your changes. The flexibility of this process will help you save time and money, but also help you improve your product design. Using 3D printing is also helping to avoid material waste. If injection molding was first seen as a manufacturing technique producing low scrapes, compared to processes like CNC machining, it appears that the winner in this category is the 3D printing technology! While 3D printing, you only use the amount of material you need for your whole project.


Injection molding is offering great advantage to produce your large volumes, with a great precision and perfect repeatability. While using plastic injection molding, you will have the choice among a wide range of materials. There are actually thousands of variations within each material, which will lead to different properties each time. Material weight, cost, flexibility, just for plastic properties and possibilities seem to be endless.


Both processes have their benefits and drawbacks and so they should be considered as complementary rather than competing technologies. 3D printing is better for small batch, complex parts that may require frequent design changes or customization. Injection molding, on the other hand, is better for large volume production of less complex parts that have successfully completed the design stage.

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