Is 3D Printing the Best Choice for that Prototype?

In some cases the answer is yes, but in others, machining may be the better option.


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A plastic part like this could be milled or 3D printed. How do you decide between processes? Image courtesy of Proto Labs. 

Additive manufacturing is a good choice for functional prototypes. It’s often faster and cheaper than molding or machining the part, and flexible enough to quickly produce design iterations. But is it always the best choice?

Not necessarily. Depending on the material, geometry, tolerances and other requirements of a given prototype, machining is sometimes the better option. See how they match up and learn how to decide between 3D printing and machining in this short article based on information from Proto Labs.