Injection molding and 3D printing are two popular and capable methods for plastic component fabrication. While there are many similarities among them, each has a distinct set of advantages and disadvantages. Process selection comes down to a few key factors including material and finish requirements, as well as run size. Here are the benefits of each method:

Injection Molding Benefits

  • High-volume Production – 3D printed Parts are suitable for short run requirements, but when it comes to production, injection molding excels.  The rule is simple: piece price diminishes as the volumes go up, thanks to the economies of scale. Injection molding is ideal for mass-producing identical parts quickly and precisely.
  • Superior Surface Finish – whether you require a textured or smooth finish injection, molding produces a beautiful finish. The finish remains consistent across the run since it’s built into the mold. This enhances both visual appeal and functionality. Conversely, 3D finishes are inconsistent and somewhat unpredictable.
  • Material Selection – with 3D printing, you’re limited to the materials that the machine can process. The selection is narrow. With injection molding, you have thousands of different materials to choose from, offering a wide range of properties. These include high strength, thermal or corrosion resistance, and chemical tolerance.

3D Printing Benefits:

  • Rapid Prototyping – enables fast creation of prototypes for testing and design iteration, vital for early-stage development.
  • Low-volume Production – Suitable for smaller batches or customized individual parts without the need for costly molds.

Injection Molding vs 3D Printing – Which Wins?

Ultimately, the best choice typically depends on which lifecycle stage the part is in. For early stages, 3D printing offers flexibility. It’s great for product development, prototyping, and low-volume requirements. Ultimately, for high-volume production, tight tolerances, and cost-effectiveness, injection molding is the clear winner.

To find out how injection molding can save money by replacing 3D printed parts, contact us today.