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Are 3D printing and CNC processing competing or coexisting

Nov 13,20

Are 3D printing and CNC processing competing or coexisting?

Many countries in the world have taken 3D printing as a new growth point for future industrial development. As early as 2012, the United States identified "additive manufacturing technology" as the first manufacturing innovation center (later renamed as "made in the United States"), the European Union, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Russia and other countries have also adopted various measures to promote the development of 3D printing industry.

Since the rise of 3D printing, China has promulgated a number of policies to support the development of 3D printing industry. With the support of the policy, 3D printing enterprises have sprung up one after another and grown rapidly. The development of 3D printing industry in Beijing, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Shaanxi and other places has also made remarkable progress. According to statistics, there are more than 400 enterprises engaged in 3D printing business in Guangdong Province alone, with multiple 3D printing industrial parks.

With the rapid development of 3D printing, whether the traditional manufacturing methods such as CNC machine tools will be replaced has become a hot topic among people from all walks of life. In recent years, China's CNC machine tool technology is improving day by day, and 3D printing has found its own landing scene. Generally speaking, CNC machine tools need to be programmed in advance, through continuous cutting to achieve the formation of objects. The working principle of 3D printer is similar to that of CNC machine tools. It also works according to computer instructions. The difference is that it makes products by stacking raw materials layer by layer. So 3D printing is also called additive manufacturing.

The significant difference between 3D printing and traditional manufacturing lies in the process of product forming. In the traditional manufacturing industry, the whole manufacturing process generally needs to go through the process of mold opening, cutting, casting or forging, and component assembly. 3D printing eliminates the complex process, no mold and one-time molding. Therefore, 3D printing can overcome some design that can not be achieved in traditional manufacturing and produce more complex structures.

On the contrary, CNC machine tool is a type of computer digital control (CNC), which can process complex, precise and various parts. Generally speaking, CNC machine tools use the program specified by the computer to eliminate redundant materials through cutting and milling steps to achieve the final product, which is a typical material reduction manufacturing.

On the one hand, traditional manufacturing industry is characterized by "global procurement, division of labor and cooperation". Different parts of products are often produced in different places, and then transported to the same place for assembly. And 3D printing is "overall manufacturing, one-time molding", which saves the logistics link, cost and time.

On the other hand, the traditional manufacturing industry takes the production line as the core and the factory as the main carrier, and the production equipment is highly concentrated. 3D printing embodies the integration of new generation information technology and manufacturing industry represented by cloud computing, big data, Internet of things and mobile Internet.

Machine tool, as a product of the development of traditional manufacturing industry, is quite different from the new generation of 3D printing manufacturing. Machine tool is the mother machine of the manufacturing industry. If 3D printing technology can be integrated into the field of machine tools, it will undoubtedly be more powerful. The combination of the two can not only improve the production efficiency, but also complete many manufacturing problems.

The special machine tool in the machine tool can be customized according to customer requirements, but the function is not strong and rich enough, and it may not be designed and manufactured at will. However, with the introduction of 3D printing, the popularity and application of machine tools may be greatly improved.

It is understood that 3D printing technology has been applied in China's industrial parts manufacturing, but it has not yet entered large-scale industrial application. Its technology and equipment, as well as its applications in medical, aerospace and other fields, need to be further developed. In view of the current situation, 3D printing technology does not have the conditions to replace the traditional manufacturing industry. In mass production and other aspects, the high-efficiency and low-cost manufacturing method with machine tool manufacturing as the embodiment is better.

Of course, with the emphasis on metal additive manufacturing, more and more equipment manufacturers in the field of traditional machine tool manufacturing have entered the field of additive manufacturing. Some of them have launched hybrid additive manufacturing equipment based on CNC machining center, and some have directly entered the new additive manufacturing field. For example, Mazak, Japan. Mazak launched the integrex i-400am (additive manufacturing) composite processing equipment. Integrex i-400am is a complete set of equipment, which is more suitable for small batch production of processing materials, such as aerospace parts of heat-resistant alloy processing, parts of high hardness materials processing.

The long-term coexistence of reduced material manufacturing and growth manufacturing is a trend that can be met. In the future, however, that may change. In any case, it is expected that the mode of fine, automatic and efficient manufacturing of products will be widely used.