Are you deciding between buying a 3D printer and a CNC? While both machines are great to prototype stuff, each one has its PROS and CONS. Today we will analyze each one and see which is the correct choice for you.

We will be using the traditional FDM 3D Printer for this article. FDM means “Fused Deposition Modelling” it’s those printers that you feed a roll of filament and it extrudes through the printer nozzle.

3D Printing (FDM)

  • PROS
  • Cheap filament and printer
  • Can customize with many different mods
  • Parts are widely available on eBay and Amazon
  • Silent and doesn’t make a lot of mess
  • CONS
  • Slow
  • Finish surface has visible lines and sometimes it’s not very accurate
  • Objects shrink and you can end up with parts smaller than you expected
  • Can take a while to master a 3D printer
  • Limited material choices

CNC (3 axis)

  • PROS
  • FAST
  • Can make very accurate parts
  • Can mill on many different types of materials including metal, brass, aluminum and much more
  • CONS
  • Expensive
  • The materials to mill on can also be quite expensive
  • Lots of noise and dust everywhere
  • Limited choice of design. You cannot mill anything like a 3D printer does unless you’re using an Industrial 5 Axis CNC

So, that’s it. You can see that each machine has its use in different areas. I would suggest using CNC when you need very precise parts, or you need to mill for injection molding.

3D Printer is much easier to prototype when your project doesn’t require too much precision. You have wide freedom of choice and can print almost anything easily.

There’s another 3D Printer that uses resin and is much more precise, but we will leave that topic for another article.
If you have any question, feel free to comment below.