A 3D printed product is formed from layers of materials laid down from a digital model. Shipping and other logistics activities can be eliminated, resulting in energy savings of up to 60 percent. Moreover, users can produce items with fewer resources. Cost savings of up to 70% can be attributed to 3D printing due to prototyping. This is in contrast to traditional manufacturing, which is highly expensive.

Technology comparison

The traditional manufacturing process involves injection, molding, machining, forming, and joining, which increases the cost of the product. The traditional method also involves spending a lot of money on manufacturing and shipping, which further raises the final cost. The 3D printing process uses processes such as laser sintering, binder jetting, stereolithography, poly-jetting and fused deposition modeling/fused filament production, which are most digitally dependent and thus result in lower cost objects. Although the initial setup costs are higher, 3d printing has become more affordable than cheap labor in third world countries. Additionally, 3d printing costs continue to decrease, leading to the possibility of having 3d printers in every home soon. Customized products are priced the same as mass produced products.

How can additive manufacturing reduce costs?

Traditional manufacturing methods, such as injection molding, require mass production in order to even out overhead costs of tooling, assembly, and production. In addition, additive manufacturing has the same cost no matter what size the order is, so this method is cheaper when there is a small order.

Having a system that’s more adaptable and customizable

Considering the costs of every additional unit are the same, any number of changes can be made to the product. In prototyping, you would create a prototype using 3D printing and update it until it meets your satisfaction. This is an important step before going into mass production. You can also use it during the rest of the manufacturing process, to create unique pieces that can be more responsive to your needs, progress in conception, and consumer feedback.

There are no additional costs associated with complexity

When creating complex mechanical constructions, precision and skill are needed, especially when assembling complicated parts, leading to a corresponding price rise as complexity increases. 3D printing, on the other hand, creates an entire object in one step, instead of assembling components one by one. As a result, complexity is not an added expense.


What is traditional manufacturing?

In traditional manufacturing, material is removed from a billet, or block, to obtain the net shape using subtractive technologies.

Traditional manufacturing processes include machining, molding, forming, and joining. There are four main types of traditional manufacturing technologies for polymers and composites:

Machining is the most common method of production for metals, and it is also the most common method of production for low and mid-volume plastics. Although it can provide the desired shape with excellent accuracy and precision, it tends to waste material by generating removed chips. The most common machining processes include:

    • turning
    • drilling
    • milling
    • laser cutting

Since the advent of 5-axis CNC machining, the efficiency of this subtractive technology has greatly increased. Despite this, the investment costs for a 5-axis CNC machine are very high, so most companies are equipped with 3-axis CNC machines or manual drills and mills.

  • Molding is a very common method of producing thermoplastic polymer parts. The technique is extremely useful for mass production of components, but it requires the use of a specially designed mold. Plastics are primarily mass produced by injection, compression, and rotational molding. In general, about 80% of the durable plastic products we use every day are made by plastic injection molding.
  • Forming involves pressing thermoplastic sheets on custom dies. Since this technology can only be used to manufacture thin-walled and hollow-bodied parts, it is ideal for prototypes and packaging parts. One of the most common forming technologies for polymers is thermoforming. In order to create the final part, a heated thermoplastic sheet is stretched over the surface of a die as vacuum pressure pulls the sheet downward.

By joining, it is possible to construct complex shapes from simpler components. Although they are relatively inexpensive, their joining procedure often requires the manual labor of an operator, making them ideal for small- to mid-quantity production. There are advantages and disadvantages to every manufacturing process. In order to produce their parts, companies commonly use traditional manufacturing methods. Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has added to the list of possible production technologies in the past few decades, bringing new advantages to the table.


3D printing is a cost-effective alternative to traditional manufacturing

Rapid Prototyping

From a design to an actual prototype, products can be developed more rapidly.

Manufacturing Speed

The manufacturing speed for a large number of final products is the same as for the previous advantage.


With traditional manufacturing technologies, it is faster and cheaper to manufacture additional products that you know you will eventually require. With 3d printing, only the products that are sold need to be manufactured, so excess inventory does not need to be stocked.

3d Printers can produce just about anything

Whether you’re craving chocolate or in need of an organ transplant, you’re in luck. Originally, 3d printing companies sold plastic ink cartridges. They now have ink made from sugar, chocolate, sand, ceramics, metals, and even living cells to produce an infinite number of creations.

3d printers are the future of manufacturing businesses

The 3d printers make it easy to cut some jobs. Not only are 3d printers more productive, but they are also more environmentally friendly. When you build something, you usually have leftover scraps.  3D printers build only what is needed based on their knowledge of molds and designs. As a result, they are more economical and environmentally friendly. A 3d printer can also be used as a productive manufacturing tool. By purchasing a commercial 3d printer, larger products can be designed and higher production volumes can be achieved.


What makes 3D printing better than traditional manufacturing?

Every new idea on the market is based on innovation. Business needs to understand the requirements of a new design and the boundaries that should be set when going forward with the evaluation process when it comes to product development. Having developed the concept, the next step is to assess the manufacturing options available, to find the best supplier for the new product. But how do you choose the best manufacturing technology? What are the processing methods for high performance polymers and composites?

Before we look at some traditional manufacturing technologies, let’s consider the differences between traditional manufacturing and 3D printing. The following table shows the main differences between the two families of technologies.

How is 3D printing superior to traditional manufacturing?

When one or more of the following conditions are met, 3D Printing is an ideal manufacturing method for rapid production of parts:

  • Production of small batches;
  • Short lead time;
  • Remote locations;
  • With traditional manufacturing, costs increase with complexity;
  • Reduction of stock parts, digital warehouse.


Innovative companies use 3D printing to reduce the time to market by accelerating prototyping, thus lowering the costs associated with product development.