3D Printing vs Injection Molding: Key Differences Discussed

No longer are you required to keep your visual ideas a secret! With modern technological advances like 3D printing, injection molding, you can bring your vision to life!

Both of these techniques are very popular among professionals and creative individuals to create plastic sculptures. But which one is best? best choice for your projects What are your preferences? Let’s compare 3D printing vs injection molding to see which one turns out to be the better option!

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing allows you to bring two-dimensional objects to life!

It transforms digital images or files into a three-dimensional solid figure. Plastic is the most popular choice for most projects. However, it can also be used to create ceramics, metals, and other materials according to your specific requirements.

3D printing is an additive process where layers are built over each other to create the final piece. Each layer follows the digital instructions in a program file. You can either program it yourself or download one from 3D repositories online.

There are many 3D modeling software options available on the market today. This is a new area for you. open-source materials available online first. You don’t even need to install some of them and just work on the projects through an internet browser!

Once you have learned the basic principles and methods, you can upgrade to enhance your experience. This can be costly as the professional 3D modeling software costs thousands each year.

3D Printing: The Advantages

Simple and fast

3D printing is easy to use and produces great results in a short time. 3D printing is quicker than other similar processes, such as subtractive manufacturing. Because the steps of prototyping and testing are faster here,

You will also have more time to fine tune your testing requirements, design parameters, and other specifications to achieve the best possible version of your initial concept. 3D printing allows you to complete a project in hours, whereas other alternatives can take days or weeks.


You don’t need to have any special access or tons of cash lying around to get your hands on a 3D printer. You can find many models of this device in both online and offline shops. Once you have the hardware installed, you can use any compatible program to start your 3D voyage.

Prototype Consistency

You can create the exact same structure up to 100 times using 3D printers, as almost everything depends on carefully designed programs and calculated algorithms. You don’t have to worry about working with inconsistent bits for your final structure here.

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Testing with Tangibles

With 3D printing, you don’t have to rely on only virtual or digital models to test out a theory! Each stage can be built from tangible components and you can see how they all fit together at the end. You will have many chances to test it before you prepare the final prototype.


3D printing gives you more freedom to be creative and customize your product. This process allows you to make numerous modifications to the same digital mould. It’s easy to make minor adjustments and change one or more of the integral parts to create a completely new shape. There are many possibilities with 3D!

3D Printing: The downsides

Materials Restriction

3D printing has a few limitations. Because of its availability in many markets and its ability to mold into any shape while melting, plastic is the most popular choice for this job.

Other popular options include gold, metal and glass, but these are not available for DIY or home-based project. These materials are only available to large corporations that have industrial capabilities.

Size limits

The 3D printers at present don’t have enough room to build large structures.

Although you may have heard of a boat built entirely using a 3D printing machine last year, such machines are not readily available to the average person. Only the most successful businesses can afford the largest 3D printers on the planet.

We must make the most of the devices that are up to 2 feet wide for the rest of us. All our ideas won’t be able see the light of day because of this limitation. We will need to pick the ones that are feasible enough to be printed by our own 3D printer.

Excessive Consumption

The downside to 3D printing is an increase in energy costs. The Loughborough University published in their 2011 research These printers consume 50-100x more electricity than other printers when heat or lasers are involved. A 2009 study found similar results in the use of electrical energy for metal 3D printing.

Toxic Emissions

The accumulation of toxic elements can occur when 3D printers are used indoors too often. A research from 2013 The Illinois Institute of Technology concluded these elements could be carcinogenic ultrafine particle and dangerous volatile compounds.

You should use the printers in an open area. If you must use it in a space, make sure to keep the windows and balconies open.

High cost

The equipment required to 3D print is quite expensive. This is not a good idea unless you have a budget that can be adjusted. Even the cheapest model will cost you a few hundred dollars. The more expensive models will cost several thousand.

What is injection molding?

To make individual parts, you inject molten material into molds. These parts can then be used for the main structure. Injection options are numerous. molding materials. Metal, thermoplastic, glass, and elastomer are the most popular choices.

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Injection molding machines are used by professionals in their manufacturing processes. They allow you to make as many copies of the same part as you need without changing any of the minor details. They make mass production more efficient.

Advantages of Injection Molding

Intricate Details

Injection molding can be used to produce complex parts. These machines deliver the minute details successfully each time regardless of the part’s size. This ensures that industrial processes are easier because they provide assurance of uniformity and flawless implementation.

Strength and tolerance

Injection molding products usually have tight tolerances. This tolerance can vary depending on certain design elements, such as thick walls. However, injection molding is a highly tolerant process.

The use of fillers in the process reduces the plastic density and makes the product stronger. Injection molding is the industry standard in engineering.

Creative Freedom

Plastic is the most popular material for injection molding. However, there are many other options. These plastics can be combined to create the perfect product that meets your needs.

Injection molding allows you to create multi-colored parts with pre-colored resins, liquid colours, and other similar tools.

High efficiency

Injection molding is one the most efficient methods to produce parts for industrial standard projects. It can produce large quantities of products in a very short time period, ranging from 15 to 120 seconds. Each mold takes different amounts of time depending on its material, size, and complexity.

Low Labor Cost

Because these machines continue to produce the same object a million more times, manufacturers can reduce labor costs. The worker only needs to complete the initial mold correctly and then begin the series. This allows companies to make huge profits while keeping their unit costs low.

Advantages and Disadvantages of injection molding

Rubber waste

In the process of injection molding, a significant amount of the materials like rubber doesn’t get used in the end. Through many feed gates and runners, it enters the mold cavities through the injection chamber. It ends up as waste and most of it remains in the main product.

High Setup Fee

Although the labor cost of setting up the machine is relatively low, it can still be costly. You should consider the additional costs involved in upgrading the readymade injection molding machines. The setup process can be expensive and time-consuming, especially if you add extra features.

Comparing Injection Molding vs 3D Printing

They may appear to be producing identical objects, but they differ in certain aspects such as complexity, tolerance and speed. Let’s see how they fare against each other in all these regards!

Ideal Applications

3D printing is more suitable for complex projects or objects that require organic shapes or high levels of complexity, as it requires precise programming. Injection molding is the best when it comes to tolerance and engineering standards.

3D printing is a popular tool for rapid prototyping, prosthetics, eyewear, and dental products. You can also print enameled pottery and other ambitious projects. sculpturesThis process has also been successful in the production of artificial food, clothing, and shoes.

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Injection molding can be used to make automobile parts, parts for mechanical machines, containers, bottles and toys, as well wire spools, pocket brushes, packaging and packaging. This process can also be used to make small furniture pieces and musical instruments.


Two completely different paths are used to create plastic structures using these two popular methods. 3D printing is about entering precise digital instructions into the machine. While injection molding involves molten material being placed into a pre-made mold.


The complexity and size of your project will determine how fast you can achieve the results. 3D printing can take hours to print the most complex structures. Injection molding can deliver results in as little as a few seconds.

The turnaround time for both methods can be up to weeks. It is common to be 8-10 weeks for injection molding For 3D printing, it takes 1-3 weeks. This is because injection molding involves more steps, such as designing the mold tool, which can take a lot of time.

Mass Production

Injection molding is a better choice for mass production because it can produce the same structure in millions. You can then simply turn on the machine once you have completed the mold and it will continue to work until you reach your goal.

Image credit: https://blog.voodoomfg.com/2017/02/02/high-volume-3d-printing-vs-injection-molding/


3D printing is much easier than injection molding, and it is easier to correct a mistake. You would need to do the latter. way to fixing The initial mold is then removed and the mechanical process can be restarted. To fix something in 3D printing, you will only need to change one or more lines in the software program.

Bottom Line – Which One is For You?

In the end, there is no clear winner in the 3D printing vs. injection molding battle. Both methods have their pros and cons, as you can see.

3D printing offers more security and flexibility as you can modify a few lines of your program to make intricate designs. It also has a faster turnaround time than injection molding. However, it can limit your creativity due to its size restrictions.

Injection molding is able to create the same structure of high strength with tight tolerances a million more times without compromising its efficiency. It is also more expensive than 3D printing, and requires more steps to get the final product.

You should choose the one that is most suitable for your project.

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