Is 3D printing cheaper than injection molding?

  • Mar 29,2022

3D printing and plastic injection molding are both helpful processes in their own right. 3D printing has given engineers the power to create plastic designs at their desks and bring them to life in a matter of hours. Injection molding, on the other hand, is the go-to for quality and value. It is commonly used to quickly and reliably produce high-volume runs of complex plastic designs. Both of them serve a purpose in production. More often than not, the two are not competing against each other, but rather, each works best for different applications, and both can work together in manufacturing. This generally works best when 3D printing is used for prototyping, and injection molding is used for large-scale production runs. To understand which is purely better for producing a product, depends on the product itself.


For 3D printing, the upfront cost is generally lower than injection molding. It takes essentially the same skill to map the part itself in a CAD software, but 3D printing can print directly from the file, and injection molding requires the creation of mold or tooling, and then the injection process to create the piece. It takes significantly more skilled labor to run the equipment to create and injected molded part, but less material cost to create the individual parts versus the material used by a 3D printer. This means that, though the injection mold itself costs more to create, with each piece created by the injection molding process, the cost becomes cheaper for each additional unit compared to the flat production cost of the 3D printed parts.

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