Comparison of different prototyping processes

ProcessCNC Machining3D PrintingInjection MoldingDie CastingSheet Metal
Advantages•Tight tolerance
•High quality
•Complex geometry
•High resistance
•High repeatability
•Near-net final shapes
Mass production of thin, complexly shaped products•Make XL parts easily
•Wide range of forming processes
Disadvantages•Raw materials waste
•Slow for large-volume production
Limited surface qualityPart of toolings are relatively costly•Only support non-ferrous metals
•Not suit for small-volume production
Only suit for thin-walled metal prototypes
MaterialsMultiple materialsPlastic, metal, elastomersThermopolymers,
some thermosets
Alloys of aluminum, magnesium, zincMany metals
Applications•Full-functional automotive prototypes
• Prototype molds
• Plastic electronics housings
• Titanium aerospace components
• Prototypes of small consumer goods
• Silicone prototypes
•Parts of the sink faucet
•Connector housing
•Prototype brackets and chassis
•Enclosures and panels