Additive Manufacturing vs Subtractive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing is still considered a new technology which has been making impressive forays into the domains of aerospace and automotive industries. Additive manufacturing is nothing but 3D printing which is a sharp contrast to the subtractive manufacturing techniques. However, a vast majority of manufacturers still adopt subtractive manufacturing when it comes to machining. The question still looms large as which of the two manufacturing techniques is better: additive or subtractive.
What does the future say!
The emergence of on-demand manufacturing is leading more and more manufacturers to give some serious thought to additive manufacturing. However, when it comes to mass production, subtractive manufacturing is always preferred. 3D printing is always recommended for prototyping in plastic but not for metals. Most metal parts are voluminous and therefore take more time to print through 3D printing rather than subtractive manufacturing. Moreover, subtractive manufacturing is cheaper than additive manufacturing in 90 per cent of the cases.
To add to the complexities in the additive manufacturing process, it is constrained by the range of materials available for metal 3D printing.The size of the components also acts as a constraint for 3D printing. Subtractive manufacturing on the other hand is seen as creating a lot of waste in every process. But what sets subtractive manufacturing apart is that most processes are comparatively faster and cheaper for the same level of precision through subtractive manufacturing thus creating a competitive edge. Additive manufacturing, however, is creative and innovative removing barriers to innovative design, improving precision, reducing wastage and creating parts layer by layer. Both additive and subtractive manufacturing have their pros and cons. While subtractive manufacturing has a cost and time advantage and is suitable for mass manufacture, additive manufacturing enables innovative design and is preferred by design engineers who have a more creative outlook towards manufacturing irrespective of cost.
Both will have a place in the manufacturing sector in the near future because if both work concertedly things can be manufactured at scale, at low costs without compromising on design. It is here that the war ends and the question is answered.