Whether it’s in the automotive, electrical, or hobby sectors, producing small, detailed parts or collectible figurines that are long-lasting and well-made are and will continue to be important. 3D printing has become all the rage, and everyone with an idea can turn it into a tangible reality, and manufacturers can arguably make more precise parts. However, it is critical to be aware that there are certain applications where precision resin casting or molding may prove more appropriate than this latest fad.
What is Resin Molding?
Molding itself as a production technique is one of the oldest methods and has stood the test of time; however, there’s nothing old school about it. It’s measured, precise, and does the job required. Resin molding is where liquid casting resin mixed with a hardening agent is poured into a mold to produce a specific part. Usually, the resin has been preheated and mixed with paint. As the liquid cools, it creates a hardened object in the shape of the mold. The process has been perfected, and resins improved as science improves, to the point whereby you can produce tough, long-lasting, and detailed castings. For an in-depth explanation of professional casting resins visit Rowetrading, who have a long history in the field.
These castings can be used to create parts for further manufacturing, such as clips and electrical components or as a finished product in toys and electrics, switches, and circuit board connectors.
With advances in tech, one can produce exact components, all depending on the type of resins and molds used.
What is 3D printing?
3D printing has been used as an alternative or viable addition to resin molding processes. It is heralded as a way to mass-produce those parts that would have previously been molded. It does what it says on the can, a printer is purchased, the 3D design is uploaded, and the printer lays down repeated layers of material until the desired shape is achieved. Generally, it is a process that has predominantly been used for rapid prototyping and small-batch manufacturing. With the improvements in tech and the reduction in costs, it is possible to envisage 3D printing in large-scale production. It is, however, not a cost-effective manufacturing method for all products or for mass production and has been so far only extensively used in the realms of large-scale automotive, aerospace, and bespoke restoration projects.
Cost Analysis of Both
From a business point of view, whether you are selling model parts for hobbyists or precision hardened automotive parts and components, you would do best to use the right tool for the specific job at hand.
Resin molding has advantages that outweigh 3D printing. For example, you are able to achieve more bespoke and precise products with the molding process. Furthermore, the initial outlay will be less with resin molding. You will need to replace the molds over time due to the corrosive nature of the hardeners, but if you purchase quality molds from the outset, then the replacement costs can be deferred. Resin molding is thus far more accessible and cost-effective for manufacturers looking to produce a large number of precise parts without a huge financial outlay.
When Professional Resin Molding is Better than 3D Printing
Don’t simply rush out to buy a 3D printer because your competitors use one or have recently purchased one that fills an entire room. Only buy one if you really need it, and that will be based on the type of production you intend to do. If you’re making small prototypes or one-off bespoke parts, then perhaps the printer will suffice. However, for a longer-lasting, stronger application produced on a large scale, it will be best to use the tried and tested resin casting or molding. Only you and your production team can decide when to use each of these processes; in essence, they are different and best used in conjunction. Perhaps the printer (if you can afford one) for prototypes and the molding to produce the actual product.