Automotive Light Components: CNC Machining versus 3D printing

3D printing in automotive industry

3D printing technology is being applied in a variety of automotive tasks, playing an essential role in everything from the whole chassis to internal components. Even tires might be printed in 3D. This advanced technology provides a lot of benefits, including lesser cost, fewer waste materials, and more lightweight parts. However, there are some components of a car that 3D printing is not precisely ideal for like the automotive lights. Since 3D printing is basically a layer-by-layer procedure, the final result often shows these layer lines, which are not exactly what you need when producing the whole clear part.

Of course, there are exceptions. Several post-processing methods and materials significantly eliminate any presence of layer lines, for either plastic components or glass. But overall, 3D technology cannot be the go-to method in terms of getting a perfectly clear surface. Luckily, now most manufacturers can turn to a new technique called CNC machining.

What is CNC machining?
Basically, CNC machining or Computer Numerical Control machining applies a computer to produce a lot of numerical conversations of any design created by CAD. In other words, this technology can carve out an object from a solid block, meaning that there will be no layer lines. As a result, you can easily make a clear component which can be used for interior lights, taillights or headlights in a vehicle.

These days, automotive lights are often CNC machined out of PMMA or polymethyl methacrylate. It is shatter-resistant and lightweight, making it easier for use in automotive applications. Plus, machining doesn’t affect the quality while bringing a perfectly clear surface.

Benefits of CNC machining
This advanced technology, including milling and CNC plastic machining services, can bring a lot of benefits in the automotive industry. For example, it can allow for multi-axis linkage, high accuracy for perfect product consistency, the obtaining of tortuous processing in prototype machining and a higher level of automation. All of these advantages lead to error-free productivity and low-labor intensity. Plus, numerical control can also ensure the efficiency and simplicity of the entire process.

These days, there are a variety of companies that have knowledge in both CNC machining and 3D printing technology, as well as providing many services, including wire EDM, EDM, turning, milling, and CNC plastic machining services. A standard company often comes with precision 5, 4, and 3-axis CNC machining hubs where it can take care of their clients’ needs, including in automotive applications.

Engine housings, bearing caps, axles: suspension components as well as carburetor housings are all produced with the application of CNC machining technology. In addition, PMMA/acrylic machining for interior lights, exterior lights, and headlights are other paradigms on how this technique is being applied when parts are being manufactured in the automotive industry.

Conclusion
While 3D printing technology is playing a more and more important part in the automotive sector, it is unlikely that it might have complete domination. CNC machining techniques definitely have a role in this heavy industry. Automotive light components are just a few examples to prove where CNC machining can have advantages. However, CNC machining and 3D printing keep complementing each other and working better together other than apart.

If you want to hire CNC Prototype Machining service, then the author of the article recommends HLH Prototypes.


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