Injection Molding VS 3D Printing: A Comprehensive Comparison

Views: 30     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-04-11      Origin: Site

Injection molding and 3D printing are the two most common methods to produce various plastic components. These two methods have their processes and are equally helpful.

The manufacture of plastic components may be done quickly for different sectors using these two methods with a competent accuracy and high quality.

What is Injection Molding?

Injection molding is when a high volume of plastic components and parts are produced. This method consists of using different molds in which molten plastic is poured, and the molds are then left for drying until the plastic has hardened.

injection molding

The Pros of Injection Molding

There are numerous aspects of injection molding that attract the creation of plastic-based components; a few of the pros that make plastic injection molding popular include the following.

  • Cost-effective method

Injection molding is a cost-effective method, it requires basic simple molding techniques to be used, and different plastic-based components are produced. The process is uniform and suitable for bulk production, which also cuts down the costs.

  • Suitable for bulk production

The injection molding process is much more suitable for bulk production. Once the mold is validated, you always get the same parts with consistent dimension and surface quality. The molten material is just required to be injected into a mold, and they are subjected to a cooling process.


  • Strengthens output

High mechanical property One of the most significant advantages of injection molding is that molten plastic fills up the mold in a very short time. So the part made out of it is far much much more robust, durable, and even.

  • Finished results

The output from the injection molding is equipped with proper surface finishing. Since the product is formed when it is molten, the mold is high polished or textured according to your demand, the product surface is well finished and smooth.

The Cons of Injection Molding

Everything that has pros would also have cons, so in injection molding, a few downsides need to be taken into account.

  • Requires hefty initial investment

The injection molds are expensive. You need to make a considerable investment initially to build the mold, and later on, after a long time, your cost is recovered very fast through these components made.

  • Long lead time for mold

The lead time of injection molds is long, and if you need components to be made immediately, you can't get it done through injection molding. The required time for building a mold is about four to seven weeks.

What is 3D printing?

3D printing is a process where the plastic components and parts are made by adding layers to one another. This process is suitable for manufacturing plastic-based components and parts with detailed and intricate designs and require consistent changes.


The 3D printing process is commonly used for minimal and complex parts and also the ones that may require additions, eliminations and changes during their making.

The Pros of 3D Printing

3D printing is gaining significant popularity when manufacturing plastic-based processes in different fields. This process is versatile and supports highly complex creations, making it popular in several industries.

There are several benefits attached to this process, and a few of these benefits may comprise the following:

  • Less initial investment

3D printing involves using a 3D printer available to be purchased at a very minimal cost. The materials required with this printer to make the plastic parts are also cheaper. Hence, this process of developing plastic components overall has a lower initial investment cost.

  • Susceptible to changes

3D printing involves developing the plastic parts layer by layer, and you can watch the live making of these parts. Hence, at any stage, if you wish to change the design or correct any design mistakes, you can easily do that.

If any changes are required in the middle of the process, you can do that using the 3D printing technique of producing plastic components.

  • Fast turnaround time

3D printing is suitable for production that needs to be done immediately. It has a rapid turnaround time and mostly takes one or two days, and your components are ready to use.

The Cons of 3D Printing

Some downsides of 3D printing also require attention; a few of the cons of the process are discussed here.

  • Produces small batches

3D printing is unsuitable for manufacturing the components in a high volume. You will only get small batches out of the 3D printing technique of plastic components, so if you require large quantities, this method might not be suitable for you.

  • Lack of surface finish

3D printing works by adding layers to the components; after the other, a new layer is added to the previous one. This causes a lack of smooth finish on the part of the surface of plastic components. It offers a rough and patchy output of components.

  • Lack of material strength

The material strength of plastic parts produced using 3D printing may lack to a certain extent. You can't find them as finished as they would be in case of injection molding. This is because the layers are added to one another rather than produced as a single layer.

This aspect of adding layers to the components might compose a little the strength of the final product.

  • Not suitable for huge components

3D printing is not suitable for manufacturing such plastic components of huge sizes. The area of the printer is very small, and hence only a limited size of the plastic product can be produced out of this process.

So, you can only get the smaller components out of this process.

The Key Differences Between Injection Molding and 3D Printing

The two methods of plastic component manufacturing, which consist of injection molding and 3D printing, both are very popularly used. They both have specific differences as well, and these are discussed below.


If you compare the cost of the two techniques that are 3D printing and injection molding, you will find the initial investment of injection molding higher. Whereas the price of a 3D printing setup is not that high and maybe very minimal, the materials are cheaper.

If you want small batches to be created with a small scale production and need a budgeted way out, 3D printing could be a suitable option.

However, if you want to produce bulk products simultaneously, it is suggested to choose injection molding. Although initial costs are very high, you will achieve savings on bulk production later.

Batch size

In the case of 3D printing, you can process only a limited number of plastic components at a time, and there is no bulk production available.

However, if you choose to get yourself injection molding, you can get a massive production volume at a time.

If you require similar products of the same look and design, it is suggested to opt for injection molding. However, if you need small batches only with different design modules for each, 3D printing could be a suitable option.

Material strength

In the case of injection molding, the plastic parts are manufactured with molten plastic filling up the mold, and left to cool. This process provide durable and consistant part quality.

Hence, the material strength of the plastic components developed using injection molding is better.

However, in the case of 3D printing, the components are not weak; instead, they are produced step by step in the form of layers and hence they might not be as strong as the components from injection molding are.

Surface finish

Due to the layering of plastic in 3D printing, there might be a little lacking in the part of surface finish. However, choosing injection molding will eliminate this aspect since it is produced in the form of a single layer.

Turnaround time

If you require a quick turnaround time, the best option is to get a hold of the 3D printing technique. This procedure takes around a couple of days to produce a finished product.

However, in the case of injection molding, the turnaround time required is about four to seven weeks depending on the complexity of the parts.


Here you will find a summarized content that will help you decide on a lot of aspects regarding the two techniques, and they will help you in making your decision when to opt for injection molding and when to opt for 3D printing.

When you should choose 3D Printing When you should choose Injection Molding
A small batch of units to print Bulk production
Parts to be printed immediately Priority to material strength
Prototyping and customization Good surface finish

The Final Verdict

When you look forward to getting the plastic components manufactured, both the methods have equal competence having their own individual properties. Injection molding may be suitable for bulk manufacture and when you need your final product to be of much strength.

Whereas, in the case of Injection Molding, it must be chosen when you need to produce Bulk production of your plastic components and that too in significantly less time.

Hence, to get the customized plastic components, you may choose Good Tech, our Injection Molding service, which will offer you the best results. Choice of customization is provided by Injection Molding only.

However, both the methods are equally popular and are used in different industries to make ample plastic-based parts that have a significant value for everyone.



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