Choosing Between 3D Printing and Injection Molding for Rapid Manufacturing

Thread Starter

Sleve Hope

Joined Apr 21, 2020
3D printing has given engineers the power to create plastic designs at their desks and bring them to life in a matter of hours. Injection molding, on the other hand, is the go-to for quality and value. It is commonly used to quickly and reliably produce high-volume runs of complex plastic designs.
For large quantities: At scale, injection molding is the much more cost- and time-effective choice for production. As more parts are produced, the cost of the mold is spread more evenly. Plus, in extremely high production runs, the speed at which a part can be produced becomes faster than with 3D printing.

  • Quick turnaround times (1-2 weeks)
  • Low volume production runs (100 parts or fewer)
  • Designs with frequent changes
  • Relatively small plastic parts or components
  • Longer turnaround times (5-7 weeks for simple parts)
  • High volume production runs (1,000+ parts per run)
  • Final part design (no more prototyping)
  • Parts of any size or complexity

I hope you will find this helpful.


Joined May 19, 2020
Agree with the above post. Worked a side job acting as a liaison between a customer and overseas injection molding. We were doing some small, medium complexity plastic parts (single parting line, no fancy mold stuff). Most places were quoting $12-25k for the injection mold, and $0.10 per part on 10000pc production runs. This was about the smallest order that would be justified to injection mold.

Parts were too small and complicated for anything but the highest end 3D printers. The cost of those is significantly higher than what normal extrusion printers cost.

Urathane casting is a good intermediate between 3D printing and injection molding. You can get real part strength and detail without committing to the cost of injection molded parts.