Comparing Traditional Manufacturing with 3D Printing

In the ever-evolving landscape of manufacturing, it feels appropriate to talk about Traditional Manufacturing and 3D Printing, or Additive Manufacturing. 


Each approach boasts its own set of strengths and weaknesses, influencing industries and shaping how products come to life. Today, I’ll be exploring the nuances of both methods to help you navigate the terrain of production, whether you are a small or large business, or even an individual with an interest in the latest innovations.

Traditional Manufacturing: A Legacy of Production

Traditional Manufacturing has been the backbone of industries in the UK for decades. Its tried-and-tested methods have paved the way for mass production on a global scale, meaning that large amounts of products can be built quickly.


However, this approach isn’t without its challenges.

The upfront costs can be substantial, making it an expensive investment before the first products have even rolled off the assembly line. 


Material waste is another issue, as traditional manufacturing processes typically follow subtractive methods, which involves excess material being cut away, adding to the waste pile. This in turn, contributes to environmental concerns and cost inefficiencies. 

Design Limitations and Customisation Woes

The Achilles’ heel of Traditional Manufacturing ultimately lies in its design limitations and lack of customisation. 


Problem One: Producing intricate and complex designs can be a formidable task, often requiring extensive retooling and adjustments.


The expenses associated with retooling and changing production lines can put a huge dent in profits and flexibility.


Problem Two: When it comes to customisation, the costs can skyrocket, deterring businesses from offering tailored products to their clientele. 

Comparing Traditional Manufacturing with 3D Printing

3D Printing: A New Frontier in Manufacturing

3D Printing is a revolutionary force that’s shaking up the manufacturing landscape, and relies on additive manufacturing, which involves constructing objects layer by layer.


This method drastically reduces material waste, leaving behind a much smaller ecological footprint. Which in turn minimises setup costs, making it an attractive option for businesses of all sizes, especially startups looking to enter the market without breaking the bank.

Creative Potential and Customisation

One of the best aspects – in my opinion – about 3D Printing, is the intricate design possibilities that are made possible. 


The additive nature of the process allows creations to by complex and intricate in a way that traditional methods just aren’t capable of. 


As such, 3D Printing opens up customisation to those who don’t have the big budgets to play around with, particularly small businesses and even individuals. This makes manufacturing far more accessible to people who might not have had the opportunities in the past.


Instead, 3D printing allows each piece to be tailored without the expected sky-high costs.

Scalability and Flexibility in Production

3D printing offers scalability that bridges the gap between small-batch production and larger orders. It’s the ultimate companion for both startups and businesses wanting to test the water of things, before jumping head-first into production. 

In fact, here at Tidewater, we have worked with aviation businesses looking for “test” pieces to use to ensure parts fit where they are needed, before investing large amounts of money into the finished part.

Tidewater Opinion

There’s no denying that both types of manufacturing have their place in modern society. Traditional manufacturing is absolutely the best option for mass production, however 3D printing offers more adaptability, is eco-friendly (the filament used in 3D printing is made from a corn sugar-based material) and creatively liberating, making it a game-changer that is redefining how we create things.