Hybrid Manufacturing Combines 3D Printing, Machining
The concept of hybrid manufacturing generated significant buzz last month in Pittsburgh at RAPID, the annual additive manufacturing/3D technology conference.
But what exactly is it?
As Engineering.com reported in an article on the topic, hybrid manufacturing is essentially the combination of laser cladding (additive/3D printing) and CNC machining/milling (subtractive) in a single machine environment.
“On the face of it, the dueling production techniques of additive and subtractive seem like they’d be difficult to mesh together, and, in some respects, they are,” the Engineering.com article explained. “But if both additive and subtractive have been choreographed correctly, they offer powerful new capabilities to companies willing to understand these new manufacturing methods.”
Enter the “choreographer,” or at least one of the first companies to bring hybrid manufacturing to market: U.K.-based Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies, which is pioneering this technology with its Ambit multi-task tool system. Ambit is a patented series of deposition heads and docking systems that allows virtually any new or existing CNC machine (or robotic platform) to use non-traditional processing heads in the spindle and conveniently change between them. Changeover, from adding metal to cutting and inspecting, is automated and takes seconds. Multi-tasking indeed!
The company, which debuted its newest, seven-head system at RAPID, says the technology is suitable for production of new parts and components, and for repairing or remanufacturing applications, and can be deployed by the same industries that currently use additive/3D printing methods, such as the aerospace, automotive, medical, and defense industries.