Hybrid Manufacturing Turns Design Inside Out

Traditional manufacturing starts with a solid block of metal. Manufacturers think about how to mill, turn, grind, and polish the part, move the part to the next manufacturing step, create subassemblies, and bring parts together. Each activity occurs in distinct processing areas. Hybrid manufacturing disrupts that workflow.

Hybrid systems combine traditional subtractive processes with additional processes, including laser metal deposition additive manufacturing (AM) and friction stir welding (FSW).

Instead of designing products from outside-in, we can design from the inside-out, such as by sealing seam and then milling features. That's really a paradigm shift in the way engineers think, says Dale Fleck, general manager, Mazak MegaStir (IMTS booth: 338300).

Instead of using a stand-alone FSW system, which may have lower utilization rates, Mazak offers an alternative with its VTC-300c hybrid system, which offers everything users expect from a three-axis CNC, except that its powerful 40-taper spindle also accepts FSW tools. Instead of multiple workstations, some parts can be “done in one.” This removes the time and labor associated with moving parts between machining and welding stations. It also removes potential sources of error, such as losing zero due to refixturing.

Super Multitasking

Adoption of hybrid systems will accelerate when large manufacturers design parts that require internal structures, says Jim Kosmala, vice president of engineering and technology, Okuma (IMTS booth: 338500). That will inevitably occur because mechanical engineers understand the strength, weight, and performance benefits of additive designs.

The company's MU-8000V LASER EX super multitasking CNC machine combines five-axis subtractive capabilities with laser metal deposition (LMD) technology for AM, hardening, and coating of workpiece blanks. By implementing LMD instead of laser metal fusion (LMF), this machine offers mid-process part inspection and material exchange, coolant use in work envelope, higher deposition rates, and three-dimensional fabricating. A 4kW Trumpf laser can supply power to up to four LASER EX machines.

More Revenue Streams

Adding hybrid capabilities in-house opens up new revenue streams for mainstream manufacturers and job shops alike by giving them the power to control all steps of the production process.” says Lisa Block, Director, Global Sales and Marketing for Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies (HMT, IMTS booth: 432432). Applications include repair, remanufacture, and feature enhancement. Our patented AMBIT deposition heads extend part life cycle by adding layers of high-performance materials such as Inconel and stainless steel.

HMT has proven its hybrid technology with industry leaders such as Mazak, ROMI, Mitsui Seiki, Sugino, and Tongtai. Originally the company debuted AMBIT FLEX platform for LMD designed to fit into a standard (CAT 40, HSK, etc.) tool holder for easy integration. In the subsequent years, HMT has released a vast array of product offerings including but not limited to melt pool monitoring, various modes of inspection and polymer extrusion – all of which can be custom designed to fit any CNC, robot, or gantry – further expanding the “done-on-one machine” concept.

To discover how hybrid technology can bring more innovation to your manufacturing environment, register for IMTS 2022 and book your hotel now. IMTS 2022 runs from Sept. 12-17 at Chicago's McCormick Place.

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