The MTCouncil Insight :: February

 

by John Gallant, senior executive at Traction Technology Partners

While the February topic in our 2019 Manufacturing Tech Council webinar series is “Advanced Sensors,” I want to give you some early reading on our focus area for March – Hybrid Manufacturing.

We explored the latest advances in additive manufacturing (AM) in a webinar last year that looked at the promise and progress of 3-D printing. Hybrid takes AM to the next level by combining 3-D printing capabilities with traditional CNC machinery – in essence, you’re blending “additive” functionality with “subtractive” processes like milling to create components for which 3-D printing alone isn’t adequate.

As with most emerging technologies in our industry, hybrid manufacturing capabilities are being brought to market by major machine tool suppliers, as well as a crop of younger companies that are focused on delivering either all-in-one hybrid systems or AM add-ons for existing machine tools.

I’ve put together some reading below that I hope you’ll find useful in exploring this topic further. If you have any content you think will be valuable to your MTC colleagues, please let me know and I’ll share.

To begin, I think you’ll find that this piece from Engineering.com (bit.ly/Engineering_Hybrid) does a good job of laying out the basics of hybrid manufacturing. It also cites some of the larger and emerging companies playing in the field already. TCTMagazine.com provides some additional insight in this article (bit.ly/TCT_Hybrid) that also provides insights into how Autodesk is exploring the technology in its UK-based Advanced Manufacturing Facility. PTC explores how CAD will integrate with hybrid in this explainer (bit.ly/PTC_Hybrid).

My favorite article is this case study (bit.ly/AM_Marines) on how the U.S. Marine Corps is exploring the capabilities of hybrid manufacturing in the field. I was not aware of the so-called “Expeditionary Manufacturing” unit that creates or repairs parts near the front lines. Here’s an excerpt from the AdditiveManufacturing.com piece:

“For instance, a broken steering-column pinion gear might render a Humvee inoperative, but obtaining this replacement part far forward in the field fast enough to matter might be close to impossible. Existing portable machine shops offer milling or turning capabilities. Yet a part like a pinion gear is too challenging for systems such as these, for multiple reasons. The part is too complex to make on a lathe or mill in an exigent setting and carrying enough raw material to be prepared to make a part such as this would represent a problem in itself, since machining a shaft with gear teeth out of solid stock would mean cutting a lot of material away. The challenge and the opportunity of metal AM lies in the mindset change necessary to reevaluate challenges such as this. Marines—just like shops adopting AM—need to rethink long-standing assumptions about what kinds of parts can now be fabricated quickly.”

AdditiveManufacturing.com also offers a look into how GE (bit.ly/HybridGE) is using hybrid in turbine blade repair and gaining a bunch of efficiency through the process.

Finally, if you’re open to a deep dive into the topic, you can peruse this report from ScienceDirect.com (bit.ly/ScienceDirect_AM) that explores the practicality and value of creating hybrid manufacturing hubs that traditional manufacturers could tap into, versus investing in their own expensive upgrades.

Thanks for reading. I hope this information proves valuable to you and your colleagues.