Copy of The MTCouncil Insight :: March


by John Gallant, senior executive at Traction Technology Partners

Hybrid manufacturing is in the spotlight this month as we explore how the blending of 3D printing and traditional subtractive manufacturing creates new opportunities for innovation in the industrial world. I wanted to share some information resources that may help you in advance of our Manufacturing Tech Council webinar on hybrid, and may steer you to some potential applications of the technology.

First, a more complete definition: SearchERP provides a good, high-level overview of the topic, explaining that “hybrid manufacturing is a term that describes combining additive manufacturing and subtractive manufacturing in a single machine system. Additive manufacturing . . . is used to build up a component, part or structure within another part; traditional subtractive manufacturing, or computer numerical control (CNC) milling, is used to fabricate, spot mill, polish and so on. For example, additive manufacturing in the form of laser cladding could be used to build up a metal form that, when cooled, is machined using traditional methods. A reverse example would be subtractive machining used to create a base structure, with additive manufacturing used to create thin structures on top of the base.”

PTC does a nice job here of expanding on that basic explanation and discussing how hybrid fills a gap between additive and subtractive. But – problem - the company warns that current CAD systems aren’t really designed with hybrid manufacturing in mind: “Many legacy CAD platforms today were initially created with only CNC machining in mind and are now being updated and retrofitted for general compatibility with 3D printing paradigms.  However, hybrid – efficiently using and exploiting the potential that exists between traditional CNC and new 3D printing manufacturing methods – means requiring 3D CAD power that does more than simply translate a design plan into a manufacturing workflow.  Rather, the new generation of CAD will need to be far better at capturing design intent in the first place.”

In this piece, also explores the potential of hybrid manufacturing systems and outlines some of the traditional manufacturing systems makers, as well as emerging companies that offer hybrid capabilities  – either as integrated additive/subtractive systems or add-ons to existing machine tools. Note that two of the emerging companies cited – Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies and Optomec will be featured in our MTC webinar and a third, 3D Hybrid Solutions was a Startup Spotlight focus for members.

The author, Ian Wright, explains: “… the available options for hybrid manufacturing can also be divided in terms of their underlying additive technologies. These include directed energy deposition (DED), wire-arc additive manufacturing (WAAM), cold spray (CS) and Fabrisonic’s ultrasonic additive manufacturing (UAM). There are important differences between these technologies, and the manufacturers of hybrid machine tools have each placed their bets, so to speak, so it’s worth looking at these technologies in more detail.” Good advice.