Engineering Product Design

Hybrid Manufacturing

What is Hybrid Manufacturing?

It is a manufacturing  process where additive manufacturing and conventional subtractive manufacturing technologies are combined and used together within a single setup to create a part.

Figure 1 Combination of Direct energy deposition and CNC milling ( credit : DMG MORI)

Using different manufacturing systems to create a single part is not new for the design and manufacturing industry. For example, machine threads, O-ring grooves & mating flat surfaces are machined regularly on sand castings. These are however,  post processing  i.e., different set up on a milling machine after the casting has been done.

Contrastingly,  Hybrid manufacturing machines such as DMG Moris’ Lasertec 65, combines one of the 7 types of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies and CNC milling capabilities into one single machine bed. This allows both technologies to work on the part one after another or alternatingly to create geometry and desired features. For example, AM technology with its freedom creates a complex shape while the CNC milling head carries out the precision machining.

So why hybrid manufacturing?

Every manufacturing process will have its own advantages and disadvantages and only suited for certain applications and materials. Although Additive manufacturing or 3D printing has come a long way from its inception, it still has limits such as limited material options and most notably lack of manufacturing tolerance, poor surface finish, post machining requirement etc.

Video credit:DMG mori

CNC milling, turning etc., are  the conventional way of achieving that finer tolerance but lacks the flexibility when challenged with complicated geometries.

So, combining AM and the conventional subtractive method will bridge the gap by eliminating the  negatives of the two methods enabling the user to have the best of both worlds(illustrated by the infographic in figure 2).

Figure 2 Hybrid Manufacturing system benefits ( credit: Hybrid)

When combining AM and the CNC machining, not all 7 types of additive manufacturing technologies will be suitable. Currently, considering  how the DED technology works, it lends itself nicely to the hybrid systems.But, few companies have successfully managed to combine other types of AM technologies into their hybrid offering.

Types of Hybrid manufacturing technologies

Out of 7 AM technologies, currently, the fllowingfour types of AM techniques are used in various forms with CNC machining.

Hybrid manufacturing companies

Companies like DMG mori, Hybrid manufacturing technolgiies, Optomec, 3D Hybrid are few companies who have excelled in this space.

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