3D printing is a technological miracle but is not without its limitations, but then again so do many other manufacturing methods. Additive manufacturing (SLA, SLS, 3D Printing etc.) is currently a hot topic, subject to much discussion and conjecture, but let’s take a moment to consider innovations and enhancements relating to subtractive manufacturing methods.
Imagine one of the tool slots in a CNC machine (or any other subtractive machine) contains a 3D Printing head. So enters the hybrid. This is exactly what many companies and manufactures are looking to do. The intention is not necessarily to reduce component processing times, but instead to provide parts with more complex geometry and greater accuracy than previously possible. Accuracy is further enhanced by eliminating the need for re-mounting parts in multiple machines (or the same machine) to subject them to different processes. Micron-level accuracy gets increasingly difficult when using multiple set ups.
One of the design problems with developing a hybrid machine is getting coolant fluid through the spindle for the subtractive process, and also air for the laser through the same spindle. The new HSK (Hohl Shaft Kegel or hollow-shank taper) tool holder, can both dispense coolant and blast air at 1000psi. This interface will allow a process like Laser Deposition Technology (LDT) to coexist with a conventional subtractive method. One machine is already being developed by Sauer Lasertec and DMG Mori (see image above and video below). The hybrid uses a five-axis CNC mill with a LDT head and the HSK tool holder.
The Lasertech 65 Hybrid machine will perform additive and subtractive machining. This machine will combine laser metal deposition and conventional subtractive processes to produce previously impossible geometry and accuracy