Hybrid Manufacturing

The hybrid manufacturing hardware segment – as we know it today – came into existence in 2013 (announced – as is often the case, by an excellent article published on The Economist). The magazine correctly identified the launch of DMG Mori’s Lasertec 65 system as a key turning point, which enabled traditional machine tool manufacturers to begin embracing an additive approach. Before that, DED-type technologies were used primarily for cladding and part repair. With this new approach, many began to see DED as a key technology to make new parts as well.

As explained by Fabrisonic, developers of a unique, ultrasound-based hybrid manufacturing technology, many 3D printers in the metal AM space are migrating to a hybrid additive manufacturing approach to satisfy stringent industry requirements.  While not formally defined with ASTM terminology, hybrid additive manufacturing is generally considered to be a combination of additive manufacturing (3D printing) and subtractive manufacturing (CNC milling) technologies in a single machine.

Hybrid solutions are often built using a base CNC mill to which the additive technology is added.  For instance, directed energy deposition (DED) additive technology is used for solutions developed by hybrid manufacturing in a wide range of hardware systems such as those produced by DMG Mori and Mazak.  Similarly, sheet lamination additive techniques are used for Fabrisonic’s large-scale hybrid printers, while a laser powder bed based (PBF) SLM approach is implemented by Japanese company Matsuura.

Critics of the hybrid approach disapprove that hybrid systems combine two expensive processes into one machine, wherein only one technique can be used at a time, rather than in parallel systems. The answer to that question is not definitive and depends on the volume and variability of production. While it makes perfect sense to use separate machines for high volume production, the lower volume, high variability jobs are seen by most 3D printers are best tackled with a hybrid approach.

Several hybrid manufacturing hardware systems enable the use of a multiplicity of tools, including tools for inspection and metrology in a single machine. This also means that parts can be finished and milled during the additive process, enabling a greater variety of geometries. In addition, hybrid manufacturing is significantly faster than powder bed additive manufacturing for a wide range of very large parts, due to high deposition rates and production of near net shape (NNS) parts which are rapidly milled into a final geometry. This approach also makes AM significantly faster than any pure CNC system.

Hybrid systems can and have also been used for parts repair. Hybrid enables fixing of an existing component, milling damage areas, and immediately adding material to replace features.  In addition, hybrid manufacturing processes can enable faster and more accurate surface finish: most traditional metal additive processes print parts slightly larger than designed to account for the variable surface finish created when metal powders are printed. This surface variability requires many traditional additive parts to undergo complicated post-build processing.  There is an entire cottage industry developing around simply finishing parts (a hybrid process in itself).  By coupling the additive technique seamlessly with CNC milling, all internal and external surfaces can be milled to traditional CNC finish.  Parts such as high-efficiency heat exchangers come off the machine ready for use.

  • Particle collider upgrade prototyping at CERN, thanks to Thermwood. Through rapid large-scale printing and machining of trimming fixtures.

    Purdue CMSC, in collaboration with Purdue Silicon Detector Laboratory (PSDL), is designing, prototyping, testing, and fabricating composite support structures for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) CMS and ATLAS experiments. This is part of the particle collider’s High Luminosity upgrade, with the installation of final components in 2026-27. The Thermwood LSAM…

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  • Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing (KAM) continues its accelerated growth in hybrid manufacturing by implementing end-to-end cybersecurity protocols and a digital ERP for streamlined quality control. ProShop ERP digital control stations at each point of production allow operators to access drawings and prints to confirm dimensional inspections, access machining simulations, and signoff…

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  • Although additive and subtractive manufacturing processes seem to be on quite the opposite ground, in fact, as these technologies develop, the benefits of hybrid manufacturing are becoming increasingly evident. Hybrid manufacturing systems, equipped with additive and subtractive technology simultaneously, could represent a great technological advance for the industry. These two…

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  • As a service provider active in AM, Burgmaier has been pushing the limits for innovative tooling. 16MnCr5—a favorite material for the tooling industry—combines a very hard surface with a ductile core, and various heat treatments can flexibly adjust its characteristics to the customer’s needs. Burgmaier has now established a technique…

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  • The Romi hybrid manufacturing machine.

    Romi has introduced a complete line of hybrid manufacturing machine tools that combine traditional machining operations with metal additive manufacturing. The new machine is ideal for part repair, adding features, or intricate work where subtractive manufacturing would take more time and produce more waste material. This new generation of D…

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  • Enable Manufacturing has been granted funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, for a project to prove the concept of its Additive Casting process. Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £191 million to fund single and collaborative research and development projects as…

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  • Thermwood LSAM vertical

    Thermwood Corporation has demonstrated a new approach to large-scale 3D printing, one that builds parts up vertically rather than horizontally. The unique process, which has been adapted for the company’s low-cost LSAM MT printer, is enabled thanks to Thermwood’s patented Vertical Layer Print (VLP) technology. Thermwood’s VLP technology is capable…

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  • AddiFab Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials

    Danish startup AddiFab has just announced an extended strategic collaboration with Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials, a global manufacturer of high-performance thermoplastic materials. Together, the companies will bring AddiFab’s Freeform Injection Molding (FIM) process to market, offering manufacturing services based on the technology from three Mitsubishi Chemical locations. Developed by AddiFab,…

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  • ANCA CSIRO hybrid

    ANCA, an Australian manufacturer of machine tools, is teaming up with national science agency CSIRO, Sutton Tools and the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) to develop and bring to market a new hybrid manufacturing platform that combines additive and subtractive capabilities. The new and potentially disruptive system will be designed…

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  • LSAM 1010 Thermwood

    Indiana-based manufacturing company Thermwood has just unveiled a new version of its Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) system: the LSAM 1010. The new system, a low-cost enclosed AM machine, was built to meet the needs of Thermwood’s clients. Last November, Thermwood introduced the LSAM MT, a lower-cost, moving-table version of…

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