The selection of manufacturing technology is largely determined by the application – in one case certain technology defects will not affect the quality of the detail, in another they will be of key importance. Manufacturers trying to minimize the number of disadvantages in favor of implication of the advantages of manufacturing methods create so-called hybrid solutions. In the case of additive technologies, the most popular is combining them with methods of precise subtractive manufacturing, which in theory is supposed to give much better results than when using these technologies separately. What does it look like in reality?

In manufacturing industry, the most common hybrid machines are large-format production systems, available in the offer of companies such as MAZAK, OR Laser, allowing for production from metallic materials. However, the offer of such devices is getting wider every year – they are also joined by 3D printers working in FDM or SLA technology.

For many companies, hybrid technologies are a variation on the classic product offer. The companies offering hybrid solutions include both companies that come from the CNC milling industry (including DMG Mori, Ibarmia, Mazak, Mitsui Seiki, Okuma and WFL Millturn) as well as those related to additive production – GE Additive, Matsuura, Optomec, OR Laser and Trumpf.

It is no wonder that companies decide on such a step – the hybrid machine market is driven by promises of multifunctionality and increasing the profitability of manufacturing processes. For hybrid machines, the main advantage is the combination of two complementary technologies to achieve the best end result. This allows both the creation of new elements and repairs (by surfacing and then milling to obtain the desired geometry), using a wide range of materials. In addition, the savings result from the purchase of one multifunctional device instead of creating a machine park, which reduces the number of repairs, inspections or employees operating machines. At the same time, it is a saving resulting from the reduction of time – each time you move a part (e.g. from a 3D printer to a CNC machine), it extends the production time.

An alternative to hybrid devices is to create a machine park according to the principles of Industry 4.0, connected by a wireless network that allows information to flow between devices. The choice depends on the recipient – the system of connected machines is a large logistics undertaking and will be used in, among others in modern factories of the future.

Hybrid solutions are used by companies from the automotive and aviation industries, as well as representatives of the oil, gas or construction industries.

Magdalena Przychodniak
Editor-in-Chief of the 3D Printing Center. A biomedical engineer following the latest reports on bioprinting and 3D printing in modern medicine.

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