How to develop seamless hybrid manufacturing processes

There are several excellent reasons for deploying hybrid manufacturing – it is more sustainable and flexible than traditional machining and is an efficient way to modify parts and to iterate engineering projects. But it is also less well understood than subtractive manufacturing, making it essential to put in place seamless hybrid manufacturing processes that are easy for existing design, production and inspection teams to deploy.

One of the major drivers of hybrid manufacturing is waste reduction. Machining is reliable but it can result in as much as 80% of the material involved in making a complex part being thrown away. Clearly that’s bad for both the environment and cost-effectiveness.

In contrast, hybrid manufacturing makes it possible to greatly minimise waste by using additive techniques to form the part and then subtractive methods to precisely machine only the functional areas. Hybrid manufacturing is also ideal for parts that require the deposition of a harder metal, such as Inconel.

Not every production team, however, has additive manufacturing skills on board, so any technology deployment needs to make the move to hybrid manufacturing as straightforward as possible.

For example, one of the key processes in hybrid manufacturing is adding material to an initial stock. Whether using powder, wire deposition, metalisation or extrusion, it’s important to be able to simulate the material construction with dynamic collision checking, while also creating the evolving stock for surface finishing and any other post-processing tasks. And it needs to be done as quickly and automatically as possible. EDGECAM software from Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has been designed to create the machine additive nozzle paths while creating the 3D model of the built product. It can then apply surface finishing plus other tool paths that will complete the manufacture process, all in a single NC code generated in a unified and seamless environment.

Hybrid modelling also greatly simplifies part modification and engineering iterations, including stress simulation, with manufacturers using a scanner to extract virtual geometrical data out of the relevant physical parts, before reverse-engineering models using the resulting point-cloud data. Again, high levels of productivity and cost-efficiency depend on having processes and technology that can use data effectively to simplify hybrid manufacturing.

Contact your local Hexagon representative to find out more about how we help customers use hybrid manufacturing to create a more versatile production and maintenance environment.

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