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May 2018

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Companies Collaborate to Advance Additive Manufacturing



The manufacturing world is embracing 3-D metal printing in a big way. GE Aviation is using it to print fuel nozzles, saving aircraft owners millions in operation costs annually per plane. Medical device companies use it to print patient-specific orthopedic implants and life-saving surgical instruments. These are just a few examples of the gigantic strides metal printing has made over the past decade, with countless more to come as the technology becomes increasingly mainstream.

There is only one problem though: despite its capabilities, metal 3-D printing requires secondary processing-machining or grinding-to remove any support structures used during the build process and oftentimes needs additional machining to achieve the desired part accuracy and surface finish. 

Addressing a Need

3D-Hybrid Solutions Inc. leverages a hybrid approach to 3-D printing. "By integrating metal printing technology with a CNC machine tool, it is possible to apply powdered metal or wire feedstock at rates of up to 20 lbs. per hour (in some applications), then machine the part to precise dimensions on the same machine," said a company spokesperson. "There is no need for secondary fixtures because internal holes and channels can be machined before being 'closed up' during printing. Part accuracy is improved, and processing times are substantially faster than with conventional 3-D printers."

"Aside from the relatively slow build speeds, that is the biggest drawback with 3D printed metal," said 3D-Hybrid Solutions' Karl Hranka, Founder and CEO, 3D-Hybrid Solutions. "Secondary machining of some sort is almost always needed, and on larger workpieces such as molds and aerospace components, this can mean a lot of unnecessary production expense and lead-time. In most cases it makes good sense to do this machining while actually building the part in order to machine hard-to-reach features. By consolidating the two technologies, companies can achieve broader capability and greatly reduce total capital investment costs and operating costs. 

 

Partners in Printing

The risks in moving a 5-axis deposition head around a workpiece whose geometry is continually changing are obvious. And being that many of 3D-Hybrid Solution's potential customers employ large, expensive machine tools, the need for a toolpath simulation and verification tool became abundantly clear. To address these concerns, 3D-Hybrid Solutions collaborated with CGTech, which recently introduced a verification tool aimed specifically at additive manufacturers.

"Whether additive or subtractive machining, we consider ourselves experts in CNC machine kinematics, control technology, how the toolpaths and G-codes interact on a machine. VERICUT simulates the same NC program that will drive the CNC machine, ensuring the highest level of verification possible," said Gene Granata, VERICUT product manager at CGTech. "This makes us a perfect fit in a hybrid machining situation. Not only can users check for the usual concerns like over-travels and tool collisions, but they are also able to verify additive specific conditions-what is the layer thickness, how much stepover was used and whether the proper gas and laser codes and settings are used to assure a robust build."

Some key points of the VERICUT solution include:

  • Operators are able to "add-cut" or "cut-add" material, in any order and with any type of machining done, whether it is a 5-axis CNC machining center, multitasking turn-mill lathe, or deposition-style robot.
  • As with all VERICUT products, the ability to accurately simulate the actual G-codes provide users with the assurance that hybrid machine tools will be protected from expensive crashes, and avoid set-ups that do not work.
  • Laser parameters and material deposition rates controlled directly by additive codes in the post-processed NC program are verified for proper additive functions and ranges.
  • VERICUT provides a realistic view of additive material deposition-it is easy to differentiate deposited "unfinished" material from previously machined features.

* Using VERICUT's AUTO-DIFF gouge check feature, voids and missing material are clearly visible, eliminating the chance for costly rework or potential part failures. 

  • Unique "droplet" technology provides programmers with detailed history of the build process and makes it easy to identify the exact source of problems via a single click, regardless of how many toolpaths or even setups are used to manufacture the part.

Granata said, "People are really catching on to what is possible with additive manufacturing, and the ability to machine parts and fabricate tooling in the same process brings that much more to the table. This collaboration will make the technology much easier and safer for companies to adopt."

For more information contact:

CGTech

9000 Research Drive

Irvine, CA 92618

949-753-1050

info@cgtech.com

www.cgtech.com

3D-Hybrid Solutions

info@3dhybridsolutions.com

www.3dhybridsolutions.com 

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