Why Additive Manufacturing Belongs on a Machine Tool

In more ways than one, the platform for subtractive manufacturing is also the enabler for additive.


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Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies makes an award-winning head that enables additive manufacturing capability to be added to a standard machine tool. Far from being competing capabilities, Hybrid cofounder Jason Jones, Ph.D., says “subtractive” CNC machining and additive manufacturing complement one another. Additive makes sense on machine tools, he says, for three reasons:

1. Setup reduction. A production metal part made through additive manufacturing is probably going to need machining before it is complete. Mating surfaces and threaded holes, for example, need to be machined. Therefore, why not perform the additive build on the machine tool, where this finish machining can be performed as part of the same cycle?

2. Energy expense. Additive manufacturing requires a heat source intense enough to melt metal. If you are going to invest in the power needed for this melting, then why limit the capability to the small build volume typical of a stand-alone additive machine? Bringing additive manufacturing to a big machine tool permits the use of that machine’s travels.

3. Less dramatic shift. Cultural inertia impedes the adoption of additive manufacturing. Longtime manufacturing professionals are familiar with CNC machine tools, but the additive machines are strange to them. Adding the additive capability to the machine tool provides an easier path to adoption.

Read more about the arrival of hybrid additive/subtractive machines.