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Hybrid Manufacturing Requires In-Process Measurement

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Hybrid manufacturing processes rely on in-process metrology both to verify that enough stock has been printed, as well as to check the final machined surface geometry.

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With additive manufacturing (AM) growing more prevalent, some machine shops are beginning to invest in hybrid machining centers with both additive and subtractive manufacturing capabilities. This enables them to benefit from both the design freedom of AM machines and the precision and accuracy of a machine tool. While many machines benefit from in-process verification, they are a must for hybrid machines. Because hybrids print the forms that must be machined, there are multiple steps in which the machine must pause to verify results. The manufacturer must be able to verify that enough stock has been produced before a machining process begins, then verify that enough material has been removed before moving to the next step.

To take full advantage of the opportunities that in-process probing provides, shops need to be able to process and adapt the information that the touch probe provides. PowerInspect from Autodesk, for example, can automatically process information from inspection and make necessary adjustments to the tool path. The software can generate and simulate inspection paths, then transfer those paths to the machine tool. PowerInspect enables users to align workpieces, measure complex geometric features, calculate alignments and verify the tolerance of complex shapes, all without having to transfer the workpiece from the machine. The time savings can be significant, its five-axis inspection capabilities are especially useful for probing complex geometries and deep holes.

Additionally, PowerInspect benefits from its seamless integration with PowerMill, Autodesk’s CAM platform, enabling manufacturers to make use of the advanced inspection capabilities of PowerInspect, seamlessly transferring G code and M code without jumping through hoops. This by itself can be an important time saver, essentially cutting minutes out of every machining operation on any machine running both PowerInspect and PowerMill...READ MORE