What Are Hybrid Machining Systems and How Are They Transforming Manufacturing

Are you trying to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in engineering but keep falling behind? Engineering is a fast-paced field, and if you've blinked recently, you might be asking yourself, “what are hybrid machining systems?" 

It's okay, though. We understand how busy everyone is, and that's why we've researched for you. We've found everything you need to know about this new manufacturing technology to help you stay informed. 

Keep reading to learn what hybrid machining systems are and how they are transforming manufacturing. 

What is Hybrid Manufacturing?

Hybrid manufacturing, in simple terms, is when additive processes and subtractive processes combine. Of course, there are many other combinations of these processes, but hybrid manufacturing is different. 

What makes it so unique is that with hybrid manufacturing, both the additive and subtractive processes happen simultaneously on the same machine. Hybrid manufacturing uses various materials depending on the machine.  

You can use almost every type of metal in hybrid manufacturing 3D printing from cobalt chrome to titanium. One of the most significant advantages to hybrid metal is that it enables the application of dissimilar metals of the same part. 

Polymer systems use fused filament fabrication, and larger systems use injection molding pellets and reinforced polymers. 

Additive Manufacturing vs. Subtractive Manufacturing

Hybrid machining systems combine additive manufacturing and subtractive manufacturing. It can do both! But additive and subtractive manufacturing have stand-alone processes. 

They differ significantly on a fundamental level, but they fall under the same umbrella in manufacturing.What makes each one unique? What about them makes one more appropriate than the other? 

To better understand hybrid manufacturing, it’s best to first understand what it’s combining. 

Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing creates a product layer by layer. It starts with a 3D model usually created in CAD, and then it's processed by a slicer software. 

The software slices the model into layers and then reconstructs it for the real world. 

3D printing is the most common example of additive machining. But some forms of sculpting and welding are considered additive manufacturing, as well. 

Additive manufacturing creates complex models with minimal setup. It is completely automated and offers flexibility for "on-demand" production. But it has its limitations. Additive manufacturing creates objects that may not be durable enough to withstand certain conditions. 

Workspaces on most 3D printers are also limited. This means larger products need deconstructing so that the machine can print it in smaller components. 

Subtractive Manufacturing

Subtractive manufacturing reproduces a design by removing unneeded material from a solid piece of raw stock. It can work with metal, plastic, glass, wood, or even composites. 

With subtractive manufacturing, computer-aided drilling, and milling is more accurate. 

CNC machines are the most common examples of subtractive machinery found in manufacturing companies. CNC machines complete tasks such as milling, turning, and drilling. 

Some advantages of subtractive machining are that it preserves the integrity of the material used and creates a more superior product than additive machining. 

Because products made with subtractive machining are more durable, it is a popular technology among automobile and aircraft industries. 

CNC machines fall short when it comes to time. They require manual steps like retooling. They also are limited in design because they can't create objects with hollow centers. 

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages?

Hybrid machining systems come with many advantages over additive or subtractive machining alone. 

For one, it cuts down on material costs. Because a hybrid machine uses additive features to add material, it can build and repair broken parts. While also using subtractive features to ensure material only gets added when needed. 

Hybrid machining systems also allow for the combination of various metals. This means you can create something with its own mechanical properties. You can add strength or heat resistance. 

Another advantage of hybrid manufacturing is the ability to switch operations between subtractive and additive. This frees up more workspace and saves time. 

With every new piece of technology, though, there comes a few challenges. Hybrid machining systems are no different here. One of the biggest challenges hybrid manufacturing faces is the cost. It's a substantial investment that most machine shops can't afford. 

And these machines are definitely a learning curve. It takes time to learn the best ways to add and subtract materials. You also have to learn about heating and cooling cycles so that you know how they might impact your project's properties. 

Some people also worry about the hybrid machining systems keeping up with the demands of mass production. 

It's true that hybrid manufacturing is still in its infancy, but the potential is there for people willing to spend the money and learn the machinery. 

Examples of Hybrid Manufacturing

Now we know what hybrid machining systems are, but how are they transforming manufacturing? We've rounded up two examples of products created by hybrid machining systems to show you. 

Curtiss Motorcycles

Curtiss Motorcycles produced a new bike faster than usual with hybrid machining technology. By mixing additive and subtractive methods, they completed the bike within 12 days. 

Among the 60 parts that a hybrid machining system helped create are the intricate aluminum and carbon fiber frame and the V8-style battery cylinders. 

Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners pushed boundaries in additive manufacturing when they used a hybrid machining system called LASIMM. LASIMM helped them produce a 16.4-foot-long structural-steel building truss. 

The company reduced manufacturing time and costs by 20% while increasing productivity by 15% because of the hybrid machining system. 

Stay Up-To-Date on Other Innovations

Tired of never knowing about emerging technology in engineering? Maybe you don't have time to scour the web after work, but you want to be well-informed on your field topics.  

The biggest advantage of knowing more about hybrid machining systems is that you can stay ahead of your competition. You won't be left behind. 

At EMS, we know it's crucial for you to get the latest news about cutting-edge innovations, and we want to save you time on research. That's why we created a newsletter that gets sent out to our subscribers whenever we publish something new on our blog. 

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