Hermle Another additive-milling unit shows demand for hybrids

Editor: Eric Culp

Is additive manufacturing technology better than subtractive methods such as machining? Some companies have decided both have their place and have combined the two in a single machine tool. Journalist Walter Frick reports on one such machine.

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Working environment of a five-axis processing centre with integrated MPA technology during manufacture of a tool insert.
Working environment of a five-axis processing centre with integrated MPA technology during manufacture of a tool insert.
(Source: Hermle)

Germany’s Hermle Maschinenbau, Ottobrunn, offers customers of its other machine tools the opportunity to take advantage of its MPA technology (metal powder application).

Related: ‘Disrupting’ the market with a hybrid production centre

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MPA technology, a thermal injection process for metal powder that uses kinetic energy to meld the material to the build surface is said to enable the generative production of large-volume components with almost any desired inner geometry. To apply the material, powder particles are accelerated via a carrier gas to high speeds and applied via a nozzle to the substrate.

The application unit for the metal powder is integrated into a Hermle 5-axis processing centre. DMG Mori recently announced a similar hybrid machine tool technology that melds subtractive and additive manufacturing, but the company’s laser method for building up parts is much more energy-intensive, Hermle said. The company noted that the hybrid notion of its machine means that “a proven cutting technology has been extended to include the numerous possibilities of generative production,” according to the company.

Taking advantage of previous forays into coating

In this regard, the supplier has years of relevant experience: as early as 2007, it presented an application and coating process developed by its Innovaris subsidiary, the so-called Alchemy technology. This process combines a coating procedure with conventional milling. Here, metal powder is applied by kinetic compacting (“micro-forging”). The various media used in the process – metal powder, water, electricity and oxygen-reduced compressed air – lead to compact and completely sealed working materials, the supplier said.

A “fully functional production installation”, presented at the Hermle in-house exhibition in 2007, was initially, however, not brought onto the market, but developed further “in order to exploit the wealth of further technological applications.”

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