The best of both worlds
Germany – Combining different processing steps in one machine is attractive for several reasons: it saves space, a component can be machined in a single setup, and higher accuracy can therefore be achieved. Hybrid machines, where additive manufacturing processes are incorporated in one machining centre, are currently in fashion. Renowned companies in the sector, ranging from DMG Mori and Hamuel to Hermle and Mazak, in the meantime offer suitable machines.
For a long time it has been one small step after the other. What began as rapid prototyping slowly developed towards tooling and manufacturing. Today, additive production is on everyone’s lips in the form of 3D printing. But in spite of all the growth forecasts, not every component will come out of the printer, even in the future. Even if, according to Wohlers' report, the global market for additively manufactured goods and services is expected to rise from $US3 billion (2013) to around $21bn by 2020, this will not be achieved without metal cutting.
The allegedly competitive process to metal cutting even offers opportunities for the manufacturers of machine tools – in that it combines both techniques. And more and more suppliers are placing their trust in such hybrid machines. The subject has attracted increasing attention ever since industry leader DMG Mori introduced the Lasertec 65 3D at the Euromold trade fair for the first time in December 2013.
Berthold Hermle AG entered the field of generative manufacturing even earlier. The 100% subsidiary, Hermle Maschinenbau GmbH with its headquarters in Ottobrunn near Munich, has been offering the Metal Powder Application process (MPA) since the spring of 2013. Hybrid manufacturing is possible thanks to the incorporation of an applicator into a five-axis machining. “The decision to offer this technology as a service to Hermle customers only was the right one,” says Dipl. Phys. Rudolf Derntl, managing director of Hermle Maschinenbau GmbH, explaining the concept. “The customer is able to use existing know-how from years of MPA development for his product without having to invest in an MPA system.”