Nikon invests in hybrid manufacturing firm

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HMT's technology enables processes such as laser cladding to be combined with mechanical CNC processes. (Image: HMT)

Following the recent announcement of its intentions to acquire SLM Solutions, Nikon has expanded its interest in additive manufacturing (AM) further by announcing an additional investment into Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies (HMT). 

The investment will enable the two firms to leverage their combined expertise and accelerate innovation in the hybrid manufacturing landscape.

Manufacturers will often use AM and machining in tandem to produce parts, depending upon their specific production goals and tolerances. 

HMT's approach enables users to integrate additive tools onto any platform, enabling multiple complementary technologies to be unified.

The technology enables what it says is a “game-changing” leap forward by unlocking the freedoms of AM while retaining the precision and surface finish capabilities of CNC, all in a single system. 

When using its “Ambit” deposition heads, only a simple tool change is required to switch from cutting to additive capabilities, giving users exceptional flexibility in metal processing. 

Such tool-changeable heads are not limited to laser processes, but are also compatible with numerous materials and a vast array of deployment methods. HMT can also upgrade existing vertical platforms to enable both additive and subtractive machining capabilities in one system, or create bespoke solutions with customised heads to meet the user's objectives.

Nikon’s high-precision equipment is used in applications ranging from semiconductor manufacturing and the mass production of panels for televisions and smart devices, to medical, automotive and satellite systems. The firm established its ‘Next Generation Project Division’ to accelerate the launch of new growth businesses, including advanced materials processing technologies, through synergies resulting from strategic investments and alliances with industry-leading companies worldwide.

Yuichi Shibazaki, Nikon’s Corporate Vice President and General Manager of the division, said: "This investment in HMT is the latest component of our Next Generation Project programme to further industrialisation of digital manufacturing. As an industry leader with demonstrated collaborative capabilities, HMT and its Ambit portfolio are well-matched with Nikon technologies. We look forward to working with them as part of our commitment to creating value and advancing society through novel industries like hybrid manufacturing." 

Dr Jason B. Jones, HMT Co-founder and CEO, added, "We are honoured to receive investment from such a longstanding technology leader as Nikon. Together we will more fully deliver on the promise of additive and digital manufacturing. We expect the results of this technology will touch the lives of virtually all people on earth in the coming decades."

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