A project to develop a better hybrid manufacturing system – containing both additive and subtractive technologies – is now underway.
The three-year OpenHybrid project will aim to address the technical and commercial limitations of current hybrid manufacturing systems. It began in October 2016 and is being led by the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, UK.
Project partners will develop demonstrator systems that will provide additional competitiveness to industries from power generation to automotive and mining equipment sectors.
The work follows on from a similar system built by the MTC as part of a project called Reclaim.
It is expected that the new OpenHybrid systems will deliver a 25 per cent reduction in time and costs when compared with current equipment and processes, as well as 15 per cent increase in productivity for high-volume additive manufacturing production. The project is also expected to generate a 20 per cent reduction in inventory and 40 per cent on work floor space, even by enlarging the working volume of the machine by scaling axes from millimetres (today) up to 20 metres (at the end of the project).
Furthermore, the new system will be able to switch between powder and wire feed-stock within a single part. This gives the ability to use several materials within the same workpiece, a must-have for various industries as they look to optimise cost, weight and resources. Moreover, the process can be fitted to a diverse range of platforms, as well as to existing machine tools.
The project will build: smart laser cladding heads, incorporating temperature sensors and material feed sensing; a laser scanning head for heat treatment, polishing and texturing; laser ultrasonic non-destructive testing inspection for defect analysis; enhanced gas shielding, medium shielding through a trailing shield and high shielding through a flexible enclosure; mechanical stress relieving through the development of ultrasonic needle peening head; contamination control through the development of a cleaning head; and enhanced inspection using combined thermal and optical imaging.
Among the project partners, which include Siemens and the Fraunhofer organisation, it is supported by the European Federation of Welding, Joining and Cutting.