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Manufacturing

Metal marriage

By Nick Wright

3D3

Combining 3-D printing with CNC: an unlikely match

April 2014 - Friday, April 4th marks the last day of Inside 3-D Printing Conference and Expo in New York. Aside from plastics, which most people think of when 3-D printing comes to mind, companies at the show presented printed food, musical instruments, firearms, multi-color and multi-material printing. 

But some of the biggest advancements are with metal, and keynote talks from General Electric Co.'s Global Research arm, Airbus and 3D Systems Corp. took both the metal fabricating and burgeoning 3-D printing industries to task. The fact is, metal 3-D printing isn't going away. It's only going to get more popular. Traditional, legacy metal fabrication methods aren't going anywhere either. To that end, in some cases, innovation means combining old and new.

One example that keeps popping up is the collaboration of DMG Mori Seiki and Sauer Lasertec, two tooling makers. The machine, called Lasertec 65, combines CNC milling with additive manufacturing. It seems that 3-D printing, an additive process, would be mutually exclusive to CNC, which is subtractive. The machine has a 5-axis mill, 2 kW of diode laser fusion power, and a 3-D printing head to deposit metal. The idea here is that as layers are printed for complex parts, the CNC tools can access nooks and crannies in the metal that it wouldn't be able to otherwise, even if the mill were to have 11 axes.

This hybrid machine is just one way traditional manufacturers, who might be skeptical of additive manufacturing, can add 3-D printing capabilities without eschewing prevailing tool and die, CNC and other established methods.

Software is certainly a big part of getting more accuracy out of 3-D printers. Carl Bass, CEO of software design firm Autodesk, San Rafael, Calif., tells FFJournal that even though software could potentially be developed that would eliminate CNC needs, "You wouldn't want it to." The marriage of the two technologies will advance both, hand in hand. "We're moving into a world where it's not so much about 3-D printing, but digital manufacturing."

Curtis Carson, Airbus' head of systems integration, Center of Competence Manufacturing Engineering, explained the company has produced titanium parts and plastic components, all in the name of weight savings that could allow planes to fly farther. "We're exploring integrating complex 3-D printing into our manufacturing, without disrupting system stability," he said during his Friday keynote. The amount of 3-D printed made metal is expected to increase. 

3D1

Likewise, GE anticipates 3-D printing 100,000 parts for aviation applications by 2020. "Additive manufacturing can transform the entire value chain," said Christine Furstoss, technical director of manufacturing & materials technologies at GE Global Research. 

3D2

As shows like Inside 3-D Printing demonstrate, however, the technologies availed by big manufacturers like GE, Airbus and others are--and increasingly will be--available to smaller shops, startups and entrepreneurs.

The question now becomes: What will that hold for fabricators? FFJ

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

IRONWORKERS

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters

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Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC. Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

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Mazak Optonics Corp.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. MC Machinery Systems Inc. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC Murata Machinery, USA, Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SecturaSOFT

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TRUMPF Inc. Davi Inc. SigmaTEK Systems LLC
Steelmax Tools LLC

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Trilogy Machinery Inc. Striker Systems

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MTS Sensors

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Bradbury Group

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Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Burghardt + Schmidt Group Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. Rolleri USA

STEEL

Butech Bliss UFP Industrial

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Alliance Steel
Red Bud Industries

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AMADA AMERICA, INC.

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Tishken Advanced Gauging Technologies Automec Inc. BLM Group

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MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys
Mayfran International Cincinnati Inc. SafanDarley

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LVD Strippit

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Barton International
ATI Industrial Automation Scotchman Industries Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
Lissmac Corp. Trilogy Machinery Inc.

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Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Osborn

METAL FORMING

Behringer Saws Inc. Omax Corp.
SuperMax Tools FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Cosen Saws

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Timesavers MetalForming Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip

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MICROFINISHING TOOLS

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Beckwood Press Co. Titan Tool Supply Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company
Triform

 

 

 


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