Mazak Unveils Hybrid Approach to Additive Manufacturing
Ian Wright posted on April 13, 2016 |
Mazak's INTEGREX i-400AM.
Mazak's INTEGREX i-400AM.
The INTEGREX i-400AM represents Mazak’s entry into metal additive manufacturing (AM), combining 3D printing with CNC milling and turning. The hybrid machine is designed for small lot production of materials that are difficult to cut, such as those used in the aerospace, energy and medical industries.

In operation, the machine melts metal powder with a fiber laser and then applies the resultant molten material using additive manufacturing nozzles called cladding heads. It is also capable of joining different types of metals together, enabling it to repair worn or damaged components, such as aerospace turbine blades.

The cladding heads are stored in the tool magazine and loaded into the milling turret by a standard automatic tool changer, just like any other tool. However, in the typical additive manufacturing dilemma, users must choose between two types of cladding head: high speed or high accuracy.

On the subtractive side, the INTEGREX i-400M features full 5-axis capability for processing prismatic parts from solid billets or castings (chucked or bar-fed). This includes round parts, highly contoured parts and parts with features built using AM technology.

The machine offers -30/+120-degree B-axis movement in its milling spindle, C-axis contouring with its turning spindle and a programmable NC tailstock.

Mazak’s decision to combine additive and subtractive processes in a single machine is indicative of the growing prominence of metal 3D printing in manufacturing, but it also represents a gamble.

Since metal 3D printing is only just beginning to find industrial uses beyond prototyping, it’s still an open question whether the future of AM lies in hybrid machines, like the INTEGREX i-400AM, or in separate machining centers linked to subtractive machines via automated pallet-loading systems.

Mazak is clearly betting on the former.

The company will present its hybrid approach to additive manufacturing at RAPID in Orlando, Florida, May 16-19.

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