VIDEO: How to Combine Additive and Subtractive Manufacturing

Combining 3D printing with 5-axis machining opens new doors in part design and repair.

Additive manufacturing and 3D printing are hot topics recently, as their proponents claim the technology will change everything. However, on the subtractive side, machining industry experts feel that if you need high volume parts, you need to be making chips.

In the video above, we speak with Kevin Werkheiser, applications engineer at Mazak Corporation, about a new machine that combines additive manufacturing with subtractive 5-axis machining.

“We took our standard VC-500 5-axis machine and we added a clouding head to the side of the spindle,” Werkheiser explained. “We can extract the clouding head down, add material, retract the clouding head back up to the previous position and then bring in a tool to machine it all within the same setup.”

During operation, the VC-500 AM HYBRID Multi-tasking machine uses the heat from a fiber laser to melt the metal powder used to the grow near-net-shape 3D forms.

A cladding head applies molten material in layers, which solidifies as the layers stack.

The laser cladding head can also be used to coat sections of the part with metal, allowing the machine to repair worn or damaged high-value components.

“Rather than scrapping a very expensive component, you can come back in, add that material back on and machine it,” Werkheiser said.

The VC-500 AM can machine parts up to 19.7″ in diameter, 12″ in height and up to 440 lbs.

Industries such as aerospace and R&D centers could also benefit from the technology, and from the ability to use materials including Inconel, stainless steel, cobalt, nickel or copper based alloys.

“I see this technology being very big in industries like oil and gas, where customers see a lot of wear on components,” Werkheiser added. “For example, if you have a shaft that’s constantly rotating, you can machine tungsten carbide onto it to make it much more wear resistant.”

To learn more about the benefits of combined additive and subtractive machining, watch the video above or visit Mazak’s website.

Written by

James Anderton

Jim Anderton is the Director of Content for Mr. Anderton was formerly editor of Canadian Metalworking Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of print and on-line publications, including Design Engineering, Canadian Plastics, Service Station and Garage Management, Autovision, and the National Post. He also brings prior industry experience in quality and part design for a Tier One automotive supplier.