The European Federation for Welding, Joining, and Cutting (EWF), Porto Salvo, Portugal, reports that its OpenHybrid consortium project, which includes thirteen contributing partners, has successfully developed two hybrid platforms for Additive Manufacturing and repair applications.
EWF states that combining laser-based Additive Manufacturing and Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machining in a hybrid approach is becoming increasingly popular, with Directed Energy Deposition (DED) being the most commonly used AM process. As the OpenHybrid project nears its conclusion, it has reportedly shown the effectiveness of DED in a broad set of usage scenarios, including mining, automotive and power generation.
A key aspect of the OpenHybrid approach is the use of a standardised docking system. This patented approach, developed by Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies Ltd (HMT), McKinney, Texas, USA, is said to provide greater flexibility, enabling new processing heads for DED AM to be automatically changed during the hybrid AM process.
The consortium project has reportedly developed two hybrid platforms: one for medium parts and another for large parts, in both cases for manufacturing and repair uses, which were demonstrated for repair applications but can now also be used for the manufacture of complete new parts. The first hybrid platform uses a powder head feed system, developed by HMT, while the latter uses a wire head feed system, developed by Fraunhofer IPT and HMT.
One key achievement of the OpenHybrid project was to ensure that the hybrid system could be integrated into any machine tool platform with as much ease as possible. The flexibility of the new approach allows powder and wire feedstock to be processed and the system to be combined with machine tools as well as large scale automation platforms.
According to EWF, it is not common that a single hybrid system can undertake a wide range of processes in a seamless automated operation. The OpenHybrid project has been designed to address the technical and commercial limitations of current hybrid manufacturing systems by developing a single manufacturing system which can achieve this goal.
The project was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. A full list of the partners involved in the OpenHybrid consortium project is available on the project website.