One of the most exciting advancements in machining technology currently is the incorporation of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies into Multi-Tasking machines. At Mazak, they call this concept HYBRID Multi-Tasking, and its advantages are immense. HYBRID Multi-Tasking not only revolutionizes product design and reduces time to market, but it cuts R&D costs and opens many new doors for the customers to explore new areas of business.
At IMTS, Mazak will be demonstrating how the HYBRID approach combines all the advantages of additive and subtractive manufacturing in a single machine. This approach provides the high-quality surface finishes and desirable high outputs of subtractive machining with additive manufacturing’s ability to produce complex, intricate and delicate parts. HYBRID Multi-Tasking machines can apply multiple materials onto the same piece to generate features that are harder and/or lighter than the base material of the workpiece.
To show how this technology works, they will be debuting the new Mazak VC-500 AM HYBRID Multi-Tasking machine. Designed and manufactured in Florence, Kentucky, this new compact, cost effective HYBRID Multi-Tasking machine is ideal for manufacturers who require optimum part finish and high accuracy. It builds part features to near net shape up to ten times faster than other comparable systems quickly and easily without wasting expensive material and losing time by subtracting large amounts of metal from a solid material using normal Multi-Tasking machining technology.
Constructed on a simple, compact 5-axis platform, the new VC-500 AM is cost effective and accommodates a wide range of part sizes and shapes. It can machine parts up to 19.7″ in diameter, 12″ in height and up to 440 lbs. The additive cladding head can work in the same machining area, depending on the application and location of the features of the part.
The new VC-500 AM offers users geometric freedom vis-a-vis direct metal deposition, which allows for both additive and subtractive machining capabilities in a single setup. The laser cladding heads of the new Mazak VC-500 AM reside side-by-side with the subtractive machining spindle.
The two interchangeable laser cladding heads provide options for high rate and fine metal deposition. While subtractive roughing operations remove large amounts of material and finishing operations lesser amounts, these two laser cladding heads perform the opposite to rough or fine build part features. They can also be manually switched out in the spindle to complete the desired additive operation.
The fine cladding head deposits a 0.039″/1mm diameter spot onto a workpiece, while the rough cladding head deposits a 0.118″/3mm diameter spot. The roughing cladding head deposits material more quickly and shortens cycle times, while the fine cladding head delivers higher quality surface finishes.
During operation, the VC-500 AM uses fiber laser heat to melt the chosen metal powder that will be used to grow the near-net-shape 3D forms. The cladding head applies the molten material layer by layer, all of which solidify as the desired part surface or features grow. The laser cladding heads can also be used to coat chosen sections of the part with metal, allowing the machine to repair worn or damaged high-value components. Once the part features are grown to near net shapes, the VC-500 AM applies one or more of its advanced subtractive processes, including milling and drilling, to complete the part.
When the additive manufacturing nozzle is not in use, it is protected by a door to seal out dust and debris. This cover prevents damage to the AM nozzle and therefore limits required maintenance and necessary downtime.
By themselves, Multi-Tasking machines provide dramatically increased productivity by combining milling and drilling in a single setup to significantly reduce part cycle times. Adding AM technology to this already powerful list of capabilities creates a whole new level of production possibilities.