Hybrid AM applications are an area of strong growth and market potential in AM. Applications currently leading the market are applying coatings, repairing equipment, adding features, and growing parts, in that order. In short, the less material you have to add in AM, typically, the better the business case.
It only takes a few minutes to put an additive coating on a part or piece of equipment, and this greatly extends its life. Coatings are frequently added to impart desired characteristics such as hardness. Adding a strong, nickel-based superalloy to the edges of bronze molds makes them last much longer, while retaining bronze for the rest of the mold still allows the desired heat transfer capability. New coatings reduce part replacement frequency which alone justifies the cost. In many applications, because of the locations of the parts, the time required to disassemble the machine and take out a part is worth more than the part itself.
Repairing equipment also benefits from the addition of a higher-performance material to increase its life, similar to the ROI for coatings. For instance, if an outer edge is the only area that must be repaired, such as on a blade, it is more cost effective to repair that than to buy a new blade to replace it.
“The low-hanging fruit is repair operations of expensive parts – machining out the worn or damaged portion and adding new material to that area,” said Joe Wilker, Hybrid Multi-Tasking Manager, Mazak. “For example, turbine blades and blowers used in mining equipment get destroyed very quickly due to their use in harsh mining environments. When adding the new material, the part can often be made harder by adding a new alloy, or multiple alloys.”
To learn more about hybrid AM applications as well as others read our white paper here.
Read part one here.