Hybrid machines are expected to be the industrial solution for producing highly complex components. They can bring together multiple processes, such as laser metal deposition (LMD), in a single machine capable of carrying out the entire manufacturing process of such parts. While many hybrid machines exist in the market, they lack maturity for the industry and further research is still needed for the development of their auxiliary elements, such as software solutions, monitoring and control. This presents key challenges for their commercialisation and adoption in the market. Within this scope, the EU-funded PARADDISE project set out to provide stakeholders in the manufacturing value chain with the knowledge, tools and components for hybrid manufacturing technology that brings together additive manufacturing (AM), known as LMD, and conventional machining – milling and turning – processes. “We aimed to make a quantitative and qualitative leap in laser-based AM technology for metallic components by increasing the reliability of the LMD process, its integration with subtractive processes, and by developing a set of tools and ad hoc technologies that facilitate the integration of LMD with consolidated conventional manufacturing methods,” explains Amaia Alberdi, project coordinator.
Towards a combined manufacturing process
To achieve the project’s goals, PARADDISE developed several tools that included a materials and process database, computer-aided technologies, a monitoring control system for the layer height, and smart components such as a smart powder feeder and LMD head. This paved the way for the project’s 11 exploitable results. “One is a hybrid machine for LMD and machining, with integrated smart technologies as well as a monitoring system for a metal LMD process and an LMD materials and process database,” adds Alberdi. This database comprises 12 technical tables containing relevant information such as productivity, geometry and powder efficiency. PARADDISE’s combined process solution was integrated into the IBARMIA ZVH45/1600 Add+Process hybrid machine. Alberdi notes: “This machine is a high-productivity five-axis machining centre, with fixed table and mobile column architecture. It has the capability of executing various manufacturing processes.” The integration, along with two use cases, validated the solution. This gives manufacturers of value-added metallic components the opportunity to produce reliable, high-quality parts, using less material and fewer energy resources. This in turn will reduce manufacturing costs while increasing the solution’s scope for wider adoption in other market segments.
What the future holds
The project team will promote their solution to industrial partners and networks. They also plan to carry out an assessment of how well it integrates into other machining centres that have different architectures from the IBARMIA manufacturer. “This is to increase the target market, and to find new use cases to apply the hybrid concept.” The results of PARADDISE are also expected to lead to job creation. “This will cover qualified profiles such as software engineers for the PARADDISE CAx technologies, design engineers for designing appropriate components and equipment, production engineers for supporting customised and on-demand manufacturing of complex parts, etc.,” concludes Alberdi. This is in addition to the jobs created from the PARADDISE Services Ecosystem that covers services along the life cycle of mechanical products of complex geometries.
PARADDISE, LMD, hybrid machine, metallic components, laser metal deposition, additive manufacturing