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This awesome 'replicator' combines industrial machining with laser 3D printing to create just about anything [Innovation]
posted January 24 2014 15:53.26 by spic0m




Laser printing of metals has proven itself as a viable manufacturing process. No longer just for "impossible to machine" or waifish parts where material characteristics were the design feature needed rather that microstructural strength, 3D now delivers on a dime. It is no surprise then, that manufacturers with million-dollar multi-function machines, now want a 3D print head to fill one of the many open spots in their on board tool-changers.

Hybrid machines that combine different operations are nothing new, at least for standard subtractive machining. They are disproportionately hard to program (and expensive) and so they don't really speed up manufacturing all that much. What they do provide is accuracy. An internal fixation screw used to rebuild spines can not be turned on a lathe, and then transferred to a mill to broach a hex-head, if the tolerances on the flats are just one or two microns. That's because no operator, human or robotic, can reposition a part across machines with that precision. Even the same part held in two different set-ups on the same machine would be difficult because the machine itself is probably expanding and contracting by much more than that tolerance over the timescales of such an operation. Some machines even have fluid pumped through the hollow threaded shaft of the drive that moves the axes so that it remains at constant temperature.



[Link: extremetech]
 
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