Cost efficiency and lower ecological impact are some of the benefits from hybrid processing technology

Hybrid processing technologies combine two or more existing technologies to form a new technological approach so that the advantages of each existing technology can be used synergically. Although it can result in more than just that.

The benefits of hybrid technologies at production level have already been known for some time. Improved surface quality, faster material removal, or even completely new applications are also possible. For example, laser assisted turning makes it more efficient and provides higher surface accuracy when working on items made from ZrO2 and Si3N4, which in the past was exceptionally difficult, or even impossible due to the extreme wear involved in working with such materials. Fraunhofer IPT took the first steps in this direction with respect to collective research, which was supported by Sirris.

Cost efficient, eco-friendly production

In addition to the technical production benefits, hybrid technologies can also mean taking an important step towards greater cost efficiency and eco-friendly production of components. By heating up material prior to machining in laser assisted turning or milling, the cutting power is lowered and so wear on the tool is reduced, making it possible to remove four times the amount of material per pass in comparison with conventional turning. Faster production deploying lower cutting power results in increased machine productivity, as well as lower energy consumption per item thanks to the much lower energy consumption of the laser in comparison with the standard total machining operation. Lower tool wear also contributes to lowering costs and reducing the ecological footprint.

Recent research has demonstrated that a 50% reduction in the total cost per item is possible by using hybrid laser assisted turning or milling on both metals and ceramics. It is therefore clear that low energy and cost effective production go hand in hand in this case thanks to progress made in the field of hybrid processing technology. 

Photo: Laser assisted turning of ZrO2 (Source: Fraunhofer IPT)

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