In Germany, manufacturer Hameul Maschinenbau was given an award for their HSTM 1000 versatile hybrid laser. The award was presented at EMO Hannover, a metalworking trade fair. The machines are judged based on innovation, efficiency, and the engineering process. The laser itself is capable of adapting NC paths to the workpiece geometry, measuring components, and laser milling, cladding, turning, and polishing.
The hybrid laser would be of great help in a machine shop, as it can also remanufacture important metal components, such as turbine blades. This essentially recycles high-valued parts, rather than having to manufacture entirely new ones. This has the added bonus of reducing costs. As new pieces would not have to be remade, it saves time and money on manufacturing.
The machine works by combining five different technologies: Laser cladding, five-axis CNC milling, inspection, robot polishing, and laser marking. Laser cladding is based on welding, and allows material to be fused onto the parts that need to be repaired. In addition there is an automatic method that allows the machine to change between manufacturing processes as easily as one might change gears in a car.
For an example, the laser could be used to fix a worn impeller blade. With the hybrid machine, it would be possible to mill off the worn material, and then use cladding to build the material back up. A second machining operation, using the five-axis milling, would then make the final shape, creating a smooth transition between the original material and the improve one. Polishing and laser marking can be used to complete the project if needed. Lastly, the part inspection would ensure accuracy throughout the stages of building.
As lasers are such a huge part of industrial machining, it is easy to see how useful this hybrid would be, and it is likely that it will soon be a part of machine shops everywhere.