AddSub Manufacturing is the latest offering from STAR Prototype, a British-owned rapid manufacturing company based in China, and it’s a process which combines metal 3D printing and 5-axis CNC machining to deliver complex, low-volume components.

The process uses the Renishaw AM250 3D printer to produce extremely dense, highly complex metal parts and structures which are then post machined on the HAAS 5-Axis CNC machine. The parts are often built on the AM250 and in the correct orientation with machining supports designed into the build so that the build plate can be directly transferred to the 5-axis CNC machining equipment.

The company says fabricating such parts would previously have required the input of at least two separate bureaus.Gordon Styles of AddSub

Based in Guandong Province, China, STAR Prototype developed the service in response to the love of one-stop shopping methods. The popularity of this business model signaled a need in the market, and STAR Prototype was there to oblige.

“Most metal 3D printed parts are not used as prototypes, but as complex low-volume manufactured components, and many of these parts need certain high-precision features that are virtually impossible to produce with 3D printing alone,” says Gordon Styles, the President of STAR. “The problems arise because most 3D printing companies don’t carry out secondary machining, meaning the customer needs to take care of the work themselves or farm it out to a specialist machining bureau.”

Gordon Styles of AddSub detailAddSub Manufacturing allows parts to be transferred directly from 3D printing machines onto CNC machines without the need to remove them from the build plate. They intend for the system to resolve any number of problems that may arise when subcontractors are involved with 3D printed components.

“STAR is world-renowned for its CNC machining capabilities and forward thinking approach to adopting new technology and improving customer service provision,” continued Styles. “AddSub was very much born out of a combination of the two and we are confident it will prove of enormous benefit to businesses across the globe.”

According to STAR, it’s the specialized nature of 3D printed metal parts which required a change in approach.

“Most metal 3D printed parts are not used as prototypes, but as complex low-volume manufactured components, and many of these parts need certain high-precision features that are virtually impossible to produce with 3D printing alone,” Styles says. “The problems arise because most 3D printing companies don’t carry out secondary machining, meaning the customer needs to take care of the work themselves or farm it out to a specialist machining bureau.”

STAR’s reputation for CNC machining capabilities was part of the company’s decision to adopt new technology, Styles noted. The company says the subtractive CNC element of AddSub is ideal for mating faces, creating precision bores, tapping holes and other high-precision features and add that AddSub will be of particular use to motors ports, aerospace, military, medical and dental users.

STAR says they’ve invested heavily in inspection and QC activities to ensure that their parts are to the highest of standards and that more than ten full-time inspectors – overseen by a manager with 30 years experience in metrology and inspection – take advantage of the equipment.

Have you noticed a trend among manufacturing equipment suppliers toward building hybrid subtractive and additive systems? Let us know in the AddSub Manufacturing forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below of Gordon Styles introducing the AddSub system.

 

 

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