Even though 3D printing is just coming of age, computer controlled manufacturing equipment has been in use for ages. In particular, computer numerical control (CNC) milling machines, are used by tens of thousands of manufacturers across the globe to cut parts with precision that would not be achievable by other means.
One Indianapolis, Indiana company, Hurco, knows quite a bit about CNC technology. Founded 46 years ago, the company has a mission statement that reads, “To provide unique, innovative software and CNC controls that help our customers maximize productivity through reduced setup time and multi-tasking on the shop floor.”
With tens of thousands, if not more, CNC machines owned by manufacturers worldwide, it is ashame that any of them would have to invest additional capital on high tech 3D printers. These 3D printers use mostly of the same parts as a typical CNC machine, and work in much the same way. Hurco understands this and has taken the initiative to invent an adaptor which they have just filed a patent application for. The adapter basically turns CNC milling machines into fully functioning 3D printers.
“We designed an additive manufacturing adapter that, in combination with proprietary Hurco control software, effectively turns a CNC milling machine into a 3D printer,” said Gregory Volovic, President of Hurco Companies, Inc. “Hurco has a long history of inventing technology that allows our customers to be more productive and profitable. This is yet another Hurco innovation making advanced technology accessible to a broad range of customers. With this new additive manufacturing capability, users may go from print to plastic prototype to finished metal part on one machine without repeated set-ups and without multiple prototyping utilizing costly metals and raw material.”
In addition to all this, Hurco is also working hard on trying to expand this invention to include numerous other additive manufacturing processes.
“We recently filed a utility patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describing and claiming a variety of novel features of our 3D printing technology. Our control technology will provide our customers speed and ease of use in performing CNC-based, 3D printing and prototyping. With our new next generation control technology debuting at the International Machine Tool Show in Chicago later this year, Hurco is very excited to be introducing not only a new look for our products and our new CNC machine control, but also innovative capabilities not found on other CNC machines,” said Volovic.
Such a breakthrough could save manufacturers millions of dollars, as their current equipment can be re-purposed or co-purposed to include that of 3D printing. Companies which had considered purchasing 3D printing equipment in the past, but decided against it due to costs, may now be able to affordably add 3D printing to their manufacturing capabilities.
Will this technology lead to widespread adoption of 3D printing among manufacturers? Let’s hear your opinion in the Hurco patent forum on 3DPB.com.
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