12/8/2015 | 1 MINUTE READ

Hardinge Partners with RIT on Hybrid Manufacturing Project

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The collaboration will equip a Hardinge machining center with powder feeders for hybrid manufacturing research.

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Hardinge has entered a collaborative partnership with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to integrate additive manufacturing functions into the Hardinge GX 250 five-axis vertical machining center platform. Hardinge will be providing field service, design and applications engineering for the program, which aims to take advantage of geometric freedom enabled by hybrid manufacturing while meeting aerospace tolerance requirements. Additional partners on the project include Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies and IPG Photonics.

The GX 250 is a multi-axis machining center designed to produce precision parts. RIT researchers will incorporate multiple powder feeders for metal or ceramic powder to enable directed energy deposition within the machining center. Multiple feeders will allow the use of more than one material within a product, including a combination of metals and ceramics or two or more metals.

"Imagine the power of smoothly transitioning materials, such as from copper to tool steel, or even ceramics in the future. This eliminates the abrupt material composition change that is nearly always the failure point for materials that have vastly different mechanical or thermal characteristics," said Ronald Aman, project lead and assistant professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering.

Aman noted that the project would also explore software challenges, saying that "Today there is no commercial software that can reliably generate the tool paths that are necessary to control both additive and subtractive processes in five-axis equipment. This presents a real challenge for mainstream adoption. We will be addressing this challenge by focusing on improving process planning and toolpath generation, developing new materials, advancing overall process development, and identifying new applications, as well as fundamental research aimed at radically changing the way we think of materials in a part."

RIT has installed a Bridgeport GX 250 in the Brinkman Machine Tools and Manufacturing Lab located within the College of Engineering. In addition to its use in the hybrid machining project with Hardinge, the machining center will also be used to support research in the AMPrint Center for Advanced Technology, a new university-corporate partnership focusing on expanding additive manufacturing and multi-functional printing capabilities, considered key economic drivers in New York State.

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