British-owned STAR Prototype has launched AddSub Manufacturing: a process combining metal 3D printing, and five-axis CNC machining, to quickly deliver complex, low-volume components.
STAR, which bases its operations in China’s Guandong Province, developed the service after identifying a significant demand for a one-stop-shop for such components.
“Most metal 3D-printed parts are not used as prototypes, but as complex low-volume manufactured components,” company president Gordon Styles explained. “Many of these parts need certain high-precision features that are virtually impossible to produce with 3D printing alone.
“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.”
That’s why, Styles says, STAR has aimed to remove the time-consuming, and often error-strewn leg from the manufacturing process with AddSub.
STAR says the “groundbreaking” system is the world’s first which combines additive and subtractive machining, by allowing parts to be transferred directly from its 3D printing machines onto its CNC machines without having to be removed from the build plate.
“STAR is world-renowned for its CNC machining capabilities and our forward thinking approach to adopting new technology and improving customer service provision,” Styles continued.
“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.”
STAR sees the subtractive CNC element of AddSub as being ideal for mating faces, precision bores, tapped holes, spigots and other very necessary high-precision features.