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Hybrid Manufacturing Technology and Its Use in the Automotive Industry

You can find hybrid manufacturing systems that combine the advantages of additive and machining in a single system and usage examples in the automotive industry in this blog post.

Hybrid Manufacturing Technology and Its Use in the Automotive Industry

Hybrid manufacturing systems are systems that unify the unique advantages of additive and machining manufacturing in a single system. This technology allows one machine to produce finished parts using both manufacturing methods. 

What is Hybrid Manufacturing Technology?

In machining methods, manufacturing takes place by cutting and removing material from a semi-finished part. However, in additive manufacturing, the product is realized by complying materials layer by layer. We can see various advantages and disadvantages in manufacturing methods when we take into account parameters like the design of the machine part, manufacture, and working conditions. 

For example, the manufacturing of some geometries is quite tricky in machining methods. It is much easier to create these geometries with additive manufacturing methods. As the number of parts to be produced increases, additive manufacturing methods become less preferred in terms of cost compared to machining methods. This technology is used to combine advantages like these in one single system. In these technologies, all metal and some plastic materials used in additive manufacturing can be used. 

Industries That Use Those Technologies

The industries that benefit the most from these technologies are aviation, defense and metals medical. With the number of parts produced in these technologies being low, the demand for parts with very sensitive tolerances and the frequency of parts with complex geometries increases the orientation to hybrid manufacturing technologies. Nevertheless, these technologies are not limited to those industries. Companies that produce tires for automotive industries benefit from hybrid manufacturing technologies. 

Hybrid Manufacturing Technology in Vehicle Tire manufacturing

In vehicle tire manufacturing, molds are used to make the final shape of the tires and form their patterns. Tires that have reached a particular stage in manufacturing are placed in these molds and fully inflated in a closed environment to have their final shape and channels. 

The pop-outs in the mold used to form the channels in the tires are called grooves. The ducts' angles, shapes, and patterns are customized for the particular application to affect traction, brake performance, abrasion, noise, and comfort. 

The primary materials used in tire manufacturing depend on summer and winter tires. Rubber provides much better pull when heated; winter tires are made of lower glass transition temperature than summer tires because summer tires heat up on hot asphalt. On the other hand, all-season tires don't exhibit the same performance as summer or winter tires. However, with the advantages of 3D printing, all-season tires can now be produced with higher performance. 

With additive manufacturing, grooves can be produced in tire molds using those technologies without removing the mold from the system. Later on, the surfaces of the grooves can be made smooth by machining within the hybrid manufacturing system. 

Bridgestone manufactures tires with three-dimensional channels that change both inside the tire and along the length of the groove as vehicle tires move, with the help of machining and additive manufacturing. These three-dimensional channels can change the stiffness of the tread block during braking and acceleration, thus giving all-season tires properties closer to winter tires. It does not have a negative effect in terms of wear life, driving or braking traction. 

World-leading tire companies like Bridgestone, Hankook, and Michelin benefit from hybrid manufacturing technologies in mold manufacturing. 

Future of Hybrid Manufacturing Technology

When new generation and traditional manufacturing methods with different advantages are combined, new possibilities for the manufacturing sector and new avenues for engineers to explore emerge. Hybrid manufacturing technologies can change the game for the manufacturing industry and eliminate the need for multi-stage manufacturing. At the same time, it seems like it will be a great way to reduce manufacturing waste. This way, the industry can become environment-friendly.

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