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Delcam’s Jan Willem Gunnink presented a paper titled ‘Combining Additive Manufacturing and Subtractive Manufacturing’ at the Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing conference held by Nottingham University on 8–9 July.

The presentation covered one of the several case studies undertaken by Delcam to combine the two technologies, outlining many of the ‘dirty secrets’ that have been learnt along the way. The overall conclusion was that additive manufacturing is like any other manufacturing technology requiring experience and specialist knowledge to ensure success.

In many cases, additive manufacturing is being promoted as a ‘one-button-push’ manufacturing solution that is able to produce any part without the designer, engineer or operator having to consider any limitations to the process. It has its pros and cons that must be understood and appreciated to make the best use of the benefits that the technology can offer.

Some of the cons, including the quality of the surface finish and the lack of accuracy for precise geometry such as holes, can be solved by using subtractive manufacturing (machining) on parts generated with additive manufacturing. However, these subsequent processes do affect the geometry that needs to be produced at the additive stage. Considerations such as reference points are essential to get the most out of the possibilities that the technology can offer for series production.

The key to all these developments is the digital information that is needed for each step from product design to completed manufacture. This data cannot yet be generated automatically but instead needs careful consideration. Manufacturing with the new processes still needs talented engineers that have to be provided with intelligent CAD/CAM tools to combine additive and subtractive manufacturing successfully.

Delcam supplies software and services that help manufacturing companies to maximise their profitability by increasing productivity, improving quality and reducing lead times. The company is the world's largest specialist supplier of computer-aided machining software, with its PowerMILL, FeatureCAM, Partmaker and ArtCAM programs making up the most comprehensive range of CAM systems from any developer.

This broad selection allows Delcam to offer a CAM system capable of machining virtually any product, in any material on any type of equipment. Delcam also develops product design, tooling design and quality control programs. The unique Tribrid Modelling approach to design incorporates solid modelling, surface modelling and triangle modelling in a single program, enabling complete design and reverse engineering projects to be undertaken without transferring data between software.

Delcam's Powerinspect offers fast, reliable comparison of parts, prototypes and tooling against CAD data on all types of inspection equipment and even on machine tools. This versatility has made it the world's leading hardware-independent inspection software. Related programs are available for checking machine tool set-up and part location. Delcam software is used in over 80 countries worldwide by around 40,000 organisations, from large multi-nationals to small sub-contractors, in industries including aerospace, automotive, dental, engineering, footwear, medical and toolmaking.

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