Hurco Companies, manufacturer of CNC machines and tools, has announced today the filing of a patent for a hybrid CNC machining-3D printing technology. The device allows for the company’s already existing machine tools to 3D print without using a separate 3D printer.
The company’s president, Gregory Volovic, explained the technology as follows, “We designed an additive manufacturing adapter that, in combination with proprietary Hurco control software, effectively turns a CNC milling machine into a 3D printer. 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.”
With the hybrid machine, Hurco customers will now be able to do all of their prototyping in-house, using 3D printing and CNC machining. In addition to the current 3D printing adapter, Hurco will be expanding the line to include other types of 3D printing processes, yet to be revealed to the public. Volovic says that their new adapter will debut at the International Machine Tool Show in Chicago this year. He adds, “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.”
Many Makers in the 3D printing community have been working on their own, small-scale hybrid machines, capable of CNC milling or laser cutting with the simple change of a tool head. And companies like iRobot have been researching the ability to create all-in-one manufacturing stations. This, however, is the first industrial manufacturer who has announced the actual production of hybrid 3D printing-CNC machining. No desktop or workbench devices, Hurco’s equipment could pave the way for a future where both 3D printers and CNC mills are a thing of the past. This hybrid device is just a few robot arms and soldering guns away from an all-purpose manufacturing machine.