I recently discovered a new video today which shows a relatively recent Hybrid Prototyping metal sintering machine in action. It’s fascinating to watch:
The machine you’re seeing here is the Lasertec 65 hybrid prototyping machine produced by DG Mori.
Hybrid Prototyping Machines are a combination of additive (3D printing) and subtractive (CNC milling) prototyping processes, meaning they’ll build surfaces up and then carve them back down to create the best possible finish.
Manufacturers have been experimenting around with hybrid prototyping technology for a while as a way of addressing the surface finish issue on existing available 3D printed materials. The mechanism seems complicated to calibrate and run, but it does look like consistently better results than with traditional polishing or chemical treatments. There have even been several hybrid prototyping machines introduced to the market over the past year.
Will this technology catch on? I suppose that all depends on how quickly developers are able to make progress in other fronts (such as materials research) for making finer surface finishes for additive manufacturing.