As 3D printing technology advances and matures, it’s exciting to watch as its capabilities grow and expand into numerous industries. It’s also becoming clear, however, that as advanced as 3D printing gets, it’s not going to replace other technologies like CNC machining. And that’s a good thing. Think of it like a balanced diet – one food or family of foods isn’t going to get you all the nutrition that you need, just as one form of manufacturing isn’t going to take care of every requirement. Different types of manufacturing work together and complement one another. 3D printing may be right for one job, while CNC machining is better for another.

Sometimes, though, both technologies are needed for the same part. That’s why many manufacturers have turned to hybrid machines that combine 3D printing and CNC machining capabilities in one.

Last year, 3D-Hybrid and Multiax International introduced a gigantic 3D printer/CNC machine hybrid that had a build area of over 500 meters cubed and was capable of 3D printing more than 20 pounds an hour. 3D-Hybrid, as its name suggests, specializes in hybrid 3D printers and CNC machines, and it is now releasing new additive manufacturing tools that can be added to CNC machines to turn them into hybrids.

The tools, according to 3D-Hybrid, lower the cost of metal additive manufacturing, increase speed, and offer new capabilities such as multi-material parts. Currently, the company is offering three tools for three different applications: Wire-Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM), Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) and Cold Spray.

“Changing the understanding of these DED technologies to tools rather than machines is critical to economical application of hybrid manufacturing,” Karl Hranka, Founder of 3D-Hybrid, told

The Wire-Arc Tool uses dip-transfer technology and proprietary methods for hybrid manufacturing. It offers the most economical approach to additive manufacturing and a more effective option for alloys that are reflective to laser wavelengths. The Laser Tool works with a wide variety of material options including wire and blending powder materials for gradient and custom alloy generation. Finally, the Cold Spray Tool is ideal for additive manufacturing of alloys with high thermal conductivity.

“Just like using different cutting tools for different metals, we suggest different printing tools for some of the more special alloys,” Hranka told us. “Take copper for example; Cold spray enables effective deposition due the use of kinetic energy to plastically deform the metal particles into a feature, rather than managing copper’s very high thermal conductivity and reflectivity properties.”

3D-Hybrid developed its manufacturing methods based on electrical, optical and kinetic energy, using its experience in polymetallic alloy additive manufacturing for aerospace and research applications.

“Our commitment to solving complex manufacturing problems with advanced AM methods has led us to revolutionize and integrate AM technologies to any CNC machine,” said Hranka.

The Wire-Arc tool starts at $50,000. You can learn more about these tools at 3D-Hybrid’s website or by contacting the company at

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below. 

[Images: 3D-Hybrid]


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