A more recent development in manufacturing is the concept of hybrid machining systems. Two or more machining processes are combined into one system to take advantage of the capabilities of each process, increasing production speed, and thus improving the efficiency of the operation. The system can handle a variety of materials, including metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites.
Examples of such systems include combinations and integration of the following processes:
- Abrasive machining and electrochemical machining
- Abrasive machining and electrical discharge machining
- Abrasive machining and electrochemical finishing
- Water-jet cutting and Wire EDM
- High-speed milling, laser ablation, and blasting, as an example of three integrated processes.
- Machining and blasting
- Electrochemical and electrical discharge machining (ECDM), also called electrochemical spark machining (ECSM).
- Machining and forming processes, such as laser cutting and punching of sheet metal,
- Combinations of various forming, machining, and joining processes.
The implementation of these concepts and the development of machinery and control systems present significant challenges. Essential considerations include factors such as
- the workpiece material and its manufacturing characteristics; see, for example, in the General Introduction,
- compatibility of processing parameters, such as speeds, sizes, forces, energies, and temperature, among the two or more processes to be integrated,
- cycle times of each operation involved,
- possible adverse effects of the presence of various elements such as abrasives, chemicals, wear particles, chips, and contaminants on the overall operation, and
- the consequence of a failure in one of the stages in the system, since the operation involves sequential processes.