Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM software has been chosen for a new service from Star Prototype that combines additive and subtractive manufacturing. The new service, which Star Prototype calls AddSub Manufacturing, combines metal 3D printing and five-axis CNC machining to deliver quickly complex, low-volume components that would previously have required the input of two separate bureaux.
British-owned Star Prototype has been based in Guandong Province, China, for over ten years, where it has been breaking manufacturing ground by using a combination of new technologies, including 3D printing, alongside their traditional counterparts like CNC machining to deliver top-quality parts for a host of applications. The company developed the new service after it identified a significant demand for a one-stop-shop for such components.
“Many metal 3D printed parts are no longer used as prototypes but as complex low-volume manufactured components,” explained Gordon Styles, president of Star Prototype. “As a result, many of these parts need certain high-precision features that are virtually impossible to produce with 3D printing alone. Problems arise because most 3D printing companies don’t carry out secondary machining, meaning the customer needs to take care of the finishing work themselves or farm it out to a separate specialist machining bureau.”
With the AddSub process, Star Prototype first uses its Renishaw AM250 3D printer to produce extremely dense, high complexity metal parts that are often not possible to produce using traditional machining techniques. The Renishaw equipment uses direct metal laser melting to produce components in titanium, stainless steel or aluminium.
The resulting parts are then finish machined on a recently acquired Haas five-axis machine programmed with PowerMILL. Star Prototype sees this combination as being ideal for the production of mating faces, precision bores, tapped holes, spigots and other very necessary high-precision features. Whenever possible, the parts are built on the AM250 in the correct orientation, with machining supports designed so that the build plate can be transferred directly to the five-axis machine.
Star Prototype was founded in 2005 by British engineer, Gordon Styles, after the sale of his Styles RPD company to ARRK. After initially managing the production of parts by Chinese suppliers for UK and US companies, Star Prototype began manufacturing in its own right in 2009. Having always used Delcam software in his UK companies, Mr. Styles again chose to use PowerMILL in his Chinese machine shop.
Star Prototype now uses PowerMILL to program a range of milling machines, predominately from Haas but also from Hurco and from local Chinese suppliers. With its Delcam software, the company can machine quickly parts in either plastic or metal to a high standard of accuracy and surface finish.
“Star Prototype is world-renowned for its CNC machining capabilities, and its forward thinking approach to adopting new technology and improving the service we provide to our customers,” continued Mr. Styles. “AddSub was very much born out of a combination of our established prototyping and machining services. We are confident it will prove of enormous benefit to businesses across the globe, particularly to companies in the motorsport, aerospace, military, medical and dental fields.”