How additive and traditional manufacturing support the industrial development

The 4Dhybrid project is focusing on three main industries: aeronautics, oil & gas and power generation. Manufacturing and repairing complex metal parts implies major challenges across their lifecycles from the green field intensive manufacturing to the numerous maintenance and repairing operations worldwide distributed.

The project exploits the synergic combination of additive and subtractive processes conceived not only as a simple succession of steps but as an hybridization of the processes.

 “Plug and produce” modular approach is a therefore a key factor to success for such hybridization.

Three DEMO parts are considered in this project.

In particular:

1) GE Aviation demo part – Turbine case;

2) Siemens demo part – Gas Turbine component;

3) Globotics/SUPSI demo part – Cylindrical storage.

All the three demo parts are currently manufactured by casting, machining, automatic/manual finishing process and needs to be stocked to make spare parts available despite of their very long lead time. At the basis of the RTD activities developed so far, there is the definition of the use cases and main requirements to be respected, in particular:


GE use case is related to aeronautics and space applications from medium to large. The part has been considered also to perform repairing with the 4DHybrid solution. Components’ materials will be mostly based on Titanium and Aluminum alloys.

In details:

(Green field manufacturing of jet engine cases – Source: GE)


Siemens has provided a case that involves maintenance and repair of gas turbine blades, as used in electric power generators installed in power generation plants. Parts are usually medium to large scale, subjected to high heat loads.

Materials involve Ni-based alloys (IN718, cupronickel) but may also involve carbon steels.

Gas turbine blades repairing ( Source: Siemens)


The case study is represented by the huge cylindrical storage tanks used in the oil&gas industry. SUPSI, the University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland and GLOBOTICS, active in the field of oil & gas industry. Are focusing on the maintenance and repair of oil & gas-related structures, as follows:

Huge cylindrical storage tanks repairing (Source:Globotics)


Background: the Innovative characteristics of 4Dhybrid

The 4Dhybrid project has been funded under the European Commission Horizon 2020 – Call 723795 and involves 20 Partners from 10 different countries. The project is coordinated by Prima Industrie and the consortium involves 12 industrial players, operating as technology suppliers and end users. SUPSI is responsible for the research and technical coordination of 4DHybrid.

The 4DHybrid main objective is to develop a new concept of hybrid additive manufacturing, supporting the Maintenance Repairing Operation (MRO) value chain with particular focus on medium to large size high added value components.

In detail, this entails the development of compact and low-cost modules including laser source, deposition head, sensors and control that can be integrated on robots and machines; such modules embed various technologies to enable additive and subtractive technologies – such as Direct Energy Deposition (DED) and Ablation or Cold Spray (CS) – in addition to technologies for monitoring and inspection.

The 4DHybrid equipment portfolio is conceived for running both in a standard production facility and in off-shore harsh environment. This makes the project results suitable for aerospace, oil &gas and power generation industries. The modularity concept together with the adoption of complex sensor-based monitoring systems will enrich the current state-of-the-art hybrid solutions with promising prototypes (Technology Readiness Level – TRL7), aiming to provide new possibilities for production and repairing sectors where a multitude of technologies and equipment will be flexibly adopted.

The project exploitation strategy: Out of the lab. Into the market

The project exploitation strategy relies upon major industrial stakeholders of the project consortium that are very active in the MRO industry. For example – Prima Industrie will include in the company product portfolio the deposition modules for DED and Comau will launch a new generation of robots for additive manufacturing and milling operations. With SUPSI, ARM Lab – thanks to a rich industrial network of partners – deeply operates in supporting National and European industries to enable the adoption of cutting-edge solutions. 4D Hybrid modules can be integrated in any sort of manufacturing equipment, thus avoiding major overhaul at industrial level. With this regard, a key sensitive aspect for us is to deploy solutions that are frictionless for end-users and demand for a very limited ramp-up time. This should ensure a faster and efficient absorption of project results. Also, 4D Hybrid demonstrators are currently running in ARM physical laboratories to support side activities, such as industrial mandates and equipment commissioning to industrial customers; this boost our comprehension of advantages and drawbacks during the modules’ integration in the overall production infrastructure and industrial value chain. The idea is always to target the realization of reliable and industrially robust solutions