As metal AM continues to evolve and innovate, it is fast becoming a crucial tool in the toolkit of innovative engineers looking to solve particularly daunting design challenges. At the apex of this innovation is the Velo3D Sapphire® family of printers. By redefining the expectations of legacy metal AM solutions, Sapphire® printers showcase the ability to manufacture highly complex parts, with complicated geometries and low angles that were previously unattainable.
In the first article in this end-to-end series, we looked at Velo3D FlowTM software, and how it can be used to preserve design intent and encourage design freedom. Here in part two we’ll discuss the potential of metal AM when software and hardware work within the same end-to-end system, and how Sapphire® printers can help realize the design intent of challenging engineering projects through advanced laser powder-bed fusion (LPBF) printing.
A Synergy of Design and Manufacturing
Within the universe of metal AM, there has long been a preconceived notion that the parts as designed can’t be translated accurately within the printing process. While every AM system is different, this misconception largely exists because there is an inherent disconnect between the software that guides the printing process and the printers themselves.
In the past, designs needed to be translated from CAD files, and then sliced and diced by engineers—and in many cases compromised—to create files ready for print. From there, prints would go through multiple iterations as design flaws were corrected until a final part was suitable for post-processing and ultimate use.
Though we’ve previously highlighted the capabilities of Velo3D FlowTM software, the success of the software is truly defined by its synergy with Sapphire® printers. Because FlowTM design files are specifically designed to only be used on Sapphire® printers, there is a high level of assurance that the design of the part consistently translates to production, and without compromise.
This universality and repeatability enables all Sapphire® printers to manufacture any FlowTM design. So, an engineering team in California can easily print the exact same part in Germany. For companies with a global footprint, this level of consistency creates the conditions for a truly distributed supply chain without the need to rely on manufacturing specialists attempting to recreate or translate original design intents.
The Revolution of SupportFreeTM Printing
The integration of FlowTM software and Sapphire® printers enables design consistency in the print, but the innovation in the printing process itself on display with Sapphire® printers is truly game changing in the metal AM space.
The Sapphire® family of printers are the next evolution of laser powder-bed fusion metal AM printers, working with a number of high-strength qualified materials including Inconel® 718 and 625, Hastelloy® C-22, Hastelloy® X, Titanium Ti-6Al-4V Grade 23, and Grade 5 Aluminum: F357, and Scalmalloy®, with more materials constantly in the works. With these materials, Sapphire® printers are able to achieve complex geometries including low angle prints down to 0 degrees, high aspect ratio structures up to 6000:1, and large inner diameters up to 100mm, all made possible by a revolutionary SupportFreeTM printing process.
The Sapphire® family of printers are the next evolution of laser powder-bed fusion metal AM printers, working with a number of high-strength qualified materials
This proprietary printing process solves for challenges that have plagued traditional metal AM for years, enabling the printing of overhanging surfaces without the need for supporting structures. These free-floating parts, when printed using the Velo3D SupportFreeTM process, require far less post-processing to remove support structures. By cutting down on post-processing, engineering teams can cut down time from design to a finished part, and remove barriers in cost, and time, required to source specialized machinists.
By cutting down on post-processing, engineering teams can cut down time from design to a finished part, and remove barriers in cost, and time, required to source specialized machinists.
The Right Solution for Complex Challenges
While metal AM may not be the right solution for every parts production challenge, as another tool in an engineer’s toolkit, it can offer countless industries the ability to achieve manufacturing outcomes for even the most complex geometries. By merging FlowTM print preparation software and the Sapphire® family of printers, Velo3D creates a level of consistency and reliability that has long been a sticking point for those skeptical of metal AM.
By merging FlowTM print preparation software and the Sapphire® family of printers, Velo3D creates a level of consistency and reliability that has long been a sticking point for those skeptical of metal AM.
When used to its fullest potential, however, the capabilities of SupportFreeTM printing can be truly revolutionary, allowing engineers to realize even the most daunting design challenges. Because the Sapphire® family of printers also includes different volumes, it enables engineers flexibility in configurations to produce a wider array of parts based on dimension requirements.
When used to its fullest potential, however, the capabilities of SupportFreeTM printing can be truly revolutionary, allowing engineers to realize even the most daunting design challenges.
Sapphire® printers are an essential component within the Velo3D end-to-end metal AM system, but as any engineer will tell you, the process doesn’t end with a printed part. In order for industry-wide acceptance and adoption, manufacturing processes need to be validated, reliable, and repeatable. In the third and final part of this series we’ll cover Velo3D’s AssureTM system, and the importance of analysis and validation of parts and printers at every step of the build.
Interested in learning more about the Velo3D end-to-end metal AM system? Our team of experts is here to answer any questions you have. Get in touch today.