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The Velo3D End-to-End Metal AM Solution Part 3: Ensuring Quality Every Step of the Way

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One of the major barriers to large-scale adoption of metal additive manufacturing, particularly for volume production, is a lack of validation. Because metal AM isn’t as widely understood as more traditional methods of manufacturing like brazing and casting, it can almost feel like magic. Engineers start off with an idea for a part, it gets translated through print preparation software, and then in the end they’re left with a printed part without the confidence that the hands of skilled machinists can inspire.

Where legacy or traditional metal AM systems have failed to instill the greatest confidence is with a lack of cohesion and transparency within the manufacturing process.

Because print preparation, metal AM printing processes, and external parts validation are on disparate systems, without rigorous post-print testing and validation, it’s difficult to envision large-scale adoption of metal AM as a viable alternative to traditional manufacturing methods.

Where Velo3D sets itself apart as an end-to-end solution is placing every aspect of design, production, and validation into one underlying manufacturing system we call Intelligent Fusion.

In the first part of this series, we discussed how a simplified print preparation and design process can enable engineers to easily translate their design intent using FlowTM software. In part two, we discussed printing without compromise on the Sapphire® family of printers, and how the synergy of software and hardware creates the conditions for a truly distributed, parts-on-demand global supply chain.

In this, the third and final part of this series, we’re going to discuss the Velo3D AssureTM quality assurance system, and how a truly end-to-end metal AM system can revolutionize parts production and validation with a repeatability that gives engineers the confidence in the process for large-scale adoption.

The Importance of Complete Visibility

When producing parts through brazing, casting, or other traditional manufacturing methods, there is a built-in level of control because there is a human hand involved in every stage of production of that part. Even conventional versions of metal AM lack the necessary process controls to ensure the quality of the printed part reflects the intent of the design.

The challenge of advanced metal AM systems is to build confidence to rival human involvement in production; and the way metal AM can achieve that confidence is through visibility and control.

By having a complete understanding of the ins and outs of the print process and the part as printed, with all of the printing process backed up with analytical data, engineers can fully grasp each aspect of the metal AM process on the level they would traditionally machining.

With Velo3D, the integration of the AssureTM system into the printing process offers a level of transparency into both the printer and the part, layer by layer, to ensure confidence in the process.

The AssureTM system works in four stages throughout the printing process:

  • Pre-build System Calibration: The AssureTM system helps teams understand if machine health is optimal before a build begins by monitoring optics, sensors, consumables, and powder bed quality, and displays the data directly on the dashboard for all printers.
    • Real-time Monitoring and Alerts: The AssureTM system then enables engineers to track the quality and progress of Sapphire® machines real-time via secure, on-site servers.
    • In-Situ Defect Detection: The AssureTM system substantiates part quality needed for volume production by predicting bulk material properties, in real-time, for each part.
    • Detailed Build Reports: The AssureTM system automatically generates a build report that can form the foundation of a Certificate of Compliance. This report offers full traceability of system performance and any predicted part defects during the build.

By closely monitoring printer and part health before, during, and after manufacturing, the AssureTM system provides unprecedented levels of insight into the printing process.

By closely monitoring printer and part health before, during, and after manufacturing, the AssureTM system provides unprecedented levels of insight into the printing process.

A Repeatable Process for Quality and Consistency

When the metal AM process is controlled from end-to-end by one integrated system, it helps ensure consistency and repeatability.

In the previous installment of this series, we discussed how the Velo3D integration of pre-print software and printers enables the creation of a distributed supply chain where parts designed in FlowTM can be printed on any Sapphire®, anywhere in the world.

The integration of AssureTM quality assurance software within the end-to-end process also works to ensure repeatability, because the variables of printing are kept consistent across all machines.

We tend to talk about the metal AM process through the lens of its success, but this level of consistency is also vital to solve for failures in the process. Through the integration of quality assurance, if a variable is wrong during the print, it can be easily identified and corrected. By having in-depth, real-time, multi-sensor, physics-based excursion detection algorithms constantly monitoring the printing process, any error can be uncovered, and the process can be adjusted to fix it.

The Velo3D End-to-End Revolution in Metal AM

At Velo3D, our revolutionary approach to metal AM gives engineers control over every phase of the process on a singular, integrated system that blends best-in-class print preparation software, laser powder-bed fusion printing, and next-generation real-time quality assurance software.

At Velo3D, our revolutionary approach to metal AM gives engineers control over every phase of the process on a singular, integrated system that blends best-in-class print preparation software, laser powder-bed fusion printing, and next-generation real-time quality assurance software.

As outlined in this series, we’ve simplified complications that had made legacy AM systems inefficient and non-repeatable, creating conditions for a more agile, less costly supply chain that is revolutionizing critical parts production.

With the Velo3D end-to-end solution, we’re able to ensure repeatability, consistency, and give teams the ability to take control of their entire parts production process, even at volume. While the AssureTM system may just be one facet in the end-to-end system, the validation and quality assurance—backed by deep data analysis—that it provides can be the industry-defining innovation that makes Velo3D advanced metal AM the manufacturing choice of the future.

Are you interested in learning more about the Velo3D end-to-end metal AM system? Get in touch with our team of experts today to get all of your questions answered.

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