Manufacturing industry challenges are multi-fold. Demand from the aerospace, energy, industrial, automotive and medical industries is ever increasing. These diverse applications hold many of the same manufacturing pain points in common: there is a need to add next-level functionality, simplification and lightweighting; to address poor manufacturing yield/complexity; and to accelerate development speeds and predictability from months not to weeks, but to days.
For example, in aerospace and other turbomachinery, shrouded impellers are critical rotating components that induce high pressures and can see more efficiencies enabled by improved functionality, better surface finish and more accurate designs. Historically this requires a three-stage process when produced with traditional manufacturing methods. The impeller is usually machined from solid block on metal with a 5-axis tool, e-beam and weld on the shroud. The adoption of conventional additive manufacturing systems has generally been limited because of design restrictions (typically 45 degree angle overhang features without supports) and complex support structures with laborious post-processing. Thus, building this part has been challenging or often impossible.
Another use case is lightweighting, which is an important aspect for multiple industries. Lattice structures provide high strength-to-weight ratios and bring enormous benefits to buy-to-fly ratio, cost of used material, cost reduction and sustainability. Light structures like these are impossible to cast and are uniquely enabled by additive manufacturing. Traditional AM systems, however, have limitations with printing lattice angles and aspect ratios of the beams. Most AM systems cannot assure lattice consistency in the same build, which creates structural risk due to increased mechanical variability.
I recently spoke with an OEM customer working on an engine application. They were trying to meet ever more stringent requirements with conventional manufacturing methods and had spent over 20 months into the development cycle without success. In this case, the blades were not precise enough with enough dimensional accuracy to be assembled in complex subsystems and were not meeting quality requirements. With conventional additive manufacturing solutions, after more than three months of development, the complex and laborious post-processing challenges were still not solved. VELO3D solved this within days with samples printed and delivered that met key requirements for functional testing.
This tremendous experience is the result of a journey that Benny Buller started in 2014, setting out with the bold vision of creating technology that could manufacture any geometry. Our goal is creating technology that overcomes manufacturing challenges and takes additive manufacturing mainstream, altering the $500 billion metal manufacturing industry forever. From the start there was a different approach rooted in deep insights in physics fundamentals, bringing together a combination of disciplines: Process Development, Materials Science, Experimentation & Simulation, Control, Computational Geometry and System Integration. Our approach to problem solving is one of a kind in the industry, based on these deep physics insights, and enabled by a disciplined approach of research/characterization, understanding of mechanism, intelligent process control, software simulation and in-situ metrology.
The result is a different solution, designed from the ground up with high-volume manufacturing in mind. Many breakthrough innovations were necessary end-to-end in creating a new class of additive manufacturing solution that we call Intelligent Fusion®.
For challenging use cases such as these discussed the VELO3D Sapphire® system requires no internal supports to build shrouded impellers, aside from the extruding lip on the outer rim and the bottom edge. Those supports require minimal post-processing and can be removed with a single turning operation.
For lattice structures, VELO3D excels. Structures are built free-floating, leveraging the full build volume for production-quality volume builds. This assures build-to-part consistency and does not require post-processing. Development time of lightweighted designs is significantly reduced.
VELO3D Sapphire, along with our Flow print preparation software, addresses the most difficult additive manufacturing challenges by delivering a comprehensive, end-to-end manufacturing solution that takes additive manufacturing capabilities far beyond other solutions. In the quest to enable tomorrow’s innovation VELO3D envisions products that are built without constraints. They are more affordable and come to market faster.
With VELO3D Sapphire the future is here.