Californian metal 3D printer manufacturer VELO3D has announced the launch of its new next-generation Sapphire metal additive manufacturing system.
Developed with a focus on build-chamber size, a key feature of the new 3D printer is its vertical axis of 1 meter, which VELO3D claims makes it the world’s tallest metal laser-powder additive manufacturing system with a closed chamber. The next-generation Sapphire machine is designed to work with specialty metals used in aerospace, oil & gas and other precision industries.
The system will ship in Q4 2020, with precision-tool and component manufacturer Knust-Godwin lined up as VELO3D’s first major customer. The company will use the new 3D printer to produce parts for an oil and gas application.
“Our vision at VELO3D is to enable end users to build whatever they want without the constraints of yesterday’s standards,” states Benny Buller, Founder and CEO of VELO3D.
“One of those constraints is the build envelope. A meter-tall system enables industrial applications that couldn’t be built before, especially for oilfield service tools and flight hardware.”
“Best of all, it will still utilize our highly patented SupportFree process, in-situ calibration, and process control for quality assurance,” adds Buller.
VELO3D’s Sapphire 3D printers
Founded in 2014, VELO3D is a developer of laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) additive manufacturing systems and Flow print preparation software. The company’s previous Sapphire LPBF 3D printer was released in 2018. It enables engineers to produce parts with overhangs lower than 10°, and large inner diameters without supports.
The system has attracted a number of customers from the aerospace sector since its commercial launch, including a recent order of seven Sapphire 3D printers from an unknown aerospace manufacturer. Additionally, VELO3D recently partnered with Honeywell Aerospace to qualify the Sapphire 3D printer for use in the production of components for aerospace applications. As well as aerospace, the Sapphire 3D printer is also being leveraged by Australian automotive company PWR, to develop new cooling technology for motorsport.
The previous Sapphire system was designed with high volume manufacturing in mind, featuring a 315mm diameter by 400mm height build envelope. However, the build volume of VELO3D’s new Sapphire system measures at 315mm diameter by 1 meter height, increasing the size of the vertical axis by 600mm. Additional technical features of the system include dual 1kW lasers, in-situ optical calibration, and many characteristics of the previous Sapphire system, including SupportFree metal 3D printing. Available in late 2020, the machine will be compatible with nickel-based alloys.
VELO3D in the oil and gas industries
Based in Texas, Knust-Godwin is a provider of precision production machining services, specializing in CNC turning and CNC milling with experience in the oil and gas, geophysical/seismic, semiconductor, and medical industries.
As the first company to secure an order for the next-generation Sapphire system, Knust-Godwin will use it to consolidate its traditional manufacturing processes, while also improving part quality and part performance. Specifically, it will leverage the meter-tall Sapphire printer to help produce a part for oilfield drilling that is currently manufactured by more than five subtractive processes.
Earlier in 2020, VELO3D also announced plans to work with Duncan Machine Products, a supplier to oil and gas industries that will also use the company’s 3D printing technology to improve part performance and reduce lead times.
“There tends to be a trade-off between large-format additive machines and part quality; VELO3D is attractive to us because of their semiconductor heritage and engineering disciplines around process control and metrology,” states Mike Corliss, VP of Technology at Knust-Godwin. “We have confidence that we’ll be able to build mission-critical industrial parts without compromises made to part quality.”
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Featured image shows the new VELO3D Sapphire build volume. Photo via VELO3D.