The extra-capacity build plate of the Sapphire XC metal 3D printer allows for larger parts, increased throughput and lower per-part costs.

Scaled-Up 3DP for Larger Aerospace Parts

Dec. 28, 2021
Velo3D developed the powder-bed 3DP system with a 400% larger build volume, using the same set-up and control programs and production process as the original system.

Velo3D Inc. reported it shipped the first scaled-up version of its metal additive-manufacturing system to a producer of critical aerospace parts: The Sapphire® XC (“Extra Capacity”) is its largest metal 3D-printer that uses the same print preparation and quality control softwares, and the same manufacturing process.

The Sapphire printing technology is a laser-based powder-bed fusion process.

The system developer reported it has firm bookings from manufacturers for 17 Sapphire® XC systems, plus 19 more reservations. Velo3D explained the demand is based on the lower production costs for customers who have adopted Sapphire 3D printing technology and its ability to produce much larger parts. The improvements include a larger build volume (600 mm in diameter and 550 mm high, which is  400% larger volume than the original Sapphire® system); eight 1-kW lasers to selectively weld powdered metal layer-by-layer, compared to two 1-kW lasers for the original design); and a faster non-contact recoater, a proprietary Velo3D process that is “protrusion-tolerant” and twice as fast as the original version’s capability.

The new Sapphire® XC is able to print a wide variety of materials often used to produce mission-critical parts for aviation, aerospace, defense, oil-and-gas, and energy sectors. The available metals include Inconel 718 & 625, Hastelloy® X, Hastelloy® C22, aluminum, Scalmalloy©, and titanium Ti-6Al-4V.

Velo3D claims it continually evaluates and qualifies new materials for use in its processes.

Sapphire® XC is designed for a seamless transition for parts developed and qualified on earlier, smaller version of the Sapphire 3D-printing process, but reducing the cost to produce those parts by up to 75%.

The new system also expands the use of Velo3D’s production technology to parts that are up to 400% larger in volume than the largest parts possible with the original technology.

The unnamed aerospace manufacturer that received the new printer will use it to scale up production of a product that currently is built using a “fleet of Sapphire 3D printers.

According to Velo3D CEO and foundr Benny Buller: “Because our customer is already utilizing our end-to-end production solution, they can immediately and seamlessly move parts to Sapphire XC to achieve a phenomenal production rate increase.”

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