Following the completion of a 40 million USD funding round and the procurement of its largest order ever last month, metal additive manufacturing company VELO3D has announced the commercial availability of a new material that aims to open up its Sapphire 3D printer to more applications in power generation.
The company has successfully qualified Hastelloy X, a nickel-based alloy that’s said to be extremely resistant to corrosion cracking and oxidation, most often used to manufacture parts for gas turbine engines due to its high temperature strength.
“Power generation applications such as industrial gas turbines are a key focus for VELO3D so it is important that we qualify the right materials to serve that market,” states Benny Buller, founder and CEO of VELO3D. “We will continue to add more of these types of compatible materials that enable customers to print parts they couldn’t before, yet with even better material properties than those produced by traditional manufacturing.”
The material was recently tested by Sierra Turbines, an air mobility and power generation company, to 3D print a prototype unicore for its 20-kilowatt microturbine engine, which the company is aiming to manufacture 96% of using metal additive manufacturing. Sierra Turbine’s founder and CEO Roger Smith said the ability to create more heat-resistant, lower maintenance, and higher-performing gas microturbines makes VELO3D’s laser powder-bed fusion technology “the ideal manufacturing solution.”
Hastelloy X joins Titanium64, INCONEL alloy 718 and Aluminum F357, which launched in May, on VELO3D’s list of compatible metal powders.
Since its commercial launch in 2018, the company’s patented SupportFree process, which reduces the need for support structures for passageways, shallow overhangs and low angles, has been leveraged by the likes of next generation aerospace company Boom Supersonic and service provider Knust-Godwin to manufacture end-use parts with complex geometries. For the power generation industry, VELO3D’s printing process is said to allow for the creation of intricate cooling passageways and fuel delivery channels needed to achieve high-output fluid transmission and electrical power. Earlier this year, the company also announced the launch of a larger format Sapphire system which can produce parts up to one metre tall.