3Din30 Episode 2: Making the Switch to Additive Manufacturing

by | May 17, 2021 | Interviews

In order to keep you up to date with the latest innovations and insights happening at Velo3D, we launched 3Din30, a LinkedIn Live series designed to tackle high-level AM topics and answer questions directly from you. In the first installment, we presented an introduction to Laser Powder Bed Fusion, the main technology that drives AM at Velo3D.

For the series’ second installment, we dove a little deeper into the practical applications of metal AM with the topic “The Switch to Additive Manufacturing.” For the episode, Senior Director of Marketing Michael Rogerson was joined by two Velo3D experts, Zach Walton, Director of Energy and Turbine Machining as well as Gene Miller, Senior Applications Engineer.

According to Rogerson, the discussion was designed to cover, “What engineers should know when making the move from casting, machining, brazing, [or] whatever you’re using—even other conventional additive—in making the move to Velo3D’s metal AM solution.”

You can watch the conversation in its entirety here. And remember to follow Velo3D on LinkedIn for future installments of 3Din30.

Addressing the Differences in Switching to Metal AM

Seeing as both Walton and Miller come from varied backgrounds in manufacturing, each has a unique perspective when it comes to the distinct capabilities and points of contrast with the innovative approach Velo3D takes towards metal AM.

With traditional forms of manufacturing like casting, there are certain challenges and limitations within the process when it comes to tolerance and surface finishing, and a large part of the process is understanding these limitations and working to overcome them, Walton explains. In making the switch to metal AM, the process itself removes a number of barriers which creates new opportunities in the parts engineers are able to design and produce.

“When you start going into additive, one of the big differences is being able to do things you’ve never done before,” Walton says.

With the elimination of legacy manufacturing restrictions comes the design freedom to build parts that were previously impossible.

“Challenges that are inherent to the antiquated manufacturing processes aren’t applicable to a metal additive manufacturing regime,” Miller says. “You don’t have to worry about cold shuts, you can print much thinner sections without worrying about the resolution of your mold. That doesn’t [mean] there are no challenges with metal AM, they’re just different. It really opens up the door for manufacturability of unique geometries where designers are pushing the boundaries of what we can manufacture and opening up new application space for parts that can now be made that aren’t beholden to the limitations of legacy manufacturing methods.”

How Metal AM Creates a Noticeable Difference Through Post-Processing

For some parts, the act of casting or printing is just the beginning. If required, both technologies will undergo additional machining steps to achieve the target specifications. But the geometries achievable through these approaches can vary widely. 

“We can print internal features without any type of accessibility needs to post-process those internal features,” Miller says. “It really opens up the ballpark for a new type of part that can be manufactured without being post-processed or machined.”

The post-processing that goes into Velo3D metal AM is a major differentiator from legacy manufacturing, yet it also serves to exemplify how not-so-different the process actually is. In casting, for example, there is an as-cast model that will require a degree of processing to become a finished part. With metal AM, there is an as-printed model that may contain stock or supports that require post-processing to achieve target tolerances and surface finishes. The differentiation lies in the achievable geometries for those as-printed designs. With VELO3D’s AM solution, engineers are able to push into new avenues of performance by pushing beyond what is manufacturable with machining or casting solutions.

Working with Velo3D to Build the Impossible

Metal additive manufacturing unlocks new worlds of possibility when it comes to the types of parts, and the geometries of parts, that can be manufactured. Making the switch from traditional forms of manufacturing, or supplementing current production operations with metal AM, can revolutionize entire industries “from space, to under the earth,” as Walton put it.

Though the metal AM process can confront its fair share of roadblocks, the Velo3D team is always looking to work with clients to develop new ways to meet these challenges through alterations within the design or the printing process.

“When you talk to an applications engineer at Velo3D, we’re not going to blow smoke; we’re not going to say, ‘Sure. We can totally do that,’ when we can’t,” Miller says. “We’re going to be upfront with you. We are going to tell you what the expectation is. We’re very transparent with that.”

And in some cases, the answer may be less clear. In just twelve short months, the capabilities of the VELO3D solution have evolved greatly. Through work with customers, we have pushed beyond even what we could do just a short year ago. Can we print it? The real answer is, “It depends.” There is no way to know without talking to us.

If you’re interested in making the transition to metal AM with Velo3D, get in touch with one of our experts today to discuss how additive manufacturing can transform your operation.

What Other Topics Were Discussed?

  • How Velo3D applies a revolutionary quality assurance process
  • Velo3D utilizes thousands of sensors within process monitoring
  • What tolerance Velo3D is capable of holding from build to build and machine to machine
  • The thickness of the Velo3D metal pool layer
  • More about the Velo3D surface finish process

Remember to watch the whole discussion here.

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About the Author

Amir Iliaifar

Sr. Content Marketing Manager

Amir Iliaifar is the Sr. Content Marketing Manager at Velo3D where he oversees the production and distribution of Velo3D’s global digital content marketing initiatives. Prior to joining the company, Amir worked for a leading professional drone manufacturer, several SaaS companies, and as an automotive tech journalist. He holds a Master of Arts in Digital Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.