Metal AM in Motion: How Velo3D is Redefining Static Mixers

by | Mar 14, 2022 | Business Drivers

The Velo3D end-to-end additive manufacturing (AM) solution is transforming how industries from energy to aerospace produce core parts without compromise. In fact, many of these success stories revolve around unlocking both design and manufacturing constraints related to specific core parts. This article will look at how Velo3D’s end-to-end metal AM solution has redefined one core part in particular, static mixers, and what that innovation looks like in practice.

What are static mixers?

Static mixers have several applications throughout industries ranging from chemical processing to oil and gas. Their function is essentially in the name: they’re static components that mix liquids, gasses, or a combination of the two as they pass through a housing using internal channels and geometric features. To properly mix the different substances, the internal geometries of the mixers need to be precise.

What makes static mixers hard to manufacture?

Static mixers introduce engineering challenges in both design and production. On the design side, internal geometries need to be precise to guarantee the correct flow patterns for optimal mixing. Before a part can be deemed ready for manufacturing, oftentimes teams will use advanced modeling software to ensure that the proposed channel design meets the desired outcomes.

Once a design has been approved, more traditional manufacturing techniques can require months of lead time to produce a finished part. Because static mixers are comprised of different elements, including housings and internal channel components, each part needs to be fabricated separately and then brazed or welded together. This process can take months and presents unique challenges to machinists looking to ensure high quality channels and seals.

While static mixers are a perfect candidate for metal additive manufacturing, the use of the technology has been avoided because of the limitations associated with conventional AM technologies.

To achieve the desired internal geometries, many conventional metal AM systems require extensive support structures in the build phase. Removal of these supports in post-processing can be costly, time-consuming, or just plain impossible.

How Advanced Metal AM is Transforming Static Mixers

The required synergy of design, modeling, and manufacturing static mixers demands a cutting-edge solution. Velo3D’s advanced metal AM solution is the ideal choice to extract the greatest potential from these devices.

To achieve the most optimal design, engineering teams often use modeling programs to get a clear idea of the resulting flow patterns.

Solutions like those provided by our technical partner Ansys create a clear picture of potential part performance. With this understanding, designers adjust their geometries to achieve peak results.

However, these shapes and features, derived from advanced modeling, are often difficult to manufacture with existing solutions. In addition, to move to conventional metal AM technologies often implies months of parameter development to get the part to print correctly (if at all).

Velo3D’s Flow™ pre-print software enables engineers to lay out the exact 3D printing parameters needed to build these complex internal channels instantly.

Flow™ includes a library of dozens of proven parameter sets optimized for today’s most aggressive features. With access to this library, engineers can import their design directly from CAD, analyze the layout, develop a support strategy, and prepare the part for print seamlessly.

By leveraging Velo3D’s advanced metal AM solution, engineers can avoid the compromises typically associated with conventional metal AM systems to produce or print their innovations.

Velo3D Sapphire® printers are integrated with Flow™ software, so the complex geometries conceived in design (CAD) are translated seamlessly in production.

Because Sapphire® printers can print a wider range of geometries without the need for supports, the need to redesign, a typical occurrence for conventional metal AM, is all but eliminated.

By working with a true end-to-end solution, such as Velo3D’s, engineers can collapse months of design and manufacturing down to a matter of weeks without compromising the complexity, quality, or efficiency of their end part.

The Velo3D system also features an in-situ metrology suite comprised of 1,000 different sensors and a quality assurance and validation software known as Assure™. By analyzing approximately, a terabyte of data generated during the print, Assure validates every layer of the print to ensure that the process achieves optimal results.

Assure™ then condenses the data into a simple to read report presenting the key facts required by operators to ensure confidence in the part. In the end, teams are left with detailed build reports as proof of a successful print.

The entire Velo3D end-to-end solution results in a reliable, repeatable way of producing static mixers that achieves the complexity required for the end application.

Once a part has been printed successfully, teams then own what we call a “Golden Print file”, meaning that singular, validated print file can then be used to print parts on any Sapphire printer, anywhere in the world, on demand.

While the changes to static mixers represents an individual success story, the organizational and supply chain ramifications of Velo3D’s repeatable process are truly transformational.

Are you interested in learning more about Velo3D’s advanced metal AM solution? Get in touch with one of our experts today to see how we’re revolutionizing manufacturing.

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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.