Superalloy to the Rescue!

by | Nov 3, 2021 | Business Drivers

3D printing with Hastelloy®X

Hastelloy® X is the material of choice for important gas-turbine, hot-section components in aerospace as well as a variety of high-temperature/high-corrosion oil and gas and energy applications. Formable and weldable, this superalloy (a mix of nickel, chromium, iron and molybdenum) provides an extremely high melting point, superior mechanical strength, low creep and long-lasting resistance to oxidation and/or corrosion.
Hear from Velo3D’s VP of Global Sales & Business Dev. Dr. Zach Murphree on Hastelloy® X

While HastX has been manufactured using conventional methods for some 70 years (Pratt & Whitney used it in the jet engines that powered the first Boeing 707 aircraft in the 1950s) it only started being 3D printed about five years ago—and some equipment manufacturers experienced problems with soot generation, cracking and other aspects related to the AM process.

But, properly handled, 3D-printed HastX provides many unrivaled benefits. And those high-temp/high-corrosion applications—which traditionally have involved assemblies of tens-to-hundreds of individual components and multiple time-consuming forming steps—are just begging for the design simplification and part consolidation offered by additive.

If you’ve been spending a lot of time bending, welding, heat treating, and machining HastX into complex components you may have reached a point where your cycle times are huge and you’re simply not advancing the performance of your products any further. Making a better product is hard when you have that many manufacturing steps. You’ve reached the limits of what you can design and the complexity you can build into your part.

So how can you get more out of HastX with AM? It starts with thinking about what more you can get out of your part design itself. Perhaps you can build your fuel delivery tubing, nozzles, and flame holders, directly into a combustion liner or combustor section, thereby incorporating much more functionality into a single component.  You can also do very interesting things with active cooling (or pre-heating) through incorporation of heat exchangers directly. Really start to rethink the architecture of your whole system!

Of course, it’s not just geometry that makes an AM component “mission-defining.” It’s also the ability to make it out of the most kick-ass alloy you can find. And when you want to push the limits in all directions, that can mean HastX.

Velo3D can make this happen for you, better than any other AM system out there. One of the interesting things about how we approach our materials portfolio is that it’s well aligned with the capabilities of our full-stack solution of pre-print preparation software, real-time quality control and assurance, and the Sapphire machine itself.

When people first came to us asking for HastX, we researched it thoroughly and saw that—whether in gas-driven propulsion, auxiliary power units, or even land-based turbines for power generation—out of all components that were being additively manufactured, the ones that were made out of HastX seemed to be really good candidates for Velo3D’s advanced process.

There are a lot of different AM machine manufacturers out there who have portfolios of as many as 40 different materials. And a lot of those are materials for which the cost of printing doesn’t really align itself well with that material, and neither does the application space. So, we decided to be extremely focused in where we know our best offerings are. We’ve simplified that to printing parts that fluids flow through, or ones that exchange heat. And because of that focus, it makes it a lot easier to identify the best-fitting materials to develop. And most of the time those are higher-performance alloys like HastX, rather than the standard additive fare. 

We’ve learned that HastX with a lower carbon content produces better results. That a super-clean, argon-gas environment that keeps oxygen levels extremely low delivers the highest-quality finished parts and that managing soot generation during the printing process is critical. Our precise laser-energy delivery and feature-specific parameter controls dramatically reduce cracking. All these factors give you the ability to make the parts you want, not the ones that other equipment manufacturers say you can have.

As a result, most of the time it’s not Velo3D driving the innovation: it’s you and your engineering team who know what your problems are and want to grab AM technology and run with it. It’s our primary goal to help engineers solve challenging engineering problems and to leverage our technology where it makes sense. If you have a component that is a high-performance, mission-critical, and it’s made out of HastX and you think there’s room for performance improvement, or difficulty with manufacturing in the current method—those are issues where we’d love to have the opportunity to prove our worth.

We’re not expecting everybody to buy a machine; you can access our technology through our growing network of contract manufacturers and service bureaus who’ve already added our systems to their shop floors and developed the expertise to bring all the Velo3D advantages to customers like you. Our goal is to find those problems, those challenges, and help engineering teams solve them. If we can’t demonstrate that value, there’s no compelling reason for you to be interested.

We hope you’re now more interested in learning about how we can help you achieve the most innovative, “impossible” solutions to your challenges with Hastelloy®X.

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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.