Velo3D FAQ Part 2: Demystifying the Velo3D End-to-End Solution

by | Mar 31, 2022 | Business Drivers

Being experts in the metal additive manufacturing (AM) industry comes with certain responsibilities; one of which is education. As advocates for this emerging technology, the team at Velo3D is heavily invested in engaging with peers in the industry and answering questions in order to demystify metal AM for those who may not be familiar with the technology.

In part one of this FAQ series we looked at Velo3D as a whole and dissected what distinguishes it from other metal AM technology, as well as answered some broader questions surrounding metal AM. In a nutshell, what makes Velo3D so unique is our end-to-end solution that combines print preparation software, Flow™, next-generation printers, our Sapphire line, and integrated quality assurance software, Assure™.

This article will focus on the end-to-end solution itself, answering many of the common questions our team of engineers fields each day on these unique facets of the Velo3D process.

Do You Offer Print Preparation Software, Or How Do I Prepare the Print?

Flow™ print preparation software is included with each purchase of a Velo3D solution. Flow™ ensures predictable print outcomes while significantly reducing print preparation time. Driven by a powerful, integrated simulation engine and co-developed with Sapphire® printers, Flow™ unlocks parts that were impossible to print using conventional AM solutions.

What Import File Formats Do You Support?

Unlike other systems that are based on mesh-based workflows and thus require mesh import, Flow™ is designed with native CAD workflows in mind. Using imported CAD files provides for a better user experience and more control in the preparation of a build. It also prevents loss of the design intent that happens when CAD models are converted to meshes. Flow™ supports the import of the majority of native CAD formats, as well as translation file formats such as .stp, .iges, or .x_t.

Can You Import Lattice Structures?

Yes, Flow™ supports the output from many different commercially available lattice generation tools in file formats such as .3mf, .ltcx, .csv.

Do You Accept Slices Generated in Other Preparation Software?

No. Leveraging our simulation capabilities requires that the file be a three-dimensional description of the part.

Are the Supports Auto-Generated or Can I Override/Design My Own?

Flow™ supports users with the ability to generate and select regions of interest and apply supports where they see fit. Regions (saved selection sets) make the application of supports and application of sub-processes easy and organized. Flow™ features beam, wall, thin wall, and tree support types that were modeled in CAD.

In Flow™, is It Possible for the User to Specify What Kind of Properties Are Wanted in Certain Areas of the Part?

Yes, Flow™ supports users with the ability to generate and select regions of interest and apply properties to those areas.

What Are the Velo3D’s Sapphire® Build Volumes?

The Sapphire® family of printers supports a range of build volumes as follows:

  • Sapphire®: ø315mm x 400mm
  • Sapphire® 1MZ: ø315mm x 1000mm
  • Sapphire® XC: ø600mm x 550mm

What Is the Sapphire® Laser Configuration?

Sapphire® laser configurations vary by machine, including:

  • Sapphire® and Sapphire® 1MZ Printer: Dual 1K Lasers
  • Sapphire® XC Printer: 8 1k Lasers

 What Are the External Dimensions of the Machines?

Total system footprints differ for the different Sapphire® machine models as follows.

  • Sapphire® and Sapphire®1MZ: 2.1m x 2.1m x 2.5m
  • Sapphire® XC: 8.53m x 3.35m x 4.25m

Do I Have to Interrupt a Build to Refill Powder?

No, both powder and filters can be changed without interrupting a build. The standard system holds enough for two builds.

What is Special About Your Recoater? What Does It Enable?

Velo3D uses a proprietary non-contact recoater designed to enable thinner walls, smaller inner diameter holes, lower angles, and higher aspect ratios.

Does the Recoater Wear During a Build?

Velo3D developed a unique non-contact recoater that does not wear or need regular replacement. However, like any other machine, we recommend regular preventive maintenance.

Can I Reuse the Overflow/Unused Powder?

Yes, by keeping oxygen levels extremely low (<10ppm), powder reuse is significantly extended over conventional metal AM systems.

What Is the Lowest Angle of a Design that Sapphire® Can Print Without Supports?

Velo3D has a unique ability to print low angles and overhangs down to zero degrees (horizontal), as well as large diameters and inner tubes up to 100mm without the need for supports. This not only significantly reduces or eliminates the need for post-processing, but it overcomes the “45-degree rule”, a conventional AM boundary requiring supports at angles less than 45 degrees. Velo3D frees designers to unlock a wealth of designs that can now be produced with additive technology.

 How Does the System Respond to a Power Failure?

 Sapphire® has an optional uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that can be purchased to enable it to ride through facility power fluctuations, and to gracefully shut down in the event of a major and sustained power outage.

 What Happens When the System Discovers an Error?

 The build is paused and the operator is notified. Remote alerts (i.e., email) are also supported.

 What Is the Maximum Inner Diameter of a Tube or Hole Size That Can Be Printed Without Supports?

 It is possible to build inner diameters ranging from as large as 100mm all the way down to 500μm with Sapphire®. If the geometry requires a larger inner diameter, the engineer can tilt the part by as little as a few degrees and expand that limit by more than two times. Similarly, once an engineer tilts the part, they can print features down to 300μm inner diameter holes.

 What is the Highest Aspect Ratio That Can Be Printed?

The Sapphire® family of printers can print very thin walls, down to around 150μm. Importantly, even at this thickness, we can print to full z-height. This gives the printer the unprecedented ability to print aspect ratios of up to 6000:1.

 What Surface Roughness is Achievable?

Depending upon the geometry, Sapphire® can print parts with surface roughness below 5μm SA.

What Kind of Post-Processing is Required After a Part is Printed?

Some post-processing may be required based on customer requirements. This may include heat treating, polishing, machining, or the removal of a couple of supports. Velo3D solutions require significantly fewer if any supports than conventional AM systems.

Are the Printers Able to Print Geometric Designs?

Yes, the Velo3D solution is fully capable of printing geometric designs.

What Monitoring and Diagnostics Do You Report?

Sapphire® auto-generates an Assure™ report for each build, giving the operator a summary of the quality of the print layer by layer and the performance of the machine throughout the process.

Does Velo3D Offer a Quality Control Solution?

Yes. We offer the Assure™ Quality Assurance and Control System to customers of Velo3D Sapphire® metal 3D printers.

What Does Assure™ Do?

Working in concert with Sapphire® and Flow™, Assure™ provides visibility into every layer of the build through real-time, multi-sensor, physics-based excursion detection algorithms.

How Does Assure™ Improve Quality for 3D Printed Parts?

Assure™ provides unprecedented traceability of machine health, part integrity, and build reporting. It helps you understand if machine health is optimal before a build begins by monitoring optics, sensors, consumables, and powder bed quality, and displays the data directly on the dashboard for all printers. Assure™ also predicts bulk material properties in real-time.

What Type of Documentation is Available for Printed Parts?

Assure™ automatically generates a detailed build report that can form the foundation of a Certificate of Compliance. This report offers full traceability of system performance and any predicted part defects during the build.

Is Assure™ Available for Printed Parts Outside of the Velo3D Solution?

No. Assure™ is designed for and only works within the full Velo3D end-to-end solution.

Is Assure™ Necessary to Run a Velo3D Sapphire® Metal 3D Printer?

Assure™ is not necessary to operate the Sapphire® printer itself. However, Assure™ is essential to the high-quality output of the end-to-end metal AM solution, traceability, reporting, and compliance.

Which Web Browsers Support Assure™?

Assure™ has been optimized for Chrome and Safari. It may not display correctly with other browsers. However, if you’re using a recent Microsoft Edge browser that is Chrome based, it will work as well. Assure™ uses JavaScript; if you have a JavaScript blocker, please disable it.

What Type of Quality Testing is Done to Validate Parts? Non-Contact 3D Scanning, Acoustic, or Destructive?

Our customers define the requirements for quality testing they need to validate their parts. Velo3D generally does not print production parts for customers. For Velo3D printed development or POC parts, we have full access to non-contact 3D scanning, destructive, and CT testing. For production parts (OEMs or CMs) these tests are performed or outsourced depending on in-house equipment.

Do You Have In-Process Inspection?

Velo3D has a sophisticated in-process inspection system including, but not limited to, using multiple sensors in the printer itself, a full topographical map of the part and powder bed on every layer using our height mapper system. We also obtain melt pool emission data from each laser which is used to identify potential process breakdowns.

Still have a question about the Velo3D end-to-end system? Contact our team of engineers today.

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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.