VELO3D, a specialist in support-free metal 3D printing, has announced a new partnership with Colorado-based aircraft manufacturer Boom Supersonic. Together, the companies will leverage VELO3D’s Intelligent Fusion additive manufacturing technology to produce metal components for the XB-1, Boom Supersonic’s Mach-2.2 supersonic demonstrator aircraft.
Boom Supersonic is currently developing the world’s fastest supersonic airliner, a journey which has required the company to think outside the box in terms of manufacturing. As part of this, 3D printing has come to play an important role in the XB-1’s construction. For instance, Stratasys’ F900 3D printer is being used by the Colorado-based company to produce hundreds of parts for the demonstrator aircraft and now, VELO3D will provide its metal AM technology to produce the first metal parts for the supersonic jet.
Boom Supersonic’s XB-1 aircraft is the first independently developed supersonic jet designed to travel at Mach 2.2 (1,687 miles per hour). The sophisticated aircraft is made up of over 3,700 parts, produced using additive manufacturing, advanced carbon fiber composites and other advanced manufacturing approaches. The aircraft is particularly notable for its refined delta wing planform and its variable-geometry propulsion system.
VELO3D’s metal AM technology caught the eye of Boom Supersonic for a number of reasons: its reliability and control, design freedom and quality assurance. These technological features, along with VELO3D’s market knowledge and customer support, made VELO3D a prime candidate for partnering with Boom Supersonic, whose XB-1 has demanding functional, performance and precision requirements.
Even compared to other metal AM processes, VELO3D’s technology proved to have higher control and design freedom, overcoming existing challenges associated with design restrictiveness and inconsistent builds.
“High-speed air travel relies on technology that is proven to be safe, reliable, and efficient, and by partnering with VELO3D we’re aligning ourselves with a leader in additive manufacturing that will print the flight hardware for XB-1,” commented Mike Jagemann, Head of XB-1 Production at Boom Supersonic. “VELO3D helped us understand the capabilities and limitations of metal additive manufacturing and the positive impact it would potentially have on our supersonic aircraft. We look forward to sharing details about the aircraft development and improved system performance once XB-1 takes flight.”
Though the partnership has only just been made public, Boom Supersonic and VELO3D have already made progress in their work, conducting validation trials which had accurate and positive results. VELO3D is currently developing two titanium flight hardware parts for XB-1, which are expected to be installed aboard a prototype aircraft in early 2020. These two parts will be part of the ECS system and will help to ensure the aircraft can achieve safe flight in all conditions.
“Boom is reimagining the entire commercial aircraft experience, from the design, build, and materials used,” said Benny Buller, CEO of VELO3D. “Our technology is designed to help innovators like Boom rethink what’s possible, empower advanced designs with little or no post-processing, and enable an entirely new approach to production. Boom needed more than just prototypes and we’re thrilled to help them create the first 3D printed metal parts for an aircraft that will move faster than the speed of sound.”
VELO3D first introduced its commercialized Intelligent Fusion technology in September 2018 with the release of the Sapphire 3D printer. Since then, the aerospace sector has proven to be a leading market for the company’s technology. For instance, there is already one OEM using the process to produce 3D printed parts for rockets, and another plans to be operating five Sapphire machines by the end of 2019.