Metal AM company VELO3D has developed a process for 3D printing parts made from aluminum F357 using its Sapphire system. The now commercially available process creates numerous opportunities for the foundry-grade aluminum alloy, especially for thin-walled heat transfer applications in the aerospace and defense industries.
Traditionally, aluminum F357 has been manufactured using casting processes. And though other aluminum alloys, such as AlSi10Mg, have been adapted for laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) processes, aluminum F357 is a valuable addition to VELO3D’s materials portfolio, because of its ability to be anodized and its similarities to popular casting alloy A356.
“Aluminum F357 has already been certified for mission-critical applications—unlike some exotic alloys—so it was a logical addition to our materials portfolio,” said Benny Buller, Founder and CEO of VELO3D. “We will continue to add more compatible materials that enable customers to print parts they couldn’t before, yet with even better material properties than traditional manufacturing.
The additive manufacturing process for aluminum F357 using the Sapphire system was developed in collaboration with PWR, a supplier of advanced cooling solutions that works with clients like NASCAR and Formula 1, among others in the automotive, military and aerospace sectors.
“We chose aluminum F357 due to its ideal material properties to suit thermal performance, machining and weldability,” states Matthew Bryson, General Manager for PWR. “Our ability to print free-form and lightweight structures for heat transfer applications with our Sapphire system from VELO3D will further enhance performance and packaging optimization opportunities for our product range and provide significant value to our customers.”
VELO3D’s Sapphire 3D printing system, in combination with its Flow software, enables a support-free additive manufacturing process. This, in turn, unlocks greater geometric freedom, including complex internal passageways, steep overhands and low angles. Thanks to the non-contact recoater process, the technology is also capable of producing ultra-thin wall structures and high aspect ratios, which are required for many flight-critical applications. With the addition of aluminum F357 to its qualified materials portfolio, VELO3D’s metal AM system is now compatible with three metals, including titanium 64 and INCONEL alloy 718.
Recently, VELO3D announced it had successfully raised $28 million in a Series D financing round, and unveiled an upcoming one-meter-tall 3D printing system, which will become available in Q4 2020. The new system will enable the production of tall metal parts without support structures.