AMS Spring 2023

VELO3D and Lam Research are 3D Printing Metal Parts for Semiconductor Industry

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Silicon Valley metal 3D printer manufacturer VELO3D, which recently landed the largest order yet in the company’s short history for its Sapphire system, has announced a joint development agreement with Lam Research Corporation, a wafer fabrication equipment and services supplier to the semiconductor industry. Also based out of California, Lam Research is a FORTUNE 500 company, and is an important partner of the world’s leading semiconductor companies. With this new strategic agreement, Lam Research plans to majorly expand how many parts for semiconductor capital equipment are fabricated with additive manufacturing in the next five years.

“Semiconductor manufacturing is one of the best examples of high-volume production and Lam requires the highest levels of repeatability and consistency to achieve precision control at atomic scale. VELO3D is well positioned to provide confidence in metal 3D printing due to our calibration, metrology, and digital traceability capabilities,” stated VELO3D’s Founder and CEO Benny Buller in a press release. “This relationship aims to accelerate Lam’s journey of continuous innovation toward producing equipment that creates cutting-edge microprocessors, memory devices, and numerous related product types.”

A Shrouded Impeller Printed on the Velo3D, note the supports on the bottom.

According to a SmarTech Analysis report, “Market Opportunities for Additive Manufacturing in the General Industry and Tooling Sector-2020-2029“, industrial manufacturers are looking to digitize their supply chains, which means that automation and AM technology are more likely to be adopted. Additive manufacturing can reduce the use of raw materials, speed up projects, and create complex designs that conventional forms of manufacturing can’t complete; these are major benefits for metal components.

“More and more, additive manufacturing is providing some of the best value propositions for final and replacement part production in terms of end-to-end digital manufacturing workflows, production automation, digital warehousing and many other key areas within the industry 4.0 framework,” another SmarTech report states.

The VELO3D Sapphire metal 3D printer is capable of producing the fine features and complex structures found in critical semiconductor components. (Image courtesy of VELO3D)

VELO3D’s metal AM technology is unique, with its SupportFree capability enabling more design creativity and innovation; pairing this with close-loop control, in-situ metrology, Assure quality control, and Intelligent Fusion technology, the Sapphire 3D printing system is meant to enable repeatability through serial manufacturing of parts and components, such as semiconductors.

“Lam Research is leveraging additive manufacturing as a driver of the innovation that enables our customers to build smaller, faster, more powerful, and power-efficient electronic devices for everyday use. This joint development arrangement aligns well with Lam’s mission to continuously seek new technologies that push the limits of product design and manufacturing,” said Kevin Jennings, the Senior Vice President of Global Operations at Lam Research. “We are excited to lead the semiconductor industry in delivering value to our customers from AM.”

VELO3D’s joint agreement with Lam Research includes proprietary process development and collaboration of novel designs and materials in metal 3D printed semiconductor applications. Just as it recently developed a process for 3D printing foundry-grade Aluminum F357 on its Sapphire system, VELO3D will now work to create new metal alloys for the printer that will be of critical importance to Lam technologies and designs.

In addition, Lam Capital, the venture group of Lam Research that partners with startups working to disrupt their industries, will also invest an undisclosed amount of funds in VELO3D, which recently closed a $40 million Series D round of investment, bringing the total amount of funding to $150 million. This investment from Lam Capital will help VELO3D continue to increase its capabilities, and “reach profitability by mid-2022.”

(Images courtesy of Lam Research unless otherwise noted)

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