Additive Manufacturing Strategies

VELO3D Enables 3D Printing Nickel Superalloy at Vertex Manufacturing

ST Medical Devices

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Cincinnati-based Vertex Manufacturing is now the first contract manufacturer to offer 3D printing of the superalloy Hastelloy-X using a VELO3D system. After purchasing a dedicated machine for Inconel 718 in June, the firm made up of industry pioneers is now ready to deliver high-value additively manufactured (AM) parts for aerospace, oil and gas, and the energy industries.

Vertex was founded by a team of experts who originally established Morris Technologies, a firm acquired by GE to power its aerospace 3D printing program. After GE Additive got up and running, Greg Morris and other colleagues formed Vertex to apply their decades of experience in materials, AM, and advanced manufacturing to customers looking for development and production partners. As a part of these services, the firm offers 3D printing, multi-axis CNC machining, rapid casting, and final inspection.

A power generator steam turbine made with Inconel 718. Hastelloy X is a branded form of Inconel 718 that is 47.5% nickel, 22% chromium and 18.5% iron, with small amounts of cobalt, molybdenum and tungsten. It has high strength and high temperatures and great corrosion resistance. Image courtesy of Newcore Global.

Hastelloy-X is a non-heat-hardened metal, meaning that it doesn’t become brittle when operating in high temperatures, while its high resistance to oxidation allows it to remain durable across a long lifetime. With the Sapphire Hastelloy-X, the company is able to manufacture parts for uses not possible with many other machines, according to Vertex vice president Tim Warden:

“We chose VELO3D because we view this system as being a great fit for a number of applications that we couldn’t build today with our current additive machines. While our Inconel 718 Sapphire machine will fit the needs of many industries, there’s more of a niche market for the incoming Hast-X machine that will allow our customers with specialized needs for high-temperature, high-pressure, long-lifetime applications in the aerospace, and industrial gas turbine markets,” Warden said. “3D-printed Hast-X provides unique, robust, material qualities. Combining this with the fact that Vertex is AS9100 certified it will allow us to help our customers take programs from development to production much quicker.”

“We have a true meeting of the minds with Vertex about the potential for AM to boost innovation and transform manufacturing in so many exciting ways,” said Benny Buller, founder and CEO of VELO3D. “Accessing end-to-end advanced 3D printing through a contract manufacturer is a valuable option for OEMs of every size looking to optimize supply chain efficiency.”

Vertex Manufacturing’s Tim Warden (L) and Steve Rengers (R) with their Sapphire Inconel 718 additive manufacturing solution from VELO3D; they’ve just purchased a second one from VELO3D dedicated to Hastelloy-X. Image courtesy of VELO3D.

VELO3D is, of course, known, for its highly controlled form of laser powder bed fusion (LPBF), which makes it possible to 3D print difficult geometries without support structures, as well as simulation software that allows for predictable metal AM that reduces the need for expensive trial-and-error prints. For this reason, Vertex plans to continue working with VELO3D and acquire more equipment in the future. This will then be applied to cutting edge applications.

“We’re going to continue to see product development cycles shorten as AM has a significant impact on reducing manufacturing times,” said Steve Rengers, president of Vertex. “This will be in defense-critical areas such as hypersonics as well as more traditional aerospace and aviation. We’re also seeing a lot of movement happening in areas such as alternative energy, remote-energy, and the extension of human lifestyle quality through orthopedic implants—and we are building our business supporting those needs with the best technology available.”

Given the background of the Vertex team, it will be exciting to see what they use this technology for and where the company heads overall. VELO3D is already generating a great deal of excitement in the industry, as the firm announced in March that would be performing a SPAC merger with JAWS Spitfire.

We’ll be learning more about VELO3D and the market from CEO Benny Buller September 9, 2021 at the SmarTech – Stifel AM Investment Strategies 2021 summit. The half-day online event focused on 3D printing market activity is free to attend. Register at the summit website here.

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