AMS Spring 2023

First 8-Laser Metal 3D Printer from Velo3D Arrives at Knust-Goldwin


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Knust-Godwin (K-G), a contract manufacturer with ties to the aerospace, defense, semi-conductor, and oil and gas industries, is set to receive Velo3D’s most advanced metal powder bed fusion (PBF) 3D printer, the Sapphire XC. This addition will allow Knust-Godwin to increase its metal additive manufacturing capacities, cut production costs, and continue delivering high-quality products.

When contract manufacturers work with large companies like Lockheed Martin, Halliburton, or Honeywell, they know time is of the essence. Any delay in manufacturing can affect the company’s bottom line and, thus, theirs own. They must stay up to date with the fastest and most reliable manufacturing processes. Otherwise, those clients will quickly take their business elsewhere.

A Knust-Godwin Employee using a Sapphire metal 3D printer (Source: Velo3D)

Knust-Godwin is no stranger to this pressure. Having spent over 50 years in manufacturing, it knows the importance of continuously updating its facilities with state-of-the-art equipment.

For the past few years, that state-of-the-art equipment has been Velo3D’s Sapphire 3D printers. Capable of printing parts with minimal support structures, this metal powder bed fusion 3D printer offers a range of unique capabilities, including in-process quality control and part simulation software. The printers have helped K-G exponentially expand its additive manufacturing potential and provide its customers with exceptional service. Naturally, the firm jumped at the opportunity to add Velo3D’s newest 3D printer, the Sapphire XC, to its line of printers.

The Sapphire XC itself has a cylindrical build volume of 0.16 m3 with a diameter of 600 mm and a height of 550 mm. The printer also features eight 1kW lasers, making it Velo3D’s contribution to the ongoing laser wars in metal PBF, which seek to increase the throughput of metal 3D printers through sheer laser quantity. Additionally, the system includes Velo3D’s proprietary protrusion-tolerant, non-contact recoater and its front-end and back-end software, Flow and Assure.

The Sapphire XC 3D printer from Velo3D.

When the new Sapphire XC arrived at the company’s plant in Katy, Texas, Knust-Godwin became the first contract manufacturer in Velo3D’s network to receive the printer. Calibrated for use with Inconel 718 nickel alloy, the Sapphire XC now stands alongside Knust-Godwin’s six other Velo3D Sapphire systems and gives them the ability to scale production even faster. The newest machine is said to cut production costs by 75% and produce parts 500% larger in volume compared to the previous generation of machines.

Knust-Godwin VP of Technology Mike Corliss said of the new unit, “By adding a Sapphire XC to our manufacturing floor, we can better serve our customers, utilize additive manufacturing in new ways, and differentiate our additive manufacturing offerings from our competitors’.”

Outside of Knust-Godwin, the buzz around the Sapphire XC seems to have made it a hot commodity. It could be sold out for deliveries through the end of 2022, according to Zack Murphree, Velo3D’s Vice President of Global Sales and Business Development, and with “the Sapphire XC (helping) customers like Knust-Godwin unlock new use-cases for AM by enabling the printing of larger parts, and significantly lowering manufacturing costs for customers printing parts in larger volumes,” it’s no wonder why the machine is flying off the shelf.

Velo3D’s innovations are pushing the boundaries of what metal additive manufacturing can do. As they continue to build bigger, faster, and more efficient printers, companies like Knust-Godwin, Vertex Manufacturing, and Lockheed-Martin will continue adding them in abundance to their manufacturing floors. In turn, according to its “DED and Large-Format Additive Manufacturing Markets: 2021-2030”, SmarTech Analysis expects the large format sector to reach $739 million by 2026.

While we don’t have a crystal ball, Velo3D’s 3D printers look like they will be a major player in the industry for the foreseeable future. Its machines are doing things many other metal 3D printers simply can’t. If it continues to build well-received products like the Sapphire XC, you can bet Knust-Godwin will be first in line again to snatch up Velo3D’s next production system.

Image courtesy of Velo3D.

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