Cincinnati-based Vertex Manufacturing recently purchased a second end-to-end additive manufacturing solution from Velo3D -- this machine dedicated to the superalloy Hastelloy-X. Vertex officials believe they now have a distinct advantage with the capability to 3D print aerospace, defense, and energy parts in this high-performance material.
Vertex Manufacturing's Tim Warden (L) and Steve Rengers (R) with their Sapphire Inconel 718 additive manufacturing solution from Velo3D.
Vertex Manufacturing, a Cincinnati-based contract manufacturer, was created by industry pioneers, originally of Morris Technologies, with a mission to help customers needing advanced manufacturing solutions for both development and production programs.
Staffed by experts with decades of experience in materials, methods and quality, Vertex offers a range of services including additive manufacturing (AM), advanced multi-axis CNC machining, rapid castings and final inspection of manufactured parts.
Recently, the company made the decision to purchase a Sapphire Hastelloy-X from Velo3D. It was the second end-to-end additive manufacturing solution Vertex has purchased from Velo3D -- the company had previously acquired a Velo3D machine built for the Inconel 718 alloy.
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Vertex is the first contract manufacturer to own a Velo3D system that processes the high-performance superalloy. The decision to purchase a Sapphire Hastelloy-X was definitely a forward-looking one for Vertex, says the company's 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."
Velo3D printers are designed for use with a broad range of high-quality alloys.
Hastelloy-X is not a heat-hardened material, so it doesn't become brittle at high temperatures, and its high oxidation resistance provides durability over many years of continuous use. "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," says Warden.
Planning to acquire more AM equipment in the future, Steve Rengers, president of Vertex, describes his company's partnership with Velo3D as an evolving one. "We're interested in Velo3D because we value innovation, and we see them as a leader of innovation among advanced LPBF systems," he says. "Velo3D's technology -- the non-contact recoater, and the ability to do challenging geometries without supports -- is a differentiator. That's what Vertex is all about as well, so it's a great collaborative relationship we're looking to expand upon."
HASTELLOY X possesses excellent forming and welding characteristics and is easy to fabricate.
Benny Buller, founder and CEO of Velo3D, is enthusiastic about the partnership. "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," he says. "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."
Rengers agrees and views the future of AM as an accelerating one. "We're going to continue to see product development cycles shorten as AM has a significant impact on reducing manufacturing times," he says. "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."
Going forward, Vertex will remain closely attuned to the pull of customer requests, Rengers says, rather than pushing them towards specific technologies. "Depending on the paths they're taking, those are the machines and materials we will invest in," he says. "As Vertex expands, the keys to innovation rely on the best people, the best processes, and the best equipment -- and Velo3D is an important piece of that puzzle for us."
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