"SupportFree" Metal Additive Manufacturing
James Anderton posted on July 08, 2019 |
Velo3D's process enables users to print parts before creating optimized part designs for additive.

According to Velo3D CEO Benny Buller, manufacturers are interested in the potential of 3D printing, but there are two main challenges to adopting it.

One is that they have existing designs that they manufacturing via conventional processes such as milling, and these designs are not optimized for 3D printing. So, when these parts are printed, the parts may print with supports and require significant post-processing. These old designs aren’t ideal for 3D printing. So, it’s very hard for the users to analyse whether or not 3D printing will be a profitable investment.

The second problem is that part designs can and should be redesigned to optimize for 3D printing, but without evidence through testing, it’s hard to justify investing time in design changes. So, prospective users of industrial metal additive manufacturing face a catch-22.

Speed Integration of Metal AM into Product Lifecycle by Splitting the Problem into Two Stages

Velo3D solves this problem because their printer eliminates the consideration of support structures, so companies can effectively print the original part designs with less intensive post-processing requirements. Then, once they have proven that 3D printing tech will benefit them, they can (and should, according to Velo3D) invest in creating new part designs for totally optimized printing. But, it’s all made possible by removing the roadblock of usefully printing the old part designs.

Most additive manufacturing experts agree that companies interested in the potential of additive should start small. Printing a small number of parts via a service bureau is a good way to gain experience with the technology before investing in equipment.

This video is sponsored by Velo3D. Opinions expressed belong to engineering.com.

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