Sequa Corporation subsidiary Chromalloy, which provides integrated manufacturing and repair solutions for manufacturers and operators of gas turbine engines, has chosen the Sapphire metal 3D printing system from privately-funded Silicon Valley company VELO3D to fabricate aftermarket part solutions for gas turbines in the energy and aviation sectors. VELO3D’s Sapphire printer has been used in the past for aerospace and aviation applications, but this marks the first time its industrial technology has been put to the test in the critical energy and aviation MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Operations) markets.
By using the Sapphire 3D printer, Chromalloy should be able to speed up the supply chain, as additive manufacturing offers more flexibility and shorter delivery times than most traditional MRO supply chains, such as welding and casting, are capable of offering. As MRO applications in energy and aviation fields require fast, small batch production of legacy parts, without having to take time redesigning them for 3D printing,
“For Chromalloy, 3D printed parts must provide inherent value because they are 3D printed. Otherwise, the printing itself is just a novelty,” explained Chromalloy’s Jim Whitton, Director, Innovation Strategy. “VELO3D’s unique build capability and material density create high value by reducing post-processing requirements.”
Chromalloy, which is authorized by the FAA and EASA and many other NAAs and qualified under ISO and NADCAP, offers solutions that are designed to lower manufacturing and operating expenses, as well as extend the life of gas turbine engines. By installing the industrial Sapphire 3D printer, which comes standard with VELO3D’s user-friendly, automated Flow pre-print software and Assure QA and control system, in its manufacturing and repair services area, the company can help aging gas turbine engines remain operational for less cost.
“Chromalloy continues to seek innovative alternatives for our customers to extend the life of their engines and reduce their MRO costs. The VELO3D additive manufacturing equipment provides a unique, practical solution for our proprietary LifeX customer solutions,” stated John Green, Vice President, Engineering & Technology, Chromalloy.
VELO3D is well-known for its patented SupportFree printing process, which helps users create parts with more complex geometries. This ability means that legacy parts traditionally made using brazing, casting, and welding methods won’t need to be redesigned for a new manufacturing process—3D printing—which definitely reduce the barrier of part transitions.
“For complex gas turbine combustor components that have limited aftermarket availability or high replacement cost, the Sapphire system will allow Chromalloy to produce hardware on-demand, negating high NPI (new product introduction) tooling costs and lead-times of other methods,” Whitton said.
Additionally, VELO3D will qualify Chromalloy’s machine for 3D printing nickel-based superalloys, including the strong Hastelloy X material, the durability of which makes it a good choice for applications in high-temperature environments.
“As an industry leader in the aviation MRO space, Chromalloy is an excellent partner for us. They have the expertise to open up a whole market category of parts,” stated VELO3D’s CEO and Founder Benny Buller. “With the flexibility to produce high value, high mix, low-volume parts for aerospace, AM allows the supply chain to be scaled to market- and customer-specific requirements.”