The fully integrated 3D printing system will be operated by ATI in a newly established facility that will provide the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program with alternatives to cast parts.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—Velo3D, Inc. reported that Bechtel Plant Machinery Inc. (BPMI) has selected a fully integrated metal additive manufacturing system from the company to produce parts for the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

The Sapphire XC large format printer, calibrated for stainless steel 415, will be operated by ATI at its new additive manufacturing facility outside Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to a release from Velo3D. Earlier this year, BPMI awarded a contract to ATI to support development of highly engineered part solutions for advanced manufacturing methods, including metal additive manufacturing. The partners will use the printer to produce parts previously produced through casting, reducing lead times for mission critical parts, and streamlining their supply chain.

Velo3D’s technology was developed in the United States and includes a fully integrated software and hardware solution. The company is headquartered in the United States, including its research and development, customer support, and manufacturing operations.

Conventional 3D printers often struggle to produce parts with overhanging features beyond 45 degrees without support structures. However, Velo3D’s proprietary technology is reported to offer the ability to produce parts with a wide variety of geometries with few-to-no supports. This has allowed the company to address applications that other 3D printing technologies cannot. In addition to using this technology to 3D print parts that are traditionally cast, Velo3D’s technology also enables more innovative designs to replace components currently in use. Furthermore, this capability can be scaled to additional machines across multiple locations and operators, the company said in the release.

“BPMI and ATI’s progressive approach to 3D printing is extremely forward-thinking and this new, revolutionary facility will significantly augment the U.S. Navy’s supply chain for maintenance, repair, and operations,” said Brad Kreger, CEO at Velo3D, in the release. “Both companies are early adopters of metal 3D printing and innovators in the manufacturing industry. We look forward to working with them as they support the U.S. Navy’s fleet, including its aging vessels.”

The U.S. Navy currently operates approximately 300 vessels, many of which were commissioned decades ago. They, along with the broader U.S. Department of Defense, have actively incorporated additive manufacturing, acknowledging its efficiency in supporting its aging equipment, enhancing warfighter readiness, and reducing replacement part lead-times.

Additive manufacturing accomplishes this by enabling distributed supply chains and digital inventories where manufacturers can produce parts within spec across any similar printer calibrated for the same metal alloy. ATI’s new secure facility, along with Velo3D’s fully integrated solution, are significant steps forward in advancing the Navy’s maintenance and operational capabilities, the release said.

“Printers with larger build volumes and the ability to print with less support structures are ideal for U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program applications,” said BPMI Executive Manager, Industrial Base Management Nathan Weiderspahn, in the release. “This additive manufacturing technology will greatly support our efforts in delivering new technology to the U.S. Navy and helping maintain its fleet of ships.”

“ATI will be able to more easily additively produce complex parts with fewer support structures, at lower angles, and larger sizes than ever before,” said Joe Thompson, general manager of ATI Additive Manufacturing Products, in the release. “This enables us to broaden the scope of possible part designs for our defense and aerospace customers, enabling higher performance and better quality. The business opportunity represented by these previously unproduceable part designs is significant.”

BPMI’s new Sapphire XC printer is said to be the first such printer from Velo3D calibrated for stainless steel 415, an alloy of iron, chromium, and nickel that provides good tensile strength and corrosion resistance at a range of temperatures.