DefenseIndustrial Additive ManufacturingMetal Additive Manufacturing

BPMI adds Velo3D capabilities to its metal AM solutions for U.S. Navy supply chain

It will be operated by ATI in the newly established facility to provide U.S. naval nuclear propulsion program with alternatives to cast parts

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Bechtel Plant Machinery Inc. (BPMI) has selected a fully integrated metal additive manufacturing solution from Velo3D 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 (NYSE: ATI) at its new additive manufacturing facility outside Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Earlier this year, BPMI awarded a contract to ATI to support the development of highly engineered part solutions for advanced manufacturing methods including metal additive manufacturing from Norsk Titanium and now also Velo3D. 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.

BPMI adds Velo3D capabilities to its metal AM solutions for U.S. Navy supply chain, operated by ATI in the newly established facility
A large metal part printed on a Velo3D system.

“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. “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.”

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 offers 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.

“Printers with larger build volumes and the ability to print with fewer support structures are ideal for U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program applications,” said Nathan Weiderspahn, BPMI Executive Manager, of Industrial Base Management. “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.”

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.

“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. “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 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.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites VoxelMatters.com and Replicatore.it, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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